Five year passports – some important information
New Zealand issues passports that are valid for five years. New Zealand moved from 10 year to five year passports in 2005 bringing us in line with over 140 countries internationally.
The fee information for New Zealand passports can be found here: New passport fees and online renewal service
Why does New Zealand have a five year passport?
Two main reasons: security and convenience. The primary reason for moving to a five year passport is security. The five year passport ensures that New Zealanders, who are one of the world’s greatest and most frequent travellers, continue to have visa-free access to over 50 countries. Importantly it also means New Zealanders are at lower risk from identity fraud. A shorter validity passport offers more convenience because we can add new features more regularly that will get people through borders faster. Another reason is price. Fees would be higher if we had a ten year passport (see below).
How many other countries have a five year passport?
Five year passports are international best practice and are used by 147 or 77 per cent of the nations that follow International Civil Aviation Organization passport standards.
What would happen if we had a ten year passport?
Having a five year passport is a contributing factor in the very high level of trust we enjoy from overseas border authorities.
Ten years is a long time in technology evolution. We couldn’t update security features as regularly and the potential for fraudsters and counterfeiters to tamper with and imitate our passport would greatly increase. Every five years our passport is upgraded to meet these threats and prepare better for future risks.
A longer validity period would mean fewer visa free arrangements with other countries (and potentially higher travel costs as New Zealand travellers need to apply for more visas. More delays would be a likely result because new features could only be introduced every ten years).
Does our five year passport have fewer visa pages than 10 year passports?
No, generally it has more pages than most 10 year passports (48 compared with 24 for USA and 35 for Australia, for example) meaning that even frequent travellers do not need to renew for this reason any more often than those holding a 10 year book.
Why is a five year passport not cheaper than a longer validity passport? Where does the revenue go?
Passport fees are determined by the cost of producing them. Fees from passport applications are required by law to be paid into a separate account and can only be used for passport related costs. Fee revenue cannot be used for general government revenue.
What would the fee be if we moved to ten year validity period?
Fees would be higher due to overhead costs being spread over much lower volume. This could mean the price of a passport will increase substantially.
How do our passport fees compare with those of other countries?
Passport fees compare favourably with other countries. For example, our passport fee is less than half of the Australian one (in New Zealand dollars) and their fees increase every year. Our passport is cheaper when compared with a UK one applied for in New Zealand.
Why are online passport fees cheaper?
Because there is a slightly lower cost in providing the service. The process is simpler and quicker than the traditional physical delivery method.
Is the Government considering any changes to the validity period?
The Government is considering some changes to the validity period to ensure more fairness for applicants renewing their passport before it expires and to ensure Kiwis get what they pay for. This is because some countries require a passport to be valid for up to six months beyond the date of entry to that state. What the Government is considering is a credit for unused time for applicants applying for a new passport shortly before expiry. So it means that a new passport applied for early will have the extra time transferred to it - i.e. five years PLUS nine months if this is the period in advance applied for. The exact maximum period for the credit is yet to be determined by the Government.
The Government has no plans to move to a ten year passport.