Cancelling Travel Documents
Authorised to cancel a travel document
An Australian passport or travel document may be cancelled on the order of the Minister for Foreign Affairs or his delegate for reasons set out in the Australian Passports Act 2005, Section 22.
The ‘Australian Passports Act 2005 – Authorisations and Delegations’ (see Annex 3) lists those officers who the Minister for Foreign Affairs has authorised to cancel passports and travel documents.
Reason to cancel a travel document
The Australian Passports Act, Section 22 and the Australian Passports Determination Part 5 and Part 6 authorises the Minister to cancel an Australian travel document in the following circumstances:
- If the document is still valid at the time when a person applies for, or is issued with, another Australian travel document, see also ‘ Not cancelling a passport whilst application being processed ’;
- The document has been lost or stolen including where a travel document has been handed in and the holder has not responded to correspondence within 60 days, see ‘ Responding to a reported lost/stolen ’ and ‘ Reported lost/stolen document by person other than holder ’;
- The person dies;
- Where the person has lost Australian citizenship and this has been confirmed by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC);
- A competent authority makes a refusal/cancellation request in relation to the person, see ‘ Refusal/Cancellation Requests by Competent Authorities ’;
- In accordance with section 22(2)(e) or (f) of the Act; where the Minister becomes aware of a circumstance that would have required or permitted the Minister to refuse to issue an Australian passport or travel-related document to the person, for example:
- The document is sufficiently damaged so as to render it unusable for its intended purpose (i.e. international travel). This includes where the document has been tampered with. See ‘ Serious damage to travel document ’;
- Before repatriation to Australia at government expense (a restricted validity travel document is normally issued for a one-way journey in these cases);
- The document is being held by a person other than the rightful holder, see ‘ Passport held by a person or company not entitled to the passport ’.
Request to cancel a child’s travel document
A request to cancel a child’s travel document will be considered where:
- An Australian court order has been issued preventing the child from travelling internationally (Australian Passports Act 2005, Section 12(1) (b) (i) refers).
- The requestor can provide evidence that the Minister was not aware of a circumstance that would have prevented the issue of a travel document when the decision to issue was made (Australian Passports Act 2005, Section 22(2) (e) refers).
All such cases should be referred to the Approved Senior Officer in Canberra, London or Washington
Physically cancelling a travel document
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.
Travel documents cannot be reinstated
There is no scope under the Australian Passports Act 2005 to ‘un-cancel’ a travel document that has had its status changed to void or ‘K’ for cancelled. There are no exceptions to this policy. Australian and overseas border control authorities are regularly advised of lost/stolen and cancelled travel documents. Any attempt to use such a document may result in difficulties for the traveller and is a serious breach of the Act.
Where a travel document has been cancelled electronically by an operator’s mistake but the travel document has not been physically cancelled (e.g. the wrong document number was entered) details must be provided to Canberra for consideration of reverting the status or issuing a replacement document.