If you’re an Australian who was born or had parents born overseas, and are looking to renew your passport, you may need to allow yourself extra time before jetting off abroad.
A number of Aussies recently spoke to ABC Radio telling their stories of woe relating to passport renewals. The common thread was the requirement to prove that they were Australian citizens even though they’d held multiple passports and had previously renewed them without issue.
To prove their citizenship, once more, many applicants have had to apply for a citizenship certificate, which has involved an extra application process, and in some cases, the cancellation of pre-booked holidays.
The ABC could not confirm if the policy was just put into effect, or whether it had been more strongly enforced in recent times, but the Department of Foreign Affairs stated that “long-standing law requires DFAT to be satisfied of a person's citizenship before issuing a passport, including each time it issues a new passport to a person with a current or expired passport”.
“Where citizenship is hard to establish for any reason, DFAT asks the applicant to obtain evidence from the Department of Home Affairs,” a DFAT spokesperson said.
One such ‘questionable’ Australian is Victorian resident Alice Mayor, who was born in India in 1969 to an Australian-born couple.
Whilst Ms Mayor moved to Australia when she was five months old, and has held three Aussie passports since, when she went to renew her passport this year, she was told she must provide evidence of her citizenship.
Her nearly 90-year-old father, Chris Mayor, told ABC Melbourne the extra process had forced his family to cancel an expensive holiday to Europe.
“She was a citizen by descent from her two Australian parents and they said it would take anything from two to four months to get all that processed,” he said.
“We'd made all the arrangements, airlines, B&Bs, car rental, insurance, everything - and we had to cancel because there was no way Ali could get her passport in time.
“She feels humiliated by this attitude of the Government questioning her citizenship.
“Her great-great-grandfather was the acting premier of Queensland who was part of federation. She pays tax, she's got Medicare, everything … there's never been a question.”
Another listener, Rose from Geelong, said her trip abroad was also in doubt for the same reason.
“When I went to apply they said I had to get my Australian citizenship papers,” said Rose, who moved to Australia when she was 10 months old and was listed on her parents’ naturalization papers.
“I applied four months ago to get my Australian citizenship certificate and I'm still waiting.”
Another woman told the broadcaster it took her from October to March to get the certificates for her overseas-born, adopted son, despite the fact he was serving in the Australian Army.