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

On 2nd November, 2012, passport fees for adult applicants were reduced and eligible adult applicants now have the choice to renew their passport online if they meet certain criteria.

Passport fee changes

Which passport fees have changed?

Fees for adult first time passports and adult renewal passports have been reduced. The price for an adult passport was $153.30 (inclusive GST). From 2 November, 2012, the price (including GST) was reduced to:

  • 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 from 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?

All passport fees are regulated in NZD. The fees for lodging physical applications outside of New Zealand were not affected by this change. From time to time, the Department conducts reviews of the exchange rates with Australia and the UK to ensure we are charging the correct amount. 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 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 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.


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 is currently in the process of extending our online service to a wider range of applicants.

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 a RealMe login?

When you apply to use an online government service that requires a 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 a RealMe login, you can use that.

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 can be found on our Online Passport Photo Requirements page.

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

The Department offers a tool that allows you to check your photos online- our Online Photo Checker. This tool lets you check your photos before you apply to ensure it meets our online standards.

Important - successful upload of photo

A photo that is successfully uploaded to the Online Renewal Service as part of an Online Renewal still needs to be assessed by our office to ensure it meets all photo requirements. As a result of this assessment the photo may not meet all requirements, and you will be contacted about providing a new 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

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.

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.


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.


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. Up take rates for the service will be measured as part of ‘Result 10’: ensuring that an average of 70% of transactions with the 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 had 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 up to 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

Since 2 November 2012, passport applicants renewing their adult passport who require support, can visit our website 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. However, if you have applied online and an urgent need to travel arises, it is possible to upgrade the application to the urgent service.

Paper application forms

Does the roll-out of the online service mean the end of the paper application form?

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