By David Chaplin and Kim Fischer, Australian Passport Office
Travellers tend to have a routine when preparing for an overseas trip: Getting the post office to hold the mail. Cancelling newspapers. Putting travel documents on top of the car keys so they can’t be forgotten.
Coming into the holiday season, here’s a few extra things to add to the list to make sure your travel plans go smoothly:
- Need a new passport? Make sure you apply well in advance. It usually takes three weeks to receive a passport after you lodge your application – and there’s an additional fee for priority applications. Apply in good time, and you won’t have to pay it.
- Did you report your passport lost, and then find it again? Don’t try to travel on it. It will be impounded. Apply for a new passport instead. If you already have a new passport, make sure it’s the one you take with you.
- If you’re going on a cruise, make sure you check on passport requirements with the cruise operator. You need a passport to enter a foreign country’s waters, even if you don’t plan to disembark. If you don’t have a passport, you won’t be able to board the cruise.
- What is the expiry date on your passport? Make sure you check the date well before you travel. Some countries won’t let you enter unless your passport is valid for six months after you plan to exit the country that you’re visiting.
This last point causes a lot of Aussie travellers stress. Every day, airlines need to refuse to board travellers whose passports don’t have six months’ validity remaining. Other countries’ rules about this can be complex, and enforcement can be inconsistent. If in doubt, it’s much safer to get a new passport.
Numerous tales on Facebook are a timely warning: Veronica* was denied boarding by her airline and missed her daughter’s graduation. Nicholas* had to travel overland for 24 hours instead of flying, just to avoid transiting a country with passport validity restrictions, even though he still had five months and 22 days remaining on his passport. Being a prepared traveller could save you inconvenience, embarrassment, or worse.
For peace of mind, take time to plan your travel thoroughly. Check visa requirements, the rules that apply to your air or cruise tickets (including luggage allowances), and the details of your travel insurance. If unsure about passport or visa requirements, contact the embassies or consulates of the countries you are travelling to. Remember, every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. The Australian Government cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination’s entry or exit requirements.
Lastly, remember to check smartraveller.gov.au for travel advice and updates about the countries you are visiting.
* names have been changed