Government considering reduction in passport fees

By Kate Shuttleworth

The New Zealand Passport. Photo / Mark Mitchell
The New Zealand Passport. Photo / Mark Mitchell

The Government is considering lowering passport fees at the same time it opens up online passport applications.

Internal Affairs Minister Chris Tremain announced today online applications for passports had been successfully trialled and will be available to the public by the end of the year.

NZ First leader Winston Peters campaigned earlier this year for passport fees to be lowered saying they were a rip off compared to other nations - they raked in $79 million last year.

A review of passport fees is expected next year.

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

Mr Peters said the change was a 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 a passport costs $153.30 and a child's passport costs $81.70.

Mr Peters said it could cost a family of four $450 in passport fees alone before they had even got to the departure lounge.

Mr Tremain has defended the revenue gained from passport fees reiterating they cover costs.

"Passport fees are set at cost recovery level, currently $153.30 for a standard adult passport. Revenue from passports is only spent on passports."

He is expecting a report on different options for fee reductions, including a lower fee for online applications to incentivise online applications.

"The change to a five-year passport has increased the volume of renewals, and a growing surplus has built up in the account, meaning that there is scope to reduce fees."

"This will streamline the process of applying for a passport and reduce costs, providing the opportunity to look at the level of fees," said Mr Tremain.

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.

- APNZ

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