The mighty New Zealand passport: Everything you need to know

The New Zealand is ranked the seventh-most powerful in the world.

The New Zealand is ranked the seventh-most powerful in the world.

Unless you're a frequent globetrotter, you probably don't spend too much time thinking about your passport.

Let's be honest - you keep it stuffed in your sock drawer, only letting it out once a year, when you decide you're due for a tropical holiday (only to discover, annoyingly, it expired months ago).

Here are some facts to help you reacquaint yourself with your most important travel document.

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Passports are a record of your travels.

Passports are a record of your travels.

New Zealand has one of the world's most powerful passports.

According to citizenship and planning firm Henley & Partners, NZ passports are the seventh-most powerful in the world, based on how many countries can be visited without applying for a visa. Kiwis are able to visit 171 countries and territories without any hassles.

But that means we're targeted by passport thieves.

In the year to July, 2315 NZ passports were reported stolen, and immediately placed on the lost and stolen database held by Interpol. Now, that might seem like a pretty insignificant number, considering 658,802 passports were issued to Kiwis last year. But the Department of Internal Affairs says "we are well aware that the strong reputation and travel accessibility offered by the NZ passport makes it a target, which is one of the reasons we put a lot of effort and expertise into the strength of its issuance, integrity and controls."

If you lose your passport (or think it's been stolen), it's important to report it to the nearest passport office or embassy, high commission or consulate so it can be cancelled and border control authorities can be notified. Caught with a fake NZ passport? You could be jailed for up to 10 years, or fined up to $250,000. Or both.

The design of the New Zealand passport makes it hard to forge.
Grant Fleming

The design of the New Zealand passport makes it hard to forge.

It's pretty for a reason.

The beautiful design of the NZ passport actually makes it much more difficult to counterfeit. The artwork depicts themes of navigation and travel, representing the long journeys Kiwis have made throughout history to explore the world.

There are other cool features throughout the passport you might not have noticed - like how the Southern Cross travels from right to left, representing the movement of the constellation through the sky. The colour also changes from purple to orange to green to blue, which represents dawn to twilight.

This passport was considered "damaged" by Jetstar, and its owner wasn't allowed to board the plane.

This passport was considered "damaged" by Jetstar, and its owner wasn't allowed to board the plane.

It's transgender-friendly.

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NZ passports can be issued with an M (male), F (female) or X (indeterminate/unspecified), without the applicant having to change their birth certificates or citizenship records.

It lasts for 10 years.

Since November last year, all new adult passports issued are valid for 10 years. A child passport (under 16) still lasts for just five years, because their appearance is more likely to change. A standard adult passport will set you back $180, and a child passport costs $105.

But don't forget the six-month rule.

Many countries require travellers to have a passport that is valid for at least six months into the future from the date you enter. In some cases, that means renewing your passport well before its expiry date. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade recommends Kiwis check with the embassy or diplomatic office of any country you are visiting if you are unsure.

And you need to keep it in good condition.

The Department of Internal Affairs says damage to your passport can affect the photograph and the performance of the security chip that contains your personal information. If your passport is water damaged, ripped, or in a generally bad condition, you may be refused permission to enter a country.

No joke - last year, a German man was denied boarding on a Jetstar flight to New Zealand because his "dog-eared" passport was considered to be in an unacceptable condition.

You also need to keep at least one page blank.

Collecting stamps as you travel around the world is fun, but if you don't have at least one empty visa page, you might be refused entry into a country. Unfortunately, you can't just request extra pages. If you fill up your passport before it expires, you have to apply for a new one.

Almost anyone can apply for a passport online.

As long as you have a RealMe verified identity, you can order your passport online. This includes adults applying for their first passport, adult renewals, and parents renewing their children's passports. The online passport service is expected to expand this year to include applications by family groups, urgent applications to replace lost or stolen passports, and renewals for people who have changed their names.

You can take your own passport photo.

It can be embarrassing getting your stern-faced passport photo taken at the pharmacy, but thankfully there is a less awkward option. You can now take a photo in the comfort of your own home, and upload it to the Online Photo Checker to make sure it meets all of the requirements (and be warned, there are still a lot of them. No selfies or smiles allowed).

You can use your passport for things other than travel.

Like buying booze. If you look under 25, your passport is one of three approved forms of ID for purchasing alcohol or getting into licensed premises (the others are the New Zealand driver's licence, and a HNZ 18+ card).

Or you can go on a shopping spree. In select malls and department stores overseas, you simply need to present your passport to get tax-free goods and other tourist discounts.

What are your top passport tips? Share them in the comments.

 - Stuff


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