Australians looking forward to an overseas holiday may be in for a rude shock as massive backlogs caused by Covid-19 could see travellers facing lengthy delays to get on a plane.
The travel bans put in place in 2020 have resulted in scores of Australians forgetting to renew or apply for international passports causing concerns of massive delays.
According to a DFAT analysis published by The Australian approximately 1.3 million people have put off renewing their passport and 600,000 have delayed getting their first passport due to border closures.
A DFAT Spokesperson told The Australian anyone hoping to travel should get in as soon as possible to avoid lengthy wait times.
“Recent experience in the US and the UK has shown that there was a significant increase in applications ahead of international travel restrictions being lifted in these countries, resulting in long wait times for passports,” the spokesperson said.
“While the department is doing everything it possibly can to prepare for a similar eventuality, longer than usual processing times cannot be ruled out.”
News of the expected surge comes as Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced Sunday international borders could re-open for vaccinated travellers in New South Wales as early as November 1.
Morrison told News.com.au he was discussing plans to accelerate international travel with the NSW Premier.
“I know the NSW Government is looking at ways to fast track home quarantine in November and if that happens we will be able to move to facilitate the opening up of the international border into NSW sooner,” he said.
“The government’s intention is that once changes are made in November, the current overseas travel restrictions related to Covid-19 will be removed and Australians will be able to travel subject to any other travel advice and limits, as long as they are fully vaccinated and those countries’ border settings allow,” he said.
“These changes mean there will be no travel restrictions if you are a vaccinated Australian entering or leaving our shores. We will also work towards completely quarantine-free travel for certain countries, such as New Zealand, when it is safe to do so.”