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The Australian Passport Office has started rolling out its new R Series passport, which features images of native animals hidden throughout.
But it’s not for design purposes — they’re actually a high-tech security feature.
If you’re applying for a new passport in 2023, here’s what you need to know.
Why does Australia have a new passport?
It is international best practice for countries to update their passports every 5-10 years to improve security features and refresh the design.
“The transition to the R Series is necessary now to continue to ensure the safety of Australians’ identities to the highest possible standards,” DFAT says.
DFAT also says this transition has been planned since 2015.
“To thwart document fraud, we must regularly upgrade the Australian passport’s security features.”
Australia’s previous P Series passport has been in use since 2014.
What’s different about it?
The new passport’s elaborate design makes the documents harder to forge, DFAT says.
The photo page features a chip and antenna
Your least-favourite photo now appears not once, but twice on Australia’s new passport.
The new photo page is made of tough, high-security, layered plastic — known as polycarbonate.
A passport chip is embedded on the right side, which features three parallel lines running across it.
These lines are the antenna.
The visa pages feature iconic Australian landscapes
The passport’s visa pages feature 17 prints of popular landscapes from around the country.
But when placed under ultraviolet light, each print transforms into a nightscape and features hidden species of native fauna.
The R Series also continues the inclusion of Indigenous artwork into Australian passports.
Do I need to replace my current passport with the new one?
Your current passport will remain a highly secure travel document until it expires, DFAT says.
But keep in mind that some airlines and foreign governments require travellers to carry passports with at least six months’ validity beyond their planned stay.
You should check the entry requirements of the countries you plan to visit or transit through before you travel.
How much does it cost?
Australian passports are renowned for their steep price tag.
It’s $325 for people over 16 years of age, and $164 for those under 16.
This is up from $308 in January 2022, and $301 in January 2021.
New Zealanders pay $NZD199 ($180) for their passports.
Canadian, Greek and Maltese passports all allow the same amount of visa-free travel as the Australian passport.
But they cost significantly less for their respective citizens to get their hands on.
How long will it take to get one?
If you’re applying for a new passport this year, be wary of potential delays.
Whether you apply in Australia or overseas, you should allow a minimum of six weeks to get a new passport, according to DFAT.
However, in August 2022, about 40,000 Australians had not received their passports after six weeks.
DFAT blamed the delays on continued “unprecedented demand” after 1.8 million Australians chose not to renew their passports while international borders were closed.
But it said the introduction of the new R Series passport would not increase wait times.
The Australian Passport Office said last Thursday that the “1 millionth new ‘R Series’ Australian passport rolled off the production line this week”.
Australia’s passport one of the world’s most powerful
When it comes to accessing visa-free travel, our passport is one of the world’s most powerful.
It’s ranked on the 8th tier alongside Canada, Greece and Malta, behind 22 other countries on higher tiers, according to the latest Henley & Partners Passport Index.
In total, Australians are able to visit 185 countries without a visa.
Japan came in first place for the sixth year in a row.