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The wait for new passports increases even more

Kiwis are urged to apply for a passport 10 weeks before it is needed, the Department of Home Affairs says.

Last month, the DIA suggested applying at least eight weeks before a passport is needed.

The additional increase in wait time can be attributed to both seasonal demand and updates being made to the passport system.

The DIA told 1News the update is the biggest change to the passport system in more than a decade.

“There are significant benefits for people, and the upgrade means this vital service can continue to be delivered to New Zealanders in the future.”

Although it was anticipated that the new system would cause some delays, the DIA added that it took longer for the team to get used to the new platform, resulting in a small delay.

“Reducing wait times is a priority for the Department. The gap between applications received and applications processed (causing a backlog) is reducing because productivity is increasing to match incoming applications.”

As of May 1, there are 51,002 passports in process. In 2023, the average was about 23,000.

More than 9,000 applications are awaiting customer information, which the DIA says adds processing time.

Currently, 54% of all passports are issued within 15 days. However, the DIA told 1News it is being “cautious” in advising applicants to allow about 10 weeks for processing and delivery.

“May has historically been a big month for passport applications, meaning processing may take longer due to increased demand. This seasonal fluctuation, along with system changes, has created a short-term backlog that the Department is working to resolve.

“The Department provides the estimated time frame so that applicants know how long it may take to issue their passport and can plan accordingly.”

As for the backlog, the DIA said it is addressing the issue by having a dedicated team to respond and is running weekend shifts and overtime along with additional support and training for staff.

The DIA also encouraged people to read the full guide on passport photos, which can extend passport processing time if the photo does not meet requirements.

“The general advice is that passport photos should be a portrait, in color and taken within the last 6 months. Selfies are not accepted. Customers can also check their photo against technical requirements with the online photo checker at the passport website”.

The DIA’s general advice to New Zealanders to obtain their passport on time remains the same:

  • Check if you need to apply for a passport as soon as you start planning your trip.
  • If you need to renew your passport or apply for a new one, do it online. Applying online is the easiest and fastest way to obtain a New Zealand passport.
  • Check the latest information on the cost, timing and delivery of passports on the passport website: passports.govt.nz.
  • Please consider processing times when applying for your passport and allow additional time for delivery.