passports.govt.nz

New Zealand passports | Uruwhenua Aotearoa

The Department of Internal Affairs | Te Tari Taiwhenua

 

Questions and answers on passport fee changes and the Passport Online Renewal Service

From 2 November, 2012, passport fees for adult applicants will reduce and eligible adult applicants will have the choice to renew their passport online.

Passport fee changes

Which passport fees will go down?

Fees for adult first time passports and adult renewal passports will go down. The price for an adult passport is currently $153.30 (inclusive GST). From 2 November, 2012, the price will fall to (all prices inclusive GST):

  • adult first-time application (printed form) $140.00
  • adult renewal (printed form) $134.50
  • adult renewal (online) $124.50

How will the Department handle refunds on 2 November?

The new fee structure came into effect at midnight on 2 November. Any application received by the Department from 2 November will:

  • have the correct reduced fee deducted if paid by credit card
  • if paid by other than credit card, a refund cheque will be issued with the passport

What is the rationale for the differing level of fees?

The cost of an online application is lower because of lower processing costs and to encourage uptake of the Passport Online Renewal Service. Paper-based renewal application processing costs are lower than those for first time applicants.

Are fees going down for applicants who send their applications to the Department’s offices in Australia and the United Kingdom?

No, regulated fees for applicants who apply to the Department’s Sydney or London passports offices will remain the same. The amount actually paid will change as the Department has updated  the exchange rate between Australia and New Zealand and Great Britain and New Zealand. Applicants who are eligible have the choice to submit their application using the Passport Online Renewal Service from anywhere in the world and pay the reduced New Zealand dollar online fee for adult renewal passports. Applicants can also send their paper applications directly to New Zealand and pay the reduced New Zealand dollar fees for adult passports. 

Why are child fees and fees for other travel documents not being reduced?

Child fees are approximately half the cost of adult passports. No changes have been made to the fees for child passports, refugee travel documents and certificates of identity as fees for adult passports already subsidise the production costs (which are higher than for the adult passport) for these products.

Why haven't fees gone down before now?

The change to a five-year passport has increased the volume of renewals and a growing surplus has built up in the account, allowing fees to be reduced. The Government is committed to returning this surplus and future savings to passport holders and providing even better public services at lower cost.

What happens to the money applicants pay for a passport?

The cost of the New Zealand passport is funded purely by the people that get one on a cost-recovery basis. The money is not used for other purposes by the Government. All fees must by law be used for passports and related overheads.

Will I get a refund on the cost of my current passport?

The Department is bound by legislation and can only charge the fee set out in law at any given time. It cannot issue refunds for previously processed applications. We will refund overpayments for people whose application is in transit / or who were not aware of the fee change and paid the incorrect amount.

The Passport Online Renewal Service

What is the Passport Online Renewal Service?

The Passport Online Renewal Service allows eligible adults over 16 to renew their New Zealand passport online at www.passports.govt.nz. Applicants will need an ‘RealMe login’ (a username and password) and a digital passport photo in electronic format, in addition to the usual requirements to use the online service. Getting an RealMe login is simple, you can get one as part of the online application process or use your existing RealMe login. A range of photo-takers can provide you with an electronic photo.

How does the service work?

Before you apply you will need:

  • your existing passport.
  • an identity referee, someone who has known you for more than a year, is over 16, is not a family member, not your spouse or partner and does not live at the same address as you. You must provide your identity referee's name, passport number and phone number.
  • a digital passport photo in electronic format that meets the Department's digital passport and technical photo standards. We recommend you get your photo from a specialist photo-taker.
  • RealMe login. You can re-use your existing login. If you don't have a login you can create one during the application process. It will only take a few minutes.
  • a credit or debit card

Once you have this information, go to www.passports.govt.nz and renew your passport online.

Is New Zealand the only country in the world where applicants can renew their passport entirely online?

The Department is not aware of any other country where passport applicants can renew their passport entirely online.

Eligibility

Who is eligible?

Adults over 16 who are renewing an existing New Zealand passport. You are not eligible to use the online channel if you:

  • are renewing your diplomatic or official passport
  • you have reported your most recent passport lost or stolen
  • you have changed your name since your most recent passport has been issued
  • you have an endorsement printed on the observation page of your passport or you require an endorsement to be printed on your passport

Why aren’t children and first-time passport holders eligible?

For each type of passport application, the Department undertakes a range of manual and automated identity checks to confirm that:

  • the identity in the application exists
  • the person making the application owns the identity
  • the applicant is eligible for a New Zealand passport (you must be a New Zealand citizen to get a New Zealand passport)

 For adult renewals the Department can verify the identity of the applicant against the identity data it already holds on that person in the passport system. For example the Department can compare the photo of the applicant against the photo in the passport system via specialised photo-matching software. The Department’s new passport system automates many previously manual checks for adult renewal applications. 

For first time applicants, child or adult, and child renewals, the Department needs to carry out a range of identity and eligibility checks which include a physically-signed witness statement confirming the identity of the applicant. Some of these checks must be done manually and cannot be automated. These manual checks mean that the Department is not able to offer online child renewal applications at this time.

Will they become eligible in the future?

The Department’s current plans only extend to adult renewals. We will assess whether eligibility criteria can be extended in the future to allow more adults and possibly children renewing their passport to use the service in the future. We do not expect to make decisions until 2014.

RealMe login

What is an RealMe login?

An RealMe login is a username and password you can use to log on to a range of government websites.

How do you get an RealMe login?

When you apply to use an online government service that requires an RealMe login, such as the Passport Online Renewal Service, you can create a login during the registration process for that service. If you already have an RealMe login,you can use that.

Why do you need an RealMe login?

You need an RealMe login for the Passport Online Renewal Service so you can save a part-completed application and return to it later.

What do you do if you forget your RealMe login?

You can easily recover your username or reset your password online, by clicking the link on the RealMe Log on screen. You can also contact the RealMe Help Desk, which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

How secure is your RealMe login?

The service uses some of the very best security standards, practices and guidelines available and ongoing security reviews are undertaken.

The security between the online application website and the RealMe login has been well tested and we are confident that there are no vulnerabilities between systems

Digital passport photos in electronic format

How do you get a digital photo in electronic format?

The Department recommends you visit an experienced photo taker to get your digital photo in electronic format. The photo-taker will provide you with an electronic file in jpg or jpeg format. You will upload the photo at the appropriate stage of the online application process.

What are the standards for a digital photo in electronic format?

There are two sets of requirements for electronic passport photos:

  • electronic passport photo standards
  • technical photo requirements

The Department’s digital passport photo standards are largely similar to the standards for print photos. The full digital passport photo standards are below. All digital passport photos must meet these standards:

  • Full colour
  • Photo must be less than 6 months old
  • Head centred with a clear gap around the sides and top of the head, including hair
  • Maximum size of head, including hair, must be 75% of photo
  • True image, not altered in any way
  • In focus, with no red-eye and no reflected light on the face
  • The background must be plain and light
  • Strong contrast between image and background
  • No shadows
  • Head straight to the camera
  • Eyes open
  • Mouth closed
  • Neutral expression, not smiling or frowning
  • No hair across your face or eyes as eyes must be clearly visible
  • Eyes must be clearly showing through glasses, with no reflection
  • No glasses with heavy-rimmed frames
  • No sunglasses, or glasses with tinted lenses that obscure your eyes
  • No head bands or head coverings.

This last requirement is different to the standards for print photos which do allow head bands or head coverings for religious or medical reasons.  The online service is not available for customers who require an endorsement for reasons such as wearing head bands or head coverings because the Department uses a specific process to issue endorsements where they are required.  The endorsement service is not available on the online service.

The technical photo requirements are:

  • File type: Jpg or Jpeg
  • File size: Greater than 500kb and less than 10MBDimensions: Minimum 900 pixels wide x 1200 pixels high -- maximum 4500 pixels wide x 6000 pixels high
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 (Width:Height ratio)

How do I know if the photo-taker has given me a photo that meets the standards?

Experienced photo takers should be able to provide you with a photo that meets both the electronic passport photo standards and technical photo requirements. At the appropriate point in the online application process, you will upload your photo and the system will tell you whether that photo has been accepted. You have three attempts to upload the photo.

What do I do if the photo does not meet the standards?

If you have paid a professional photo-taker for the photo take the photo back to the photo-taker. The Department works closely with the photo-taker industry to help photo-takers meet the standards. The Department has produced a You Tube video for customers which you can view on our website at http://www.passports.govt.nz/Electronic-photo-standards

Will I know if my online photo has been accepted by the Department?

The Passport Online Renewal Service will check that your passport photo meets the standards. The test is automatic when you upload you passport photo during the application process. If the photo is not suitable you will be advised why, and be able to submit a different photo.

Can the Department take my online photo?

The Department does not provide passport photos. The photo-taker industry provides passport photos to customers.

Where can I find a list of photo-takers who take electronic passport photos?

A large range of pharmacies, photographers, photo chains and small businesses offer both a hard copy and an electronic passport photo service. The Department has been working with the photo taker industry for more than a year to help the industry prepare for the introduction of the online service.

Identity referee

What is an 'identity referee'?

An 'identity referee' is someone who has known you for more than a year, is over 16, is not a family member, not your spouse or partner and does not live at the same address as you. You must provide your identity referee’s name and  passport number (exactly as they appear in their New Zealand passport) and daytime phone number.

How do I find one?

Your identity referee could be a friend, a workmate, someone on your sports team or community group, so long as they meet the criteria for being an identity referee.

What if I cannot find an identity referee?

You will not be able to renew your passport using the Online Renewal Service if you cannot find an identity referee. You will still be able to apply by completing a hard copy application form and a statutory declaration.

Security

How secure is the system?

The system underpinning the Passport Online Renewal Service is highly secure. The website for the online channel uses Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS).  The Department andan external expert provider have completed robust security testing and have designed the system to be secure from external attack. For example, features have been included which require the customer to enter information that an automated system cannot replicate.

Could someone substitute their own photo as part of someone else’s application and commit identity theft?

The Department has recently introduced new passport photo matching technology. With the use of facial recognition technology there is almost no chance that a person can hold two passports in different identities with the same facial image (the incidence of passport fraud in New Zealand is already extremely uncommon).

Is the paper version more secure?

Both the paper and online application systems are secure. The Department carries out a range of robust identity and secure checks on each application.

How do you check my identity if I don’t have to send back my old passport?

As an adult renewing your passport, your previous passport photo is held within our passports database. Using many-to-many passport photo matching technology, the Department checks the image in the database against the image you provide. The Department also does a range of other automated checks to confirm your identity and you are required to provide an identity referee who will confirm your identity.

Where are my electronic details stored when I do my online application?

Applicants’ details are sent to the Department’s secure system where they are checked against details already held on the applicant.

Cost

Why did you reduce the price of an online passport application?

The Government reduced the cost of an online passport application to encourage passport applicants to make their application online. Approximately 70 per cent of all passport applications are adult renewals. The Passport Online Renewal Service is part of the Government’s commitment to better, more convenient, cost-effective public services. Take-up rates for the service will be measured as part of ‘Result 10’: ensuring that an average of 70 per cent of transactions with government are completed electronically by 2017.

Why did you reduce the price by the amount chosen?

The size of the price reduction was carefully determined by officials and the Government balancing the need to provide lower fees for the New Zealand public against the ongoing long-term investment in passport services and systems.

Why did you reduce the cost of the other passport fees?

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 was scope to reduce fees.

How will your revenue be affected by the reduction in the cost of the passport?

Passport revenue is always carefully managed, balancing the need to provide lower fees for the New Zealand public against the ongoing long-term investment in passport services and system.

Speed of service

If I renew my adult passport online, will I get my renewed passport faster than if I use the hardcopy service?

The guaranteed timeframe for online and hard copy applications is the same. On receipt of correct information, including a passport photo that meets the Department’s passport photo standards and technical requirements, applicants can expect to receive their passport upto 10 working days plus delivery.

If I renew my adult passport online, is there an urgent service if I need my passport sooner?

There is no urgent service option available for customers using the Online Renewal Service.  It is more effective for those applicants needing to travel urgently to contact office to make individual arrangements that can normally be tailored to their needs.

Service support for Passport Online Renewal Service

From 2 November 2012, passport applicants renewing their adult passport who require support, can visit our website www.passports.govt.nz twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

Hard-copy service

Does the roll-out of the online service mean the end of the hard-copy service?

The Department will continue to provide a hard copy passport application service. The Passport Online Renewal Service is simply an additional service for customers.