How to apply for an Australian passport in the USA

Map of Australia

We’ve talked about getting your children Australian Citizenship by descent and now it’s time to get into the mechanics of how to apply for an Australian passport in the USA.

But first, a little cautionary tale from an Aussie expat who married an American woman and raised a family here. They got a bit of a shock when they visited Australia for the first time with their newborn son.

PASSPORTS FOR DUAL CITIZEN KIDS

When Aussie Edward Fox and his American wife Alice had their first child in 1992, an Australian passport was at the front of their minds.

Since Edward and Alice were planning a trip to Australia from Wichita, Kansas later that year, they got straight into making little Jason an Aussie citizen and getting him a passport.

“Alice called the Australian Consulate in Chicago and and they said the easiest way to do it is to apply for Australian citizenship by descent and then fill out some forms for a passport,” Edward said.

“I don’t know why but before we left for Australia I decided to make photocopies of our passports, our marriage certificate and some other identification. Back then you couldn’t just pull up copies on the internet.”

Maybe it was intuition or just plain good luck because those photocopies were the only reason the trio were allowed back into the US after their Australian jaunt.

“A month later we get back to the airport in Australia and they ask for our passports so we hand them over. Then they ask for Jason’s American passport,” he said.

“That’s when it dawned on us that we hadn’t thought to get him an American passport or a visa.”

apply for an Australian passport from the USA
The Fox family today (from left) Jason, Edward, Archi (Afghan refugee), Alice, Ashlyn and Brandon

The couple were devastated – they didn’t have the money pay for a later flight back, but when Edward produced his photocopied documents there was a sliver of hope.

“The attendant said she wasn’t sure if she could help us because everyone in the US was asleep at the time, but the Hawaii office was opening in an hour so she’d see if the copies would be enough to allow him on the plane,” he said.

“So we’re chewing our fingernails sitting on the bench waiting to see if our newborn baby will be allowed back to the country he was born in.”

Luckily, the documents were accepted and they were allowed to  board the plane. There was still the hurdle of US Customs to jump though.

“We get to Customs in LA and the officer asks to see my passport and Alice’s but doesn’t say anything about the baby.”

“It’s not like we were hiding him, Alice was carrying him and it was all fine.”

Suffice to say, the couple learned that lesson well and when their second and third children were born in 1995 and 1998 respectively, they double and triple checked both their Australian and US passports before leaving the country.

APPLY FOR AN AUSTRALIAN PASSPORT IN THE USA

Now that we’ve put the fear of baby-brain and US Customs into you, let’s talk about applying for an Australian passport in the USA.

apply for an australian passport in washington dc
You may have to travel to Washington DC to apply for your Australian passport. Obviously the Embassy is not pictured.

The most important thing to note is that you must lodge all passport applications in person. That means visiting the Australian Embassy in Washington DC or any of the Consulates throughout the US. There are no exceptions to this rule, so think carefully if you live far away from a Consulate or Embassy. This rule came in on July 1, 2015.

For child applications, one parent must lodge the application in person. The parent does not need to be an Australian citizen. Children aged 16 and 17-years-old must also attend the interview with a parent.

You can find the Australian Embassy and Consulates in the US here:

  • Washington Embassy: 1601 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington DC
    Phone: (202) 797 3000
    Email: washington.passports@dfat.gov.au
    Passport Hours: Monday to Friday, 9am – 12pm and 2pm – 4pm. No appointments taken.
  • New York Consulate: 150 East 42nd Street (34th Floor), New York, NY
    Phone: (212) 351 6500
    Passport Hours: By appointment only. Book here.
  • Los Angeles Consulate: 2029 Century Park East, Suite 3150, Los Angeles, CA
    Phone: (310) 229 2300
    Email: losa.passports@dfat.gov.au
    Passport Hours: By appointment only. Book here.
  • Chicago Consulate: 123 North Wacker Drive, Suite 1330, Chicago, IL
    Phone: (312) 419-1480
    Email: ccgo.passports@dfat.gov.au
    Passport Hours: By appointment only. Book here.
  • Houston Consulate: 3009 Post Oak Boulevard, Suite 1310, Houston, TX
    Phone: (832) 962 8420
    Passport Hours: By appointment only. Book here.
  • San Francisco Consulate: 575 Market Street, Suite 1800, San Francisco, CA
    Phone: (415) 644 3620
    Email: sanfrancisco@austrade.gov.au
    Passport Hours: Monday to Friday, 9am-1pm. No appointments taken.

Which Australian Passport Application Form do I Need?

There are two different application forms and you’ll be directed to download the correct one for your situation, after answering a few questions on the application page.

If this is your first time applying for an Australian passport or your situation fits one of the criteria below, you’ll need to fill out the Application for an Australian Passport Overseas (PC8) regardless of whether the applicant is an adult or a child.

  • applying for a first ever Australian passport
  • applying for a child passport (under 18 years of age)
  • applying for a first adult passport and your child passport was issued to you at 15 years or younger
  • replacing a lost or stolen passport
  • changing your name or personal details on the passport
  • applying for your first passport after resumption of citizenship
  • applying to replace a limited validity passport, emergency passport, or other temporary travel document
  • your passport has been expired for more than three years
  • you cannot answer the security questions for the renewal form

If you don’t fit the above criteria, you’ll need to fill out an Australian Passport Renewal Application (PC7). Please note that these are for adult passport renewals only and you must fit ALL of the below criteria:

  • you are an adult (18 years or older)
  • your most recent passport was issued when you were 16 years or older
  • you are not changing any of your personal details on the passport
  • your most recent passport is/was valid for over 2 years at the time of issue
  • your most recent passport has not been reported lost/stolen
  • your most recent passport has not been expired for more than three years (or is still current)
  • you are successfully able to answer the security questions on the website

Original Documents You’ll Need to Apply for an Australian Passport

Before you begin to apply for an Australian passport in the US, make sure you have the original version of each of the following documents and that you take them with you for your visa interview. No copies are accepted, even if they have been notarised by a Justice of the Peace.

These differ for the adult and child versions of the PC8 form.

DOCUMENTS FOR CHILDREN (17 & UNDER)

Ensure you provide both the original document and any translations (find approved translators here) of languages other than English. Make sure that the guarantor who fills out section 11 of the PC8 form uses the Australian date format (DD-MM-YYYY) when signing it.

family with passports
If your child is under 16, they don’t need to be present at the passport interview.

If you, your child or the guarantor (see more on guarantors below) makes a mistake on the form, don’t use liquid paper (white out). Start again with a fresh page.

For the child:

  1. A printed and completed Application for an Australian Passport Overseas (PC8) form. This can be printed on US letter-sized paper or A4 paper, as long as no part of the form is cut off. Make sure everything is signed within the boxes provided.
  2. The child’s most recent Australian passport (if applicable).
  3. The child’s birth certificate.
  4. Proof of their Australian Citizenship (an Australian birth or citizenship certificate). See Australian citizenship for babies born overseas for more details.
  5. You only require the ONE of the following documents if your child was born in Australia:
    + Your child’s previous Australian passport.
    + One parent’s Australian birth certificate.
    + One parent’s Australian citizenship certificate (showing they were a citizen before the child was born).
    + One parents Australian passport that was valid on your child’s birth date.
    + The child’s Australian citizenship certificate.
  6. If the child’s name has changed or is changing, provide an approved name change document.
  7. Any court orders issued in relation to the child.
  8. If the child was adopted, born through a surrogate, has only one parent listed on their birth certificate or you are unable to obtain consent from all parents, you may be required to provide supplementary information.
  9. Two passport photos less than six-months-old (see criteria here). One must be signed by a guarantor.

For the parent:

  1. Valid government-issued photo ID of the lodging parent.
  2. Proof of US address for the lodging parent. Choose one of the following:
    + Current driver’s license
    + Motor vehicle registration or insurance (no older than 12 months)
    + Property rates letter (no older than 12 months)
    + Property lease agreement
    + Utility bill (no older than 12 months)
    + Bank or credit card statement (no older than 12 months)
  3. Proof of name change of the parent if their name differs from the one on the child’s birth certificate. It’s usual for US birth certificates to list a mother’s maiden name only. For example:
    + Marriage certificate
    + Divorce decree
    + Court order
  4. To replace a lost or stolen passport, you will need an Application for an Australian Travel Document (B11).
  5. Visa or MasterCard for fee payment (more on that later).

DOCUMENTS FOR ADULTS (18 & OVER)

Ensure you provide both the original document and any translations (find approved translators here) of languages other than English. Make sure that the guarantor who fills out section 11 of the PC8 form uses the Australian date format (DD-MM-YYYY) when signing it.

If you or the guarantor (see more on guarantors below) makes a mistake on the form, don’t use liquid paper (white out). Start again with a fresh page.

  1. A printed and completed Application for an Australian Passport Overseas (PC8) form. This can be printed on US letter-sized paper or A4 paper, as long as none of the form is cut off. Make sure everything is signed within the boxes provided.
  2. Your most recent Australian passport (if applicable).
  3. Proof of Australian citizenship (Australian birth or citizenship certificate).
  4. If you were born in Australia after 20 August 1986, you need ONE of the documents below:
    + Your previous Australian passport issued on or after 1/1/2000
    + One parent’s Australian birth certificate
    + One parent’s Australian citizenship certificate, showing they were a citizen before your birth
    + One parent’s Australian passport (issued after 20/8/86) that was valid at the time of your birth
    + Your own Australian citizenship certificate
  5. Proof of your place of birth (birth certificate, Australian citizenship certificate or an Aussie or foreign passport)
  6. Proof of your gender (birth certificate or a passport)
  7. If you were born overseas and your document proving your place of birth/gender is in a different
  8. Those born overseas who’s name is different on their birth and citizenship certificates need proof of that change (marriage certificate, court order, divorce decree).
  9. Approved ID Combination, including valid government-issued photo ID.
  10. Proof of your US address. Choose from:
    + Driver’s licence
    + Motor vehicle registration or insurance (no more than 12 months old)
    + Property rates notes (no more than 12 months old)
    + Property lease agreement
    + Utility bill (no more than 12 months old)
    + Bank or credit card statement (no more than 12 months old)
  11. If you are changing your name, you will need an approved name change document.
  12. Two passport photos less than six-months-old (see here for compliancy rules). One of the photos must be signed by a guarantor.
  13. To replace a lost or stolen passport, you will need an Application for an Australian Travel Document (B11).
  14. Visa or MasterCard for fee payment (more on that later).

Application Timeline (Without Actual Times)

Once your application is lodged and approved, it should take no more than three weeks to receive your shiny, new Australian passport in the mail. If you haven’t received it in this timeframe, please call the Consulate or Embassy where you lodged the application.

Apply for an Australian passport in the USA

How Much Will it Cost?

All fees are up-to-date as of April 4, 2018, if you would like to double-check the fee structure please visit the Passport Application Fee page.  All fees are listed in US dollars. You must pay all applicable fees at the time of your interview by Visa and MasterCard. In San Francisco you may also use American Express and Discover cards. While in Honolulu, Houston and Washington, Discover cards are accepted.  Cash and cheques are not accepted.

  • Adult passport for 10 years: $303 ($221 for passport, $82 overseas processing surcharge).
  • Child passport (aged 16-17) 10 years: $262 ($221 for passport, $41 overseas processing surcharge).
  • Child passport (aged 0-15) 5 years: $152 ($111 for passport, $41 overseas processing surcharge).
  • Senior passport (aged 75+): $193 ($111 for passport, $82 overseas processing surcharge).

On top of the above fees come the courier costs of having your new passport shipped to you. If you live close to the office you applied at, you have the option to collect your passport free of charge. However, if it needs to be sent by FedEx, there is an additional $15 fee for postage. Otherwise pre-pay a letter sized envelope with a courier company of your choice and provide that. Please note that the option you choose must include signature on delivery.

Your Guarantor

Some parts of your application, including your passport photo, must be filled out or signed by a guarantor. But who qualifies as a guarantor in this case? It does not need to be an Australian citizen, although it can be. If you can’t find a current Australian passport holder to be your guarantor, just use a non-Australian who is employed in one of these professions. It can be your dentist, baliff (if you have one), GP, registered chiropractor etc. The only stipulations on the guarantor are that they are not related to you by birth or marriage, not in a de facto relationship with you, does not live at your address, is 18-years-old or older, has known you for at least a year, and is able to discuss your application during business hours.

If you haven’t been in the US long enough for a guarantor to have known you for at least 12 months, you’ll need to send the guarantor portion of the forms and a passport photo to a previous country of residence for someone to fill out. Please note these must be originals, the guarantor cannot email or fax copies of the documentation.

How to Apply for an Australian Passport in the USA

And that’s the gist of the whole process. Not so difficult form-wise but a little annoying if you’re not in a city with a Consulate or Embassy. Now it’s your turn to share your tips and experiences. Have you applied for a new Australian passport while living in the USA? What was the process like? Got any tips for others about to embark on the same journey?

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