12 Feb 2014

Move to 10-year passport, MPs told

9:31 pm on 12 February 2014

New Zealanders are being charged too much for passports and having five-year passports is a revenue gathering exercise, MPs have been told.

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The Government Administration Select Committee is considering a petition pushing for a return to 10-year passport validity.

Kyle Lockwood said he put forward the petition because many people lived overseas and had to pay exorbitant fees to transfer visas in one passport to a new one every five years.

"Most OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) nations throughout the world issue 10-year passports," he said.

"Also, the Department of Internal Affairs has been collecting tens of millions of dollars in surplus. It really is a tax, effectively, and I think that we should be moving towards 10-year passports just like our OECD partners."

But the Department of Internal Affairs said five-year passports remained the best option for New Zealanders. Civil Society and Information Policy director Raj Krishnan told MPs security is a big factor.

"A five-year period reduces the number of passports with outdated security features in use, allows for periodic updating of security features and ensures that our passport remains difficult to counterfeit and forge," Mr Krishnan said.

The committee will consider the petition and make a recommendation to Parliament.

The Labour Party says it would return to 10-year passports if it is elected to Government later this year. Internal Affairs spokesperson Trevor Mallard said passports are now secure enough to be valid for longer for five years.