As anyone in Australia who does not live under a rock knows by now, the Australia-New Zealand bubble is finally happening. The rules for Trans-Tasman travel are now put in place, and Air New Zealand and Qantas have even reignited their long-standing rivalry while we count down the days till we can actually travel (April 18!).
What you need to get on top of now, before you go? Your passport. And no, we’re not talking about dusting it off, and taking the cliché photo of your plane ticket carefully tucked into your passport; we’re talking about the actual validity of your passport. As in, its expiry date.
That pesky little date on the inside of your passport can actually prevent you from going into certain countries, even if there are six months left on it. According to the Department of Foreign Affairs, some airlines also apply this rule.
New Zealand, thankfully, isn’t one of those countries. Their requirements for Australian passport holders, according to Immigration New Zealand is that “your passport must be valid for enough time to allow you to travel to New Zealand” — that includes the dates you enter and leave the country.
Other countries are not so passport forgiving, and these include those next in the line for a travel bubble.
Fiji requires three months validity left on your passport; Singapore is looking for six months.
If you’re freaking out that you’ve booked something but don’t have enough time on your passport (or you don’t have an active passport right now, as hundreds of thousands of people didn’t renew expired passport last year according to The Guardian), never fear. The passport renewal service is here.
Essentially, you only need to meet the following five criteria: your passport was issued to you aged 16 or older; it has a validity, when it was issued, of more than two years; was issued in your current name, date of birth, place of birth and gender; is either current or expired less than three years ago; and hasn’t been reported lost, stolen, or cancelled for any other reason.
If you meet all that, all you need to do is toddle down to a passport office or participating post office with an application form, two passport photos and your most recent passport. You can look at getting a brand spanking new passport back in a fortnight or so (keep in mind there may be Australia Post delays).
Then you can take the cliché passport shot — you’ve earned it. Just be careful not to show the barcode, because getting scammed is far easier than you think.