Passports should be for 10 years, not five

February 12th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A group lobbying for a return to a 10-year passport claims New Zealand are more expensive per year than most other comparable countries and the fee has become a simple revenue-gathering exercise.

Kyle Lockwood has presented a petition signed by about 12,000 people to Parliament to return from a 5-year to a 10-year passport and will speak to the select committee on his petition today, despite the Government ruling out extending the term last year.

A Taxpayers’ Union briefing report by Jordan McCluskey on international comparisons put the cost of a New Zealand passport at $28 a year – about double the cost of other countries such as France, Germany, Sweden, Britain, Canada and Sweden. Only Australia’s cost came close, costing $26.40 a year for a 10-year passport. Most of those countries also had 10-year passports. Mr McCluskey, who is also in the Young Nats, said the Government’s claim that five-year passports were necessary for security did not ring true given other countries such as Canada, China and the Netherlands had returned to 10 years recently.

The briefing from Jordan McCluskey of the Taxoayer’s Union is here.

While not all OECD countries have their terms publicly available, what has been discovered is that Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the UK and US are all on 10 year terms.

The argument that we need a shorter term so one can roll out new security features doesn’t hold water with me. One can and should roll out new security features whenever you can. But that doesn’t mean all passports have to be using them straight away. If people choose not to get a newer passport, then they end up with likely longer delays at the border. As an example those on an older passport can use the Smartgate service. But why force someone who may travel once every two years to get a new passport, just for the new technology.

Also of concern is that the Government has built up a surplus of $21 million from passport fees. This suggests the fees are too high, and should be reduced.

Tags: ,

38 Responses to “Passports should be for 10 years, not five”

  1. wreck1080 (3,797 comments) says:

    John Key has been questioned many times on the radio about this but he only says he’ll talk to his advisors and comes up with some bullshit reasons.

    With 3 kids, we have to renew passports quite often.

    Vote: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  2. iMP (2,333 comments) says:

    Especially when it took me 14 attempts to get the photo right because of the microscopic shadows, head tilt, squinting eyes…so frustrating. Once a decade PLEASE!

    Please send all failed passport photos post free to the Office of Maurice Williamson.

    Vote: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 2 You need to be logged in to vote
  3. Mrs Trellis (34 comments) says:

    Remind me who was in power when it was changed to 5 years?
    Umm, could it have been Labour?

    Vote: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  4. burt (7,988 comments) says:

    Also of concern is that the Government has built up a surplus of $21 million from passport fees. This suggests the fees are too high, and should be reduced.

    Rubbish … if people can afford to travel they can afford to pay for a passport. This is just another socialist tax grab and what would NZ be without tax on every dollar we earn and every dollar we spend.

    Vote: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 8 You need to be logged in to vote
  5. Fentex (909 comments) says:

    Also of concern is that the Government has built up a surplus of $21 million from passport fees. This suggests the fees are too high, and should be reduced.

    Isn’t that the nub then? Regardless of debatable logic about freshness of photos and modernity of security the salient point, especially for a union of tax payers interested in efficiency, is the inflated expense.

    Don’t muddy your argument by including the superfluous, stick to “they’re charging too much”.

    Vote: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  6. CJPhoto (218 comments) says:

    Given the countries you mention, if they can justify a 10 year passport, then so can we.

    As a side note, someone should ask John Key how many passports he and his staff have gone through as PM. I assume he has multiple due to visa requirement or do PM’s/diplomats/etc not have to worry with that sort of thing.

    Vote: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  7. mandk (874 comments) says:

    It’s not even 5 years, anyway. It’s effectively 4.5 years.
    Travel agent told me it is difficult to get on an international flight if your planned return date is within six months of your passport’s expiry date.

    Vote: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  8. PaulL (5,977 comments) says:

    Thought #1: If the problem is the cost, then focus on reducing the cost. No need to argue about 5 years v’s 10 years, just suggest that a 5 year passport should cost half as much as a 10 year passport.

    Thought #2: Many countries require a 1 year validity on your passport. A 5 year passport is actually a 4 year passport, just as a 10 year passport is actually a 9 year passport. Given the loss of 1 year at the end, the effect on cost per year is disproportionate.

    Vote: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  9. wreck1080 (3,797 comments) says:

    @IMP::Especially when it took me 14 attempts to get the photo right because of the microscopic shadows

    This reminds me of trying take a passport photo for my daughter after she was born — her cheeks were so chubby it was almost impossible to see both ears as required by law. We took about 200 digital photos until we got one where you could just see the tips of both ears. Being a baby, she was not particularly cooperative.

    Luckily, her cheeks are significantly thinner now she is 8.

    Vote: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  10. gump (1,542 comments) says:

    Having renewed my passport twice within the last twelve months, I’d certainly like to see the cost reduced.

    Vote: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  11. Tautaioleua (291 comments) says:

    It’s also a complete waste of good paper. How many people would use all the pages in their passport within 4.5 years? unless you’re a flight attendant or a pilot, this is extremely unlikely.

    A 10 year passport is the way to go. Security has nothing to do with it. America, home to the most ridiculous airport security in the world, is on a 10 year passport term.

    Does the government honestly expect us to believe that our security is greater than that available in the US because we renew our passports every 5 years instead of 10?

    NONSENSE!

    Vote: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  12. burt (7,988 comments) says:

    Does the government honestly expect us to believe that our security is greater than that available in the US because we renew our passports every 5 years instead of 10?

    You know it’s not about security – it’s just another way to raise revenue for government. No more no less.

    Vote: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  13. David Garrett (6,713 comments) says:

    When did we stop introducing/adopting new security features, and begin “rolling [them] out”?

    Vote: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  14. RRM (9,633 comments) says:

    DG – probably at about the same time we started having discussions around matters instead of discussions of matters, and began having systems for everything in place instead of just doing things…

    Vote: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  15. James Stephenson (2,085 comments) says:

    Yet another reason why I’m not likely to turn my Permanent Residence into Citizenship any time soon.

    Vote: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2 You need to be logged in to vote
  16. johnwellingtonwells (131 comments) says:

    People with older passports CANNOT use the Smartgate services – only the new passports – and they are restricted to Australia and New Zealand, but not all places. If travelling via Narita, try to look old and tired and you are ushered to the much shorter senior citizens queque. Always avoid LA because of the rotweillers on duty

    Vote: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  17. peterwn (3,205 comments) says:

    There seems to be bureaucratic capture here. Seems that some international standard calls for 5 year passports and there seems to be a desire to stick to it by officials. The other reason trotted out is some countries may revoke Kiwis’ visa free entry, but that does not hold water as UK passport holders have visa free entry to virtually the same set of countries as NZ (in fact a few more eg Paraguay).

    Incidentally if you renew a UK passport up to 9 months before expiry date, your new passport lasts for 10 years from the old passport’s expiry date so you get the full 10 years bang out of your passport if you renew, and you can renew at a time you are not travelling (a renewal is usually quite quick because less checking is required).

    Perhaps Peter Dunne may be more inclined to call bullshit on his officials than his predecessors have.

    It is one of the issues that National had better watch its backside on. Why should people join the party, help with election campaigns etc when they perceive that its Ministers have been captured by bureaucrats as is the case with passports.

    Vote: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  18. nickb (3,675 comments) says:

    DG – probably at about the same time we started having discussions around matters instead of discussions of matters, and began having systems for everything in place instead of just doing things…

    In my opinion it’s just another case of engaging wider stakeholders in blue sky thinking.

    Vote: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  19. Reid (16,091 comments) says:

    The argument that we need a shorter term so one can roll out new security features doesn’t hold water with me.

    It does with me. As we all know NZ passports are in huge demand from criminals because of the carte blanch it gives them compared with passports from other countries. The security features they are talking about is not so much things like holograms which distinguish a genuine passport from a Mumbai fake but rather, the ability to incorporate biometrics that confirms the person is who they say they are.

    You can buy a police certificate in many 3rd world countries for a few dollars, so that means nothing, these days. However, if say, the US or UK has a fingerprint record taken from an IED in Iraq that can be matched to a valid passport issued 3 years ago to a refugee called Mohammed Innocent, that would be picked up only when Mohammed crosses a border, which they may never do. And even if they did, that matching process may or may not be implemented with the country travelled to since it would require reciprocal agreements with that country which may or may not be currently in place, even if fingerprints were scanned at the border.

    A 5 year passport isn’t the total answer to that scenario, merely one piece in a complex puzzle, but the rate of change in biometric capture, capability and implementation in the area of tracking global movement, is changing so rapidly that 5 years is a lifetime, let alone ten.

    Vote: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 4 You need to be logged in to vote
  20. Manolo (13,514 comments) says:

    Don’t you worry, the greedy government keeps it at 5 years for your own security. Tui ad.
    It is a very easy way to fleece the population. Labour and Labour Lite are experts at that art.

    Vote: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  21. ByterNZ (26 comments) says:

    Does no one remember the catalyst behind changing the passport length from 10 years to 5 years? :
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2004_Israel%E2%80%93New_Zealand_passport_scandal

    So yes, the term needed to change to 5 years for us to make our passports much harder to forge, and needs to stay at 5 years for a few cycles until we see that people aren’t using our passports for false identities anymore.

    Vote: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3 You need to be logged in to vote
  22. gump (1,542 comments) says:

    @Reid

    The biometric data inside an NZ passport is extremely minimal. It doesn’t include fingerprints.

    Vote: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  23. peterwn (3,205 comments) says:

    Reid – the same can be said about USA and UK passports, but they are comfortable with 10 year passports. There might have been a case for 5 year passports for a brief period several years ago to speed the rollout of the ‘chipped’ passports and concurrently with the tidying up and purging of the passport database (including matching all passport photos with each other to catch duplications and presumably matching with ‘deaths’ records), but this no longer applies. Another advance which reduces justification for 5 year passports is passports presented at checkin at most airports can be checked against the issuer’s database, or at least numbers checked so there is a very high risk of a dud passport being detected even before the passenger boards the plane.

    So the Russian spies Peter and Helen Kroger nowadays would have found it almost impossible to wrangle NZ passports out of the NZ Embassy in Paris under the names of two deceased Hawkes Bay children.

    Vote: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  24. Reid (16,091 comments) says:

    Reid – the same can be said about USA and UK passports, but they are comfortable with 10 year passports.

    I suspect they’ll be changing those rules in the not to distant future peter.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2 You need to be logged in to vote
  25. rouppe (940 comments) says:

    As an example those on an older passport can use the Smartgate service.

    Those on older passports cannot use Smartgate.

    In fact those on newer passports can’t either if they are travelling with a child under 16 years cannot use Smartgate, even if the child has a new passport.

    And Smartgate isn’t that fast. I recently traveled with a group to Cairns, and some went through the attended gate, some through Smartgate. It wasn’t unusual for the former to be waiting for the latter on the other side.

    Vote: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  26. labrator (1,846 comments) says:

    If there is an argument that we need chipped passports then just be explicit about that. For some people, they need a new passport every time they fly internationally now as their international holidays are 4-5 years apart. That’s expensive for a family.

    Vote: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  27. profile (13 comments) says:

    The four year passport is a disgrace
    I live in a third world country with three kids. Have to use express option to minimise time without passport. So that sets me back $450/year incl courier. Not to mention work visa changeovers at this end if passport expires… Having a ten year renewal is safer in a medical emergency.
    Another case of Labour bringing in bad policies and National too gutless to rectify.

    Vote: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  28. peterwn (3,205 comments) says:

    Reid – NZ can always change back if UK and USA change. Anyway if UK changes they would probably effectively issue 5year 9 month passports.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  29. kowtow (7,914 comments) says:

    Basically it’s a disguised tax on the travelling public.

    Vote: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  30. DJP6-25 (1,301 comments) says:

    RRM 11.41 AM. Also the same time ‘we’ substituted shined for shone, octopuses for octopi, giraffes for giraffe, fishes for fish,zebras for zebra,
    overturned for capsized when referring to ships and boats. Mail carrier for mailman, and firefighter for fireman.

    Vote: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  31. Alan (1,077 comments) says:

    I guess it depends how often you use it.

    I did 100 trips to Australia in around 2.5 years, so the cost per use was very small.

    If you are using it as a once off with a family, then yes, it’s a big cost.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  32. gazzmaniac (2,319 comments) says:

    And Smartgate isn’t that fast. I recently traveled with a group to Cairns, and some went through the attended gate, some through Smartgate. It wasn’t unusual for the former to be waiting for the latter on the other side.

    Smartgate is brilliant at Brisbane. There is usually no wait for the service and when there is a wait it’s only a minute or so. It is a world apart from having to queue to see a dude with a stamp.

    Vote: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  33. mister nui (1,004 comments) says:

    As a frequent traveller I can’t even make a 5 year passport last the full 5 years, even with an APEC card, which does cut out quite a number of Visa’s, but doesn’t really reduce the number of stamps. Even asking customs officials to please not stamp a blank page usually results in a “I’ll stamp any page I fucking like”.

    Anyway, I’m not sure that this is a revenue generation exercise, yes of course the gummint is collecting more, but come on, in the scheme of things it is hardly going to bring in the piles of cash that some are thinking. Remember, it also has an administrative cost. Considering it was sent up by Clarkula’s regime, maybe it was public works scheme….

    I have definitely signed the petition to bring back 10 year passports, as I believe there is no actual rational reason for 5 year passports, and believe the cost imposition on the general travelling public is unnecessary.

    Vote: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  34. slijmbal (1,223 comments) says:

    As a passport photograph has to be sans glasses someone very shortsighted struggles with smartgate as I cannot see where to look at – I don’t give a f**k about it to be blunt.

    NZ has no real problem with passport forgery – this is a myth.

    5 years is just a silly time for a passport life especially as the costs keep going through the roof – no justification for this.

    Vote: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  35. corrigenda (142 comments) says:

    It would make it a whole lot easier if everyone was micro chipped at birth. Then when you want to travel, just present your arm or whatever to be scanned, and wallahh away you go!!

    Vote: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2 You need to be logged in to vote
  36. Viking2 (11,244 comments) says:

    Interesting idea.
    Since I first learnt about DNA (back in the mid 60′s), and then watched as bar coding came in I have believed that one day soon there will be a DNA reader that just like any bar code reader will look at your skin, eye or somewhere and recognize your DNA.

    Far fetched, well I don’t think so. Its a small transition from doing this stuff in a lab to full blown DNA scanning.
    Biometric eye scanning is close.
    One should look how far DNA testing has come in the last 5 years.
    Give it another 5 and see if it doesn’t come to pass.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  37. wreck1080 (3,797 comments) says:

    Key is being a rich prick here actually. ….

    “Key said today that while having to renew passports every five years was “an annoyance” for people, their cost was competitive internationally.”

    When the report clearly shows NZ has the highest passport cost of just about any country.

    But, when you’ve got 50 million banked, it doesn’t really concern.

    Vote: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  38. Deane Jessep (58 comments) says:

    I just discovered the smart gate service does not even work for children, forcing my wife and I to join them in the slow queue. Bluntly its bullshit that they use that excuse to increase the revenue collection but don’t even get the system working for everyone who wants to use it. Bring back 10 year passports!

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.