Lengthy passport wait times threaten Aussie travel plans

Lengthy passport wait times threaten Aussie travel plans

With the borders re-open and Aussies starved of travel, people are in a rush to get themselves overseas.

But it seems like everyone’s had the same idea at once meaning that Aussies are renewing their expired passports in droves.

Unfortunately, this has exacerbated the already high demand for passport renewal and is threatening people’s travel plans.

People are usually told to allow up to six weeks for a passport, but delays have seen that time extend by weeks and even months for some.

9 News footage showed long lines outside the Sydney branch of the Australian Passport Office, with some saying they waited up to five hours.

A Western Australian couple, Sharnyce Hudson and Ethan Hall, said to 7 News that they waited 9 weeks for their passports but were still without them the day before their holiday.

In a rush to get their passports sorted before their Bali trip, the couple drove five hours from Geraldton to Perth to queue outside the passport office.

“We are supposed to be flying out tomorrow at 3.40 am and at this point it doesn’t look like we’re going anywhere,” Hudson said.

A woman keen to get her family over to the UK said her five-month-olds application had taken more than 3 months.

Their travel date was now under a week away but the woman said the support line was “completely dead” due to the high volume of inquiries.

The Sydney passport office usually receives between 7000 and 9000 applications during the working week, but that has blown up to 10,000 to 12,000.

People can pay an extra $225 to have their application prioritised for processing in two days, these wait times have also soared.

One upset Twitter user tweeted at the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade (DFAT), saying the department lacked “care and compassion” as the man needed to attend a funeral.

“I visited passport office Sydney to expedite my son’s passport on 2nd June, because my father in law passed away and we needed to travel immediately,” they wrote.

“They said they can expedite the application after paying the priority fee but cannot get it until the 7th. Because there is 10 times normal load it seems. What should people do in case of emergencies? There is no support on phone. Absolutely no care or compassion.”

A DFAT spokeswoman told News.com.au in October 2021 that Aussies with expired or expiring passports should get their application in as soon as possible.

“Recent experience in the US and the UK has shown that there was a significant increase in applications ahead of international travel restrictions being lifted in these countries, resulting in long wait times for passports,” she said.

“While the department is doing everything it possibly can to prepare for a similar eventuality, longer than usual processing times cannot be ruled out.”

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