A travel document that is to be physically cancelled should be examined thoroughly to ensure that it has not been altered in any way before cancellation.
Where there is suspicion that a travel document has been altered or is counterfeit the document must not be returned to the holder or physically cancelled. Instead, the matter must be referred to the Passport Fraud Section and is to be handled in accordance with their instructions.
When travel documents are cancelled under the Australian Passports Act 2005 (Section 22 refers), the document must be defaced to ensure it can't be used again as a primary identity document for travel purposes. This is done by cutting off and disposing of:
- the machine-readable zone (from the bottom of the inside bio-data page); and
- the part of the front cover corresponding to the MRZ.
Returning cancelled passport to holder
On request, a physically cancelled passport may be returned to the holder, unless it is suspected that it has been obtained fraudulently, in which case it is to be forwarded to Passport Fraud Section.
The same applies to an Emergency passport that is cancelled, see ‘ Replacing an Emergency passport ’.
Valid visas in cancelled passport
If the passport has valid visas that the client wishes to continue to use, the client should be advised to contact the appropriate foreign embassy/consulate to ensure the visas in a cancelled passport will continue to be honoured if presented with a newly issued passport.
Regardless of any valid visas, the MRZ and the corresponding part of the front cover must still be cut off to show that the travel document has been cancelled.
Expired travel documents: cancelling
Whenever staff are presented with expired travel documents that have not been physically cancelled, they must also cut off the MRZ and the corresponding part of the front cover.
It is not an option to leave a replaced or expired passport physically un-cancelled under any circumstances.
Deceased person’s travel document: cancelling
Staff should be sensitive to the feelings of the next of kin when cancelling the passports of deceased Australians, particularly to ensure that the photo is not cut.
It is not an option, however, to leave a deceased person’s travel document un-cancelled under any circumstances - the MRZ and the corresponding part of the front cover must be cut off.