Quick online passport renewal pleases

TOM PULLAR-STRECKER
Last updated 08:11 09/11/2012
passport stand
FAIRFAX NZ
Claire Eichler with her passport, one of the first 1000 to be renewed online.

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More than 1000 people have renewed their passports over the internet since the online option was introduced last Friday, representing about one in six of all adult passport renewals.

Among them was WelTec interior design student Claire Eichler, who had her passport hand-delivered by Internal Affairs Minister Chris Tremain yesterday.

Mr Tremain said the Government had some way to go before achieving its 2017 target of getting 70 per cent of 10 common transactions with the public done online. But the initial 17 per cent take-up rate for the online passport was ahead of forecast.

It showed that the Government needed to press on with plans to modernise the delivery of public services, despite controversies such as the privacy breach surrounding Work and Income's computer kiosks. "They want to be sure of the security, but New Zealanders want us to keep rolling this sort of thing out."

As well as benefiting from a $10 discount on the new standard price of $134.50, people renewing passports online also appear to be enjoying faster turnaround times.

Ms Eichler had applied for her passport on Monday. Another satisfied customer tweeted they had ordered their passport last Friday and got it on Wednesday.

"As uptake grows, we may not be able to turn them all around within two or three days but we have set a 'benchmark' of 10 days," Mr Tremain said.

The Passport Office had no easy way of telling how many online applicants had taken an electronic passport photo themselves using a digital camera or computer webcam. Ms Eichler, as the Passport Office still recommends, had a photo taken professionally.

Passport Office manager David Philp said the webcams on iPads were certainly capable of taking a valid passport photo if people were renewing online, although a webcam on a five-year-old computer "might not cut it". Fairfax NZ

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