Thousands of eager travellers have been forced to wait in line for up to eight hours for a new passport amid unprecedented demand.
Australians around the country have joined massive queues outside passport offices in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth to renew their expired documents.
The demand for new passports follows two years of international border closures, with holiday-starved Aussies finally looking to make an escape.
With 2.4million passports expiring over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic, processing times have doubled since October 2021.
Australians around the country have joined massive queues outside passport offices in Sydney. Melbourne and Perth to renew their passports (pictured, lines in Sydney)
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has advised holidaymakers to allow six weeks for their new passport, however many say they have waited longer.
Citizens can choose to pay an extra $225 on top of the $308 application fee for their passport to be priority processed in two days.
However, it appears a four-week backlog has also caused these wait times to soar.
Sydney’s passport office usually receives 7,000 to 9,000 applications every week, however requests in recent months have ballooned to 12,000.
It remains a similar story at the Melbourne office, where desperate Aussies – including mothers with children – have spent three hours waiting in the cold.
Footage of the lengthy queues outside the Sydney passport office have caused uproar on social media with others taking to Twitter to complain.
‘If you want to go overseas next year, order your passport today at the latest,’ one man tweeted on Tuesday.
‘How are some people getting passports back and others of us are waiting well over eight weeks,’ another woman asked.
Citizens can pay an extra $225 on top of the $308 application fee for their passport to be priority processed in two days (pictured, a stock image of an Australian passport)
With 2.4million passports expiring over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic, processing times have doubled since October (pictured, lines outside the Sydney passport office)
‘I’m not talking about those who opted for the rapid turnaround service. Stop putting people on hold for hours then cutting them off.’
‘I visited passport office Sydney to expedite my son’s passport on 2nd June, because my father in law passed away and we needed to travel immediately,’ another wrote.
‘They said they can expedite the application after paying the priority fee, but cannot get it until 7th. Because there is 10 times normal load it seems.
‘What should people do in case of emergencies? There is no support on phone. Absolutely no care or compassion.’
Sharnyce Hudson and Ethan Hall from Western Australia were looking forward to a holiday in Bali, yet they are still waiting for their passports after nine weeks.
While Sydney’s passport office normally receives around 7,000 to 9,000 applications, requests have ballooned to 10,000 to 12,000 (pictured, arrivals at Perth airport in March)
The pair said they drove five hours through the night from Geraldton to Perth to get to the Australian passport office a day before they are due to fly out.
‘We are supposed to be flying out tomorrow at 3.40am and at this point it doesn’t look like we’re going anywhere,’ Ms Hudson told 7News.
One mother has plans to travel to the UK with her five-month-old baby, but has had to wait months for her child’s passport to be approved.
‘I’ve been waiting three months for his passport and we travel a week on Monday. I’ve tried to email, the phone line is completely dead,’ she said on Friday.
A DFAT spokeswoman has since apologised for the delays and said waiting times should level out ‘over the coming weeks’.
CEO of the Australian Federation of Travel Agents, Dean Long, warned it might be the end of the year before passport wait times eased (pictured, Melbourne’s Department of Immigration)
‘We continue to onboard and train additional passport processing and call centre staff to meet the increased demand,’ she said.
‘Customers will soon start to see a reduction in the current delays over the coming weeks. We thank people for their patience.’
However, CEO of the Australian Federation of Travel Agents, Dean Long, warned it might be the end of the year before passport wait times eased.
‘There’s about two million passports expired in the last two years and there’s just not enough capacity in that system to process the number of applications they’re trying to,’ he told Neil Mitchell on 3AW Radio.
‘We’re advising our customers … it’s about eight to 12 weeks.’