Five-year passport law change on hold

Last updated 05:00 19/05/2014

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A law change ensuring people are not "shortchanged" on five-year passports is on hold while ministers await a report on a petition calling for 10-year passports to be restored.

Kyle Lockwood, a New Zealander living in Melbourne who started the petition, said he was hopeful the delay meant his campaign was being taken seriously.

The Government planned to introduce an amendment to the Passports Act last year that would mean passports would be valid for up to five years and nine months, or a full five years from the date of expiry of the holders' existing passport, whichever was shorter.

The change was intended to ensure people always got an extra five years of use from new New Zealand passports, which critics say are among the most expensive in the world.

Some countries require visitors to have six months' use left on their passports before issuing them with a visa, so travellers to those countries may need to renew passports well before they expire.

Internal Affairs spokesman Michael Mead said the law change and a related technology project regarding online applications would be on hold until Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dunne had the opportunity to consider a report that is being prepared by the Government Administration select committee on the petition to return to 10-year passports.

The petition, signed by 15,900 people, was submitted to Parliament in February.

Labour has vowed to reinstate 10-year passports if it is elected in September. But Prime Minister John Key has appeared unmoved.

Lockwood said the indications he had from the select committee were positive, as was the fact that The Netherlands and Canada had reintroduced 10-year passports.

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- The Dominion Post

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