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.
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 – https://online.passports.gov.au – 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.
‘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 .
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