Australian passport

Australian passport
The front cover of a contemporary Australian ePassport (with chip )
Date first issued 1901 (first version)
1984 (machine-readable passport)
24 October 2005 (biometric passport)
June 2014 (current version)
Issued by  Australia
Type of document Passport
Purpose Identification
Eligibility requirements Australian citizens
Expiration 10 years for adults 16+
10 or 5 years for adults aged 75+
5 years for children under 16
Cost Adult (16+):
10 year passport : A$282
Adult 75+ (optional)
5 year passport: A$142
Child (Under 16):
5 year passport: A$142

Australian passports are travel documents issued to Australian citizens under Australian Passports Act 2005 by the Australian Passport Office of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), both in Australia and overseas, which enable the passport bearer to travel internationally. Australian citizens are allowed to hold passports from other countries.[2] Since 1988 over a million Australian passports have been issued annually, and it reached 1.4 million in 2007, and increasing towards a projected 3 million annually by 2021.[3]

Since 24 October 2005 Australia has issued only biometric passports, called ePassports, which have an embedded microchip that contains the same personal information that is on the color photo page of the passport, including a digitized photograph. As all previous passports have now expired, all Australian passports are now biometric. SmartGates have been installed in Australian airports to allow Australian ePassport holders and ePassport holders of several other countries to clear immigration controls more rapidly, and facial recognition technology has been installed at immigration gates.[4]


Before 1901, Australia consisted of six separate British colonies. Passports usage was not common, and if required British or other national passports were used. In 1901, the six colonies joined to form the Commonwealth of Australia, but Australian passports did not exist. During World War I, the monitoring and identifying of those crossing international borders was regarded as critical to the security of Australia and its allies, and the War Precautions Act 1914 required all persons over 16 years of age, on leaving Australia, to possess some passport.[5] Passports issued by Australia were issued only to "British subjects" and were described as "British Passports".

Australian nationality came into existence on 26 January 1949 when the Nationality and Citizenship Act 1948 came into force, and the words British Passport on the cover of Australian passports were replaced by Australian Passport. British subjects, who were not Australian citizens, continued to be entitled to an Australian passport. The term "British subject" had a particular meaning in Australian nationality law. The term encompassed all citizens of countries included in the list contained in the Nationality and Citizenship Act 1948. The list of countries was based on, but was not identical with, those countries (and their colonies) which were members of the Commonwealth from time to time. The list was amended from time to time as various former colonies became independent countries, but the list in the Act was not necessarily up-to-date as far as to constitute exactly a list of countries in the Commonwealth at any given time. This definition of "British subject" meant that, for the purposes of Australian nationality law, citizens of countries which had become republics, such as India, were classified as "British subjects".

In 1981, the Commonwealth, Queensland, New South Wales and Victorian governments set up the Stewart Royal Commission to inquire into various drug trafficking and related criminal activities, but which spent much of its time examining how criminals were using and abusing the passport system for criminal purposes. The Commission published its final report in 1983,[6] making recommendations on how to prevent such abuses, most of which were acted upon by the federal government.[7] The report's recommendations included that applicants for a passport attend a Passport Office and that mailed applications cease; that passports be issued only to citizens, so that British subjects cease to be entitled to a passport; that birth certificates not to be accepted as a sufficient proof of identity; that passports cease to be issued to travel or other agents; that all persons who change their names, whether by choice, marriage or adoption, be required to register the change with State Registrars of births, deaths and marriages.[7] The legal category of British subject was abolished in 1984 by the Australian Citizenship (Amendment) Act 1984, and Australian passports began to be issued exclusively to Australian citizens,[8] though existing passports held by non-citizen British subjects continued to be valid until each expired.

In 1980, large bound book registers were replaced by a computerised processing and registration system, called the Passport Issue and Control System (PICS).[9][10] Since 1984, to speed up processing of incoming and outgoing passengers and data entry, Australia has been issuing passports with machine readable lines, to ICAO Document 9303 standard. Since 24 October 2005, Australia has issued only biometric passports, called ePassports, which have an embedded RFID microchip that contains the same personal information that is on the color photo page of the passport, including a digitized photograph. All Australian passports are now biometric, all pre-2006 passports having now expired. SmartGates have been installed in Australian airports to allow Australian ePassport holders, and ePassport holders of several other countries, to clear immigration controls more rapidly, and facial recognition technology has been installed at immigration gates[4] to capture and save a biometric profile of passport holders as well as to compare against the immigration database and watchlist. Australia does not use fingerprinting of incoming passengers, as is done by some other countries.

Summary of passport series

  • In 1917, 'X' series passports issued.
  • In 1937, 'A' series passports issued. Passport cover included the Commonwealth Coat of Arms and the words ‘British Passport Commonwealth of Australia’.[3]
  • In 1949, after Australian nationality was created, the words Australian Passport replaced British Passport on the cover of Australian passports.[5] The passports contained manually inserted photos with wet seals and raised embossed seals over the photo as security features. Two types of passport were issued:[5]
  1. 'B' series passports — issued (within Australia only) to British subjects who were not Australian citizens.
  2. 'C' series passports — issued to Australian citizens.
  • In 1950, ‘E’ series passport replaces ‘B’ and ‘C’ series.[9]
  • In 1964, ‘G’ series passport introduced, with the St Edward's Crown at the top of the cover, the word ‘Australia’ followed by the Australian Coat of Arms, and the words ‘British Passport’ at the bottom.[9]
  • In 1967, the words ‘British Passport’ removed from passports but retain the Crown. The word ‘Australia’ appears below the Crown, followed by the Australian Coat of Arms and the word ‘Passport’.[9]
  • In 1975, responsibility for Australian passport functions were transferred to the Department of Foreign Affairs (since 1987, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade), from the then Department of Labor and Immigration.[9]
  • Before 1983, a married woman's passport application had to be authorised by her husband.[5]
  • In 1983, the Department partnered with Australia Post to enable the issue of Australian passports at most Australia Post outlets.[5]
  • In 1984, ‘T’ series passport introduced, with Crown emblem removed from cover.[9] These were the first to have a laminate built into the document.[5]
  • In 1986, single identity passports introduced, so that children could no longer be included on a parent's passport.[5]
  • In 1988, ‘H’ and ‘J’ series passports issued with Bicentennial logo. And until 1988, a woman could apply for and receive a passport in her married name, before she was actually married.[5]
  • In 1994, digitised colour printing of photograph and signature on the glue side of the laminate introduced.[9]
  • In 1995, ‘L’ series passports introduced, with kangaroo motif security laminate. The personal data pages initially included a photograph and a cut out piece of paper with the holders signature under a sheet of adhesive laminate.[9]
  • From approximately 1998, the personal data page for 'L' series passports colour laser printed under a sheet of adhesive laminate.
  • From 27 November 2003, 'M' series passport issued, which included enhanced security features. The personal data page printed by ink-jet onto the adhesive surface of the security laminate, the laminate itself containing a holographic design.
  • From October 2005, 'M' series passports issued as a biometric or ePassport. Electronic passport logo printed under the passport number on the personal data page. The front cover printed in gold ink.
  • Since May 2009, 'N' series passports issued as a biometric or ePassport. The passport was black instead of blue and had a slight font and case change to the word 'Passport' on the front cover. The front cover printing was in silver. Additional fraud counter-measures were included including a 'Ghost Image' and 'Retro-Reflective Floating Image' on the laminated page. Each page featured images of Australia printed throughout the document making every visa page unique and more difficult to reproduce.[11]
  • In late June 2014, 'P' series passports issued with innovative security features that make it even more difficult to forge. They have an Australian flag blue with gold embossed cover, printed using the same technologies as Australian banknotes. Visible security features include a new security laminate with the world’s first colour floating image.[12]

Types of passports

Emergency passport
Official passport
Diplomatic passport
Different types of passports
  • Standard Passport (Blue or Black Cover) – Issued for ordinary travel, such as vacations and business trips, it has 34 visa pages (42 pages overall) with 10 years validity.
    • Frequent Traveler Passport – Issued to frequent travelers, such as business people (66 visa pages). Issuance of Frequent Traveller Passports is discontinued as of 30 November 2017.
    • Child's Passport – Issued to Australian citizens aged under 16 years, for half the cost of a standard passport, it has 34 visa pages with 5 years validity.
    • Emergency Passport (Grey Cover) - Issued to Australian citizens that urgently need to travel on short notice or urgently need to replace their lost or stolen passport. Emergency passports are issued with a maximum 12 months validity.
  • Official Passport (Grey-asparagus Cover) – Issued to individuals representing the Australian government on official business. (42 pages)
  • Diplomatic Passport (Red Cover) – Issued to Australian diplomats, top ranking government officials and diplomatic couriers. (42 pages)

Physical appearance

The current 'P' series Australian passports are Australian-flag blue, with the Australian coat of arms emblazoned in gold in the centre of the front cover. The word "Passport" and the international e-passport symbol () are inscribed below the coat of arms, and "AUSTRALIA" above. The standard passport contains 42 (pps 17 & 18 unusable as they contain the contactless IC) visa pages.

Identity Information Page

The Australian passport includes the following data:

  • Photo of passport owner
  • Type (P for passport)
  • Code of Issuing State (AUS)
  • Document No.
  • Name
  • Nationality (Australian)
  • Date of Birth
  • Sex (male, female and indeterminate). First reported in 2003 with recipient Alex MacFarlane, intersex people with "indeterminate" birth certificates could choose 'X'.[13][14][15] In 2011, this was extended to permit intersex and transsexual people to choose this when supported by a doctor's statement. Individuals may report their identified gender without having had surgical intervention.[16][17]
  • Place of birth (Only the city or town is listed, even if born outside Australia)
  • Date of issue
  • Owner's signature
  • Date of expiry
  • Authority (Australia if issued in Australia, or the name of the issuing diplomatic mission if issued overseas – e.g. London[18])

The information page ends with the Machine Readable Zone.

Passport note

The passports contain a note from Australia that is addressed to the authorities of all other states, identifying the bearer as a citizen of Australia and requesting that he or she be allowed to pass and be treated according to international norms. The note inside Australian passports states:

The Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, being the representative in Australia of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, requests all those whom it may concern to allow the bearer, an Australian Citizen, to pass freely without let or hindrance and to afford him or her every assistance and protection of which he or she may stand in need.


The passport is printed in English. French translation is found on the identity information, observations, chip centre and notice pages.

Biometric chip

The embedded chip stores the owner's digitised photograph, name, sex, date of birth, nationality, passport number, and the passport expiry date. This is the same information that appears on the printed information page of every passport. Facial recognition technology was introduced with the release of the ePassport to improve identity verification and reduce identity-related fraud.


  • Microprinting – for example, horizontal lines on the notice/bearer's information pages are made up of microprinted words.
  • The laminate of the identity information page on M-series and later passports contains retro-reflective floating images of kangaroos.

Applications for a passport

The 100 point personal identification system applies to new applicants for an Australian passport,[19] and an Australian passport can in turn be used as an identification document of the passport holder (worth 70 points in the 100 point check scheme).

The 100 point personal identification system does apply to a renewal of a passport.


Australian citizens, aged 18 years or over who have an adult Australian passport that was valid for at least two years when issued, and was issued on or after 1 July 2000, in the current name, date of birth and sex or have a child Australian passport that was valid for at least two years when issued, and was issued on or after 1 July 2005, and that were 16 years or over at the time of issue may apply online for a renewal. If overseas, this may be done by contacting the nearest Australian diplomatic mission.

Renewals are not available for lost or stolen passports, in which case an application for a new passport must be made.

Refusal to issue passport

Under the Australian Passports Act 2005, the Minister for Foreign Affairs has the power to refuse, cancel or suspend a passport on a number of grounds including national security or health.[20] In addition, a court can order an accused in a criminal matter, or any other person, to surrender their passport, for example, as a condition of grant of bail or otherwise.

In May 2017, the Turnbull Government successfully reached a deal with Derryn Hinch's Justice Party to allow the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to revoke the passports of 20,000 convicted paedophiles listed on Australia's national child offender register, of which about 3,200 offenders with lifetime reporting requirements were to be permanently denied the opportunity to obtain a passport and hence the ability to travel outside Australia for life. This was described as a "world-first" passport-ban policy intended to combat child sex tourism perpetuated by Australian citizens especially in developing countries.[21]

Visa requirements

An Australian passport does not, in itself, entitle the holder to enter another country. To enter another country, the traveller must comply with the visa and entry requirements of the other countries to be visited, which vary from country to country and may apply specifically to a particular passport type, the traveller's nationality, criminal history or many other factors.

As of 2 July 2018, Australian citizens had visa-free or visa on arrival access to 183 countries and territories, ranking the Australian passport 6th in the world in terms of travel freedom (tied with the Greek passport) according to the Henley & Partners Visa Restrictions Index. In addition, Arton Capital's Passport Index ranked the Australian passport 6th in the world in terms of travel freedom with a visa-free score of 160 (tied with Maltese and New Zealand passports), as of 5 July 2018.

Foreign travel statistics

According to the statistics these are the numbers of Australian visitors to various countries per annum in 2015 (unless otherwise noted):

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 Data for 2016
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 Data for 2017
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Counting only guests in tourist accommodation establishments.
  4. 1 2 3 Data for 2013
  5. 1 2 Data for 2011
  6. 1 2 3 Data for arrivals by air only.
  7. Data for 2012
  8. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Data for 2014
  9. 1 2 3 Data for 2009
  10. Data for arrivals by air only.
  11. Total number includes tourists, business travelers, students, exchange visitors, temporary workers and families, diplomats and other representatives and all other classes of nonimmigrant admissions (I-94).

Declared area offence

It's an offence under Australian law for Australians to enter, or remain in, certain regions designated as 'declared areas'.[135] The Government may declare an area (but not a whole country) if it considers terrorists are operating in that area. The maximum penalty is 10 years imprisonment. However, it is a defence if a person can show they entered or remained in the area for a legitimate purpose prescribed in regulations.

As at June 2015, the 'declared areas' were:

See also



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