Passports should be for 10 years, not five

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.

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