Kiwis urged to renew passports ahead of expected surge in demand

The Department of Home Affairs (DIA) is urging New Zealanders to apply for or renew their passports as soon as possible as it prepares for an expected increase in demand when the border reopens.

DIA director general of services and access, Julia Wootton, said there had been a noticeable increase in passport applications since the government announced that border restrictions would begin to ease from from 11:59 p.m. on February 27.

The Passport Office has seen a noticeable increase in passport applications since the announcement of the reopening of borders.

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The Passport Office has seen a noticeable increase in passport applications since the announcement of the reopening of borders.

“Thousands of New Zealanders currently have passports that expired while Covid travel restrictions were in effect,” she said.

“We forecast an expected increase in demand, while dealing with the effects of Omicron.”

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Downsizing due to Covid-19 means passports are taking longer than usual to process – around 15 working days compared to up to 10 normally.

“We have anticipated the impact, but passport processing time may increase,” Wootton said. The department is recruiting additional staff to help meet increased demand.

Some 125,000 New Zealand passports were due to expire in 2021, and far fewer passports were issued in 2020 and 2021 than in previous years, according to DIA data. More than 734,000 passports were issued in 2019, compared to 148,192 in 2021.

Wootton said his team encouraged people to apply for or renew their passports early to avoid the expected rush when restrictions ease.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) advises that you may need to renew your passport if it is due to expire in less than a year.

“Some countries require your passport to be valid for at least six months after your intended departure from the country you are visiting,” the ministry says on its website. “Check with the embassies of the countries you plan to visit for the conditions of validity.”

Passport holders should also ensure they have at least one clear visa page for immigration stamps.

Travelers are often required to provide valid passport numbers for all party members when booking travel online, so “it’s good to be prepared,” Wootton said.

You can apply for your passport or renew a current one on the passports.govt.nz website. You will need a passport photo, referee or identity witness and previous passport details if applicable.

If you need a passport quickly, you can use the emergency service, which issues them within three working days. However, it costs about $200 more than the standard service – $382 for adults versus the usual $191 and $302 for children versus the usual $111.

Adult passports are issued for 10 years and children for five years.

The New Zealand passport is often ranked among the most powerful in the world in passport rankings.

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The New Zealand passport is often ranked among the most powerful in the world in passport rankings.

Air New Zealand and travel agencies have reported a significant increase in overseas bookings since the announcement of border reopenings.

An Air New Zealand spokesman said demand for international flights was stable.

“Travel tends to be concentrated close to border reopening dates, with services from Sydney and Melbourne to Auckland proving most popular in March and April, and additional interest from North America in the second half.

“Our customer teams have received numerous calls over the past week from customers who are relieved to be able to plan their return to Aotearoa.”

House of Travel chief operating officer Brent Thomas said the travel agency had seen “a real spike” in inquiries and bookings since the announcement, even with prices higher than they weren’t before the pandemic.

“It may come as a surprise to people, but it’s not just Australia either. A significant number of the bookings are for Europe and the UK, so I think what that reflects is that there has been significant pent-up demand.Much of the first group of travelers will be visiting friends and relatives – people from whom they have been separated for two years or more.

Depending on how you want to read the ranking, New Zealand came in either sixth or 16th on Henley & Partners’ most recent list of the world’s most powerful passports. Japan and Singapore shared the top spot with visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 192 destinations, although that did not take into account pandemic-related travel restrictions.

Rival ranking the Passport Index, New Zealand was in third or fifth place, again depending on how you read it.

A new ranking from immigration consultancy Global Citizens Solutions rates passports not only on the number of countries their holders can visit without a visa or with a visa on arrival, but also on quality of life and investment opportunities. The United States leads this ranking, with New Zealand ranked 10th.

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