Australians planning on heading overseas should check their passport expiry, with massive delays on passport applications and renewals making many travellers anxious as Christmas holiday plans loom.
The Australian Passport Office (APO) is still seeing unprecedented levels of demand since the COVID border restrictions have lifted. The Guardian reports the APO is receiving up to 15,000 applications per day, and experiencing six weeks of work in the processing queue.
It appears there is no definitive answer to wait times, with some people waiting months for passport renewals, while others have theirs back within weeks.
“Why is it taking longer than 10 weeks to get an Australian Passport renewed,” one disgruntled Aussie wrote on Twitter. “Might miss our trip as we won’t have time to all get visas.”
☹️Why is it taking longer than 10 weeks to get an Australian Passport renewed. Might miss our trip as we won't have time to all get visas. This is poor show Australia! We can't go and leave family behind!😪 @DFATTas @dfat @AlboMP
Why are things getting WORSE and not better???
— Nico Smit (@psnicosmit) September 14, 2022
“Funny, mine was back in 3 weeks in early September…” one person responded. “Maybe you’re an outlier.”
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Australia Post offers a priority service, in which people can pay an additional $225 for expedited service. Some people are concerned this may cause more backlog issues.
“Some of these people aren’t even travelling,” Sharon Roberts told The Guardian. “They need to process the ones that are outstanding … and not be issuing [passports] to people who aren’t travelling yet.”
The mother from Perth is scheduled to fly to the UK with her husband and daughter this week, but her daughter’s passport application submitted on July 1st is yet to be processed. After waiting six weeks for processing, her husband has travelled to their local APO several times.
“It’s been very stressful, it’s been difficult on both of us,” Roberts said. “Why aren’t they issuing it on the spot when you walk in if you have travel plans within two weeks? That’s just insane to keep sending people home and telling them to keep coming back.”
The Guardian first posted about the “unprecedented” passport delays back in June, warning Aussies their travel plans may be postponed or cancelled as wait times ballooned out of control.