Getting a passport for our darling baby Zoe was a big milestone for us. It is an important part of the paper trail that comes with a new child. Plus, it is another key thing crossed off our "unpausing our travels" to-do list.
We have applied for replacement adult passports a few times and a brand new passport once, from another country no less. Foolishly we thought get a child passport for a baby would be just as simple. Nope.
First, some terminology. A guarantor, in this context, is someone who vouches that the photos you are submiting are of the person whose name will be on the passport. For a newborn they should have known them since birth. They cannot be a relative.
In Australia, post offices typically accept passport applications. Not all post offices however so be sure to check whether your local post office has someone trained in the vagaries of issuing travel documents. Click here to find the post office nearest you that deals with passport applications
Here are the steps we went through.
1) Start the application online, receive an electronic document to print, complete and then hand into a post office. This involves finding a printer...
2) Realize that the person we usually have guarantor is probably unavailable due to having just had their own babies (twins!).
3) Find someone else who meets the criteria to guarantor and whose profession sounds suitably respectable.
4) Discover that the post office that has previously taken our adult passport photos doesn't take infant photos. They give us the address of a camera shop that has a special set up.
5) Go to the camera shop. Their "special set up" consists of a poster which they place face down on a bench to provide a white background. They then climb up on the bench and hold the passport photo camera up as high as they can to get a photo looking straight down at the baby. Very high tech.
6) Wait for the planets to align so we can meet up with our guarantor and they can sign what we need them to sign. Scheduling meet ups when everyone involved has a young child is quite a mission.
7) Bundle up all of the required paperwork and go to the post office to lodge it.
8) Discover that our application is invalid due to your guarantor claiming to have known the baby for two months when they won't have been alive for two calendar months for two more days. Get another form.
9) Quickly find a different guarantor for the sake of getting this done before Zoe is old enough to fill out the form herself. Redo the form.
10) Lodge the paperwork. Insist that they check it repeatedly.
11) Wait impatiently for the world's most adorable passport to arrive.
There are some important lessons to take away from this.
Leave yourself plenty of time to get your passport(s). Fortunately we were not in any huge rush so all of this messing around was spread over several days. If we had needed to get our application done in a hurry there probably would have been tears.
Be very careful with that "how long have you known them"? section of the form. With an adult you can be a bit approximate. With a child who you are meant to have known from birth there is less wiggle room. I'm not sure why they don't just have a "from birth" box for you to tick.
Finally, politely make sure that the person accepting your paperwork checks it thoroughly. It is better to find out that it is wrong in person when you hand it in Vs by mail or phone days or weeks later.
Congratulations Zoe, you are now in the system.