The Australian passport is the most expensive travel document in the world but is far from being the most powerful.
Aussies wanting to renew their passports will pay $325 – $60 more than Mexicans who have the second most expensive passport ($240), according to new research from international insurance firm William Russell,
Aussies pay eight times more for their passport than people living in the Czech Republic, whose travel document costs just $40 and is the cheapest in the world.
Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has defended the cost of the passport, saying it was difficult to make comparisons as foreign passport fees are calculated differently.
In a statement a spokesperson for DFAT said the Australian passport was “respected internationally as a high-quality travel document”.
“That’s a key reason why Australians receive visa-free travel to many countries — a practical benefit for many travelling Australians,” the spokesperson said.
“Our Australian passport has a high level of technological sophistication, backed by rigorous anti-fraud measures, which ensures its integrity.”
DFAT unveiled its new “hi-tech” Aussie R-Series passport earlier this year, complete with a data chip, hidden images printed in invisible ink and a tribute to the late Queen.
But even with its new savvy features the Australian passport is far from the world’s most powerful.
Twenty-two countries have more powerful passports than Australia, according to the latest Henley Passport Index.
Canadian and Greek passports allow their citizens to enjoy the same amount of visa-free travel to 186 countries, but cost significantly less at $190 and $150 respectively.
The Japanese passport was placed first on the index for the sixth year in a row, and costs just $170.
There is some good news, however, for those in the market for a fresh Aussie passport.
DFAT reported that wait times for new passports have finally stabilised after the chaos of last year. Demand for new passports is at a record high, the department said, but “99 per cent of routine passport applications (are now) being processed within 10 business days”.
“Australians should continue to plan ahead and allow at least six weeks to apply for, or renew, their passport,” a DFAT spokesperson told the Courier Mail.
“Wait times may be longer when applying for children’s passport due to the requirement for additional identification checks.”