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DFAT and post office in cahoots on photos

New online Australian Passport application forms are being rolled out across Australia, with Northern Territory, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia already using the new paperless system and NSW, Queensland and the ACT moving over from November 20.

The Australia Post passports ‘landing page’ features its passport photos service prominently.

DFAT does not endorse ‘particular photo outlets or providers’ for passport photos. But the new online-only system creates a virtual ‘closed loop’ between the passports office and Australia Post. The DFAT online passports website – –  refers applicants to the Australia Post passports website pages for information about processing passport applications. The passports section of the Australia Post website promotes its passport photos service prominently, and makes no reference to any other outlets than post offices as being able to handle your passport photos. It features a passport photos locator which only includes post offices.

It’s unsurprising that Australia Post wouldn’t inform passport applicants that there are other passport photo suppliers, but the direct link from the DFAT passports website to the Australia Post website passport pages creates a virtual ‘closed loop’.


‘We’ll make sure they meet Australian Government requirements and International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) standards,’ Australia Post continues. ‘If you submit your photo to the relevant authority within the necessary timeframe, but for some reason your photos aren’t accepted, just bring them back to the same post office and we’ll replace them at no cost.’

Australia Post is charging $16.95 for a set of passport photos, or $19.95 for a printed set and an emailed digital copy.

Brands Australia: This will increase sales
John Rule
, managing director of Brands Australia, Australian distributor of ID Station passport systems, sees the new online-only system as an opportunity rather than a threat to photo retailers:

Dear Industry Colleagues,
The Changes to Australia Post are nothing more than to streamline the Passport Application process and to ensure Biometric ICAO Compliant Passport Photo’s are taken in all retail channels. If anything, it will ENHANCE the trade’s Passport Photo sales who are in a better position to deliver this objective!

At yesterday’s Biometric Institute Showcase meeting/Gov Conference in ACT – it was clearly stated that the best compliance passport Photos came from the trade outlets with Biometric Technology .

John Rule advises ID Station outlets to display POS to highlight availability of a ICAO-compliant passport photos service in-store. (Source, copyright: Brabnds Australia)

The Facts are – the applicant fills in the form online ( the idea of this is to reduce the mistakes made via hand written forms ) and DFAT will send the applicants a Barcode. It also states to the applicant, to take photos with them to the post office (this point alone) prior – which is what will drive passport photo sales in all channels.

Australia Post have been advertising Passport Photos on their website for about 15 years and this hasn’t precluded sales to other retail channels.

It’s also possible this is the precursor to Passport Applications going fully online in time and assuming so, this will dramatically enhance the demand in all channels, especially photo retail. Which occurred about 4 years ago in NZ. At the time, the NZ trade thought they would lose the business but in fact, the actual outcome drove an increase in passport photo sales.

Another opportunity is for the trade customers to place Biometric Passport POS (as do many of the ID Station outlets do now using our Biometric systems) prominently inside & outside the store. This IDs to the end customers the Photo Outlets ability to provide images that (USP) comply to ICAO Biometric Passport Photo Standards. This is crucial as public awareness grows. In short, this is good news and should see a position of strength to Biometric Passport Photo sites, especially once it goes on line via Biometric Technology.
– John Rule, Brands Australia




  1. Alex Noone Alex Noone November 15, 2017

    Not good news at all. Sadly we don’t have an industry association left to fight for us on this matter.
    That could be a loss of about 20% of our sales per year.

  2. Ian Cook Ian Cook November 16, 2017

    Well, if NZ is anything to go by, the Post Shop passport photo system hasn’t worked out too well in my town. I have a steady stream of dissatisfied customers who either didn’t like their photos, didn’t like the poor service (and rude staff) or the were recommended to us by the Post Office themselves because they couldn’t get the their system to take the photos properly (especially babies and very young children)

  3. Bruce Smart Bruce Smart November 16, 2017

    I knew this would happen!
    Passport photos are currently one of our most valuable services. Losing that business will be another nail in the coffin of genuine photo businesses. Like the previous correspondent, we too receive a lot of referrals from Australia Post, simply because we know what we’re doing, and can provide a professional service.
    The writing has been on the wall for quite some time, as A.P.’s photo equipment suppliers have been lobbying Government officials for a long time to get online digital passport photos introduced. Their main reason – it’s very lucrative for them. They even tried unsuccessfully to sell me the stuff several years ago.
    Because of this prediction, I made the decision several months ago to retire. I won’t be looking in the rear-view mirror, come Feb. 2018.

    • PG PG November 20, 2017

      Bruce our passport business back in the two cartons of Polaroid a month paid a large part of our rent back in the 90’s. Polaroid gave us TV’s, bath towels and a lot of other “free” stuff as well.

      In 2001 we went digital saving a bunch on film, no TV’s but higher profits. Since moving to the burbs, no more huge city rents, we don’t do much in the way of Oz passports but have seen big increases in other country visa and passport photos, that’s where the real money is. I’m not retiring anytime soon as the business continues to grow both online and in store with more opportunities than ever before!

  4. PG PG November 20, 2017

    I have looked everywhere online for specs, I’m guessing same sizing as for prints etc for head but what file size? We get a constant stream of NZ, US, India etc for digital passport & visa photos, these countries post their specs. Like NZ we see really poor quality passport photos from the PO. We don’t use an expensive turn key system and have tested Photoshop templates for most countries.

    I will call into our local PO and have a print & digital photo emailed to get the specs, pity that Keith hadn’t gone this path with his investigative journalism 🙁

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