Damaged Travel Documents
Damaged travel documents: general
Under the Australian Passports Determination, Section 5.2 a passport ceases to be valid if the passport is damaged and no longer usable as evidence of the identity and citizenship of its holder or to facilitate international travel. The Determination describes the circumstances in which a passport may be considered to be damaged and therefore invalid. See ‘ Serious damage to travel document ’. Delegated officers under the Australian Passports Act, Section 24, employed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Department of Immigration and Citizenship and Customs are authorised to make decisions as to whether a passport is seriously damaged and demand up the passport for cancellation and destruction. See ‘ Demanding the surrender of travel documents (impounds) ’.
A seriously damaged Australian travel document cannot be used as proof of citizenship or identity and therefore cannot be used to renew a passport (using a PC7 form). A lost/stolen fee may be charged for an unexpired seriously damaged Australian travel document that cannot clearly be identified as belonging to the applicant, see ‘ Unrecognised passport due to serious damage ’.
Minimal damage to travel document
Minor damage associated with normal wear and tear is not generally sufficient to render a travel document invalid. Examples include:
- staples or staple holes on visa pages,
- minor mould/mildew,
- alterations to the emergency contact details,
- minor water damage where entry/exit stamps are still readable,
- worn edges of pages.
Serious damage to travel document
The Australian Passports Determination 2005, Section 5.2 provides for when a travel document may be declared invalid if it is seriously damaged so that it is unusable for its intended purpose (i.e. international travel or identity purposes) and the holder is likely to experience problems at border points because of the condition of the document.
One or more of the following features may render a travel document invalid:
- Evidence that the bio-data page has been altered in any way (e.g. changes to the printed data or a substituted image), or any indication that an attempt has been made to deliberately alter any part of the bio-data page;
- The bio-data page has been damaged by water, solvents or any other substance to the extent that any part of the data and/or images are unreadable or are so degraded as to be unreliable;
- The machine-readable zone is faulty/damaged so as to prevent it being read reliably;
- The laminate on the bio-data page is damaged in any way, dislodged (even partially) or shows any evidence of tampering;
- Any pages are missing or damaged to the extent that they cannot be read reliably;
- Evidence of tampering with any part of the binding or structure (e.g. removal or substitution of pages, physical attack on the biometric chip insert, attempts to alter the laser identity number), including attempted repair of any such damage;
- Other parts of the passport have been substantially damaged by water, solvents or any other substance or damaged by any other method (i.e. pages cut or torn) to the extent that the binding or overall integrity of the document is compromised, even when the bio-data page may still be reliable;
- Where a travel document is unrecognisable as an Australian travel document i.e. it cannot be clearly identified as belonging to the applicant because both the bio-page and book number are indecipherable; and
- Any other circumstance that the delegate considers makes the travel document invalid for the purposes for which it was issued.
Electronic chip failure
In the event of a chip being reported as having malfunctioned or failed, the client should be requested to present the passport to the nearest Australian Passport Office in Australia.