Uruwhenua Aotearoa – Passport Services has been sending out reminder emails to those with expired passports, encouraging them to renew the travel document online.
“Although international travel looks a bit different right now, we expect that this may change this year,” the email reads.
“Adult passports are issued for 10 years and can be used as a trusted ID document. So now is a good time to renew.”
New Zealand re-introduced 10-year adult passports in November 2015. A standard adult passport costs $191.
Kyle Lockwood, who led the campaign for a return to 10-year passports, suggested some sort of discount could be offered to people as an incentive to renew their passports at this time.
“We might not be able to use them for another year or so... maybe if they gave a 10 per cent, 15 per cent discount, that might work.”
”While there are currently overseas travel restrictions, there is a possibility that this may change at any time,” he said.
“Also, people are still travelling to and from New Zealand for medical or family reasons such as funerals.”
The department was currently able to issue passports within 10 working days, however, if there was significant demand when borders reopened, this timeframe could increase, he said.
“We are being proactive and advising people who may not be aware their passport may be about to expire or has expired, and encouraging those with expired passports to renew now to avoid the rush and possible delays when overseas travel is available again.”
Montgomery said over the past year, 407,661 passports expired, and of these, only 41,720 were renewed.
Consumer NZ chief executive Jon Duffy said while he understood the DIA’s point of view, every individual should do what is best for them.
“The clock starts ticking as soon as you have it renewed.”
However, he pointed out that if people left renewing their passport to the last minute and required one urgently once the borders reopened, it could cost them even more, with urgent passports costing $382.
“If you’re not planning to travel for a while, and you don’t need their passport as a form of identification… then it’s probably worth saving your money at this time,” he said.
“Whereas if you have relatives in Australia you want to get on a plane and see as soon as the border restrictions end, then it might be a sensible idea to get in and get your passport renewed before the rush.”
According to the Passport Index, the New Zealand passport is currently the second-most powerful in the world (tied with Sweden, Finland and Spain), with Kiwis enjoying visa-free access, or visa on entry, to 133 countries.
The German passport is holding a narrow lead, with access to 134 countries.
15:33, Jan 14 2021 STUFF
Page 8, Dominion Post Jan 15 2021