Claire Trevett

Claire Trevett is the New Zealand Herald’s deputy political editor.

Passport fees a rip off, says Peters

Winston Peters. Photo / Natalie Slade
Winston Peters. Photo / Natalie Slade

Winston Peters says the cost of this country's passports, which raked in $79 million last year, is a rip-off compared with many other nations'.

The NZ First leader yesterday called for lower passport fees, saying he had received a number of complaints about the cost and the five-year term for which they lasted.

A review of passport fees is expected next year.

In 2005, the fee increased from $71 and the term was reduced from 10 to five years as New Zealand moved to biometric passports.

At the time, the Department of Internal Affairs said the fee rise was purely to recover the cost of the change, which was dome to prevent fraud and allow New Zealanders to continue to travel visa-free to many countries.

However, Mr Peters said it was a simple revenue-raising exercise given many other countries - including the United Kingdom and the United States - charged similar fees but the passport was for a 10-year term.

In New Zealand an adult passport costs $153.30 and a child's passport costs $81.70.

Mr Peters said it would cost a family of four more than $450 in passport fees alone before they had even got to the departure gates. In the 2010-11 year, passport fees raised about $78.8 million for 557,090 passports.

Spending on passports was about $72 million.

That was up from the 432,889 passports issued the year before for revenue of $61 million.

Passport fees are due to be reviewed next year and the Department of Internal Affairs has indicated costs will go down after the costs of that change are recovered.

Mr Peters said he did not believe the fee was simple cost-recovery only. Countries such as the United Kingdom, Ireland and the United States all had similar fees for a 10-year passport.

However, Australia had similar fees to New Zealand - $293 for a 10-year term and $147 for a five-year child's passport.

Another gripe was the stipulation of many countries that a passport had to have six months left on it for someone to travel on it.

"What's that about? People pay for five years, not four years and six months. It's ripping people off. The only conclusion I can reach is that it's a simple money-raising exercise."

In its most recent annual report, the department said numbers of passports issued had grown since the 2005 change and were expected to double from 450,000 in 2010 to almost 800,000 in 2017.

COMPARISONS

New Zealand, five-year term:
Adult: $153.30
Child: $81.70

Australia:
Adult: $293 for 10 years
Child/senior: $147 for 5 years

United States:
Adult: $170 for 10 years
Child: $116 for five years

United Kingdom:
Adult: $150 for 10 years
Child: $95 for five years.

* The United Kingdom passport fee given is for applying for a passport from within the UK. The cost of applying for a UK passport from New Zealand is $335.37.

- NZ Herald

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