Passport wait increases

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New Zealanders planning to travel are now advised to apply for their passports at least 10 weeks in advance, according to the latest guidance from the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA).

This new timeframe extends the previously suggested eight weeks due to increased demand and significant upgrades to the passport system.

The DIA has described the updates to the passport processing system as the most substantial change in over a decade, aimed at improving service and ensuring it meets future needs. However, adapting to the new system has taken longer than expected, causing delays and a backlog of applications.

As of May 1, the DIA is processing 51,002 passports, a significant increase from the 2023 average of 23,000. Factors contributing to the longer wait times include the learning curve associated with the new system and over 9,000 applications pending additional information from applicants.

Despite these challenges, the DIA reports that 54% of all passports are issued within 15 days. They remain cautious, however, recommending a 10-week buffer to account for processing and delivery, especially considering the historical surge in applications seen in May.

For those needing a passport, the DIA’s advice is clear: apply as soon as travel plans are made, use the online application process for efficiency, and regularly check the official passport website for the latest information on costs, processing times, and delivery.

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