New Zealanders will be able to get 10-year passports in six weeks' time after a law was passed with support from all political parties this afternoon.

Passports' lifespan will now increase from five to ten years, after the Passports Amendment Bill (No 2) passed its third reading.

Those needing to renew their passport might consider waiting until November 30 - the date the new 10-year versions are likely to be available from.

Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dunne thanked all parties for their support in ensuring the legislation could be passed quickly.

Advertisement

"I am also pleased that the hard work by the Department of Internal Affairs in preparing to introduce the 10-year validity period has enabled the November 30 implementation date.

"While it is expected there will be an initial surge in applications from that date, the department will be sufficiently resourced to ensure current processing times will be maintained."

The cost will increase from $135 to $180, but will still deliver an average saving of $90 over a 10-year validity period.

Because a child's appearance can change significantly over time, the child passport will remain valid for five years.

New Zealand moved to five-year passports in 2005 in response to security concerns sparked by the 2001 terrorist attacks in the US.

It was expected that other countries would do the same, but this did not happen.

Australia and the US still require their citizens to renew their travel documents only once a decade.

In addition, developments in biometric technology have allayed concerns about passport fraud and counterfeiting.

Last year, a 12,000-signature petition organised by Australian-based New Zealander Kyle Lockwood - who has since designed two of the shortlisted alternative New Zealand flags - urged Parliament to return 10-year passports.

An independent review of passport security measures by former diplomat and Foreign Affairs chief Simon Murdoch was carried out, and a separate review of the costs related to processing passports.

The two reports were finished in December and sent to Mr Dunne to make a recommendation to the Cabinet.

Today's law change comes after a surprise measure in this year's Budget to introduce a border levy.

Travellers leaving and coming to New Zealand will be forced to pay $22 for a return international trip under the plan.

The Government estimates it could raise an extra $100 million a year from the new charge which it plans to introduce next January.

How to get one

• Applications for the new passports can be lodged from November 30.
• For those whose passport expires before then, it is not possible to put in an application before the end of next month - and any applications received early will result in a 5-year passport.