Lost/Stolen Travel Documents
Legal requirement to report lost/stolen
The Australian Passports Act 2005, Section 41, provides penalties where a person fails to report the loss or theft of their travel document as soon as practicable and Section 22 provides for the cancellation of a travel document when the document has been lost or stolen.
Lost or stolen travel documents are attractive to people other than the rightful holder as it may give them an opportunity to travel illegally, assume another identity or carry out criminal activity in another name.
A key policy objective is to encourage the reporting and return of lost or stolen travel documents and to cancel them physically and electronically as soon as possible. The Australian Government has a Memorandum of Understanding with some countries and Interpol which allows the sharing of information on lost and stolen travel documents. Australian travel documents that have been reported as lost or stolen are regularly reported to Interpol and appropriate border control authorities.
How a client reports a lost/stolen
A person can report the loss or theft by:
- The passport website www.passports.gov.au This includes a facility for the applicant to find out how many travel documents they reported lost or stolen, and when they did so, during the previous 5 years;
- Completing a PC1, PC4, PC5 or PC8 application form including section 10 if replacing the travel document;
- Completing a PC2 form (available from Passport Offices in Australia or overseas or online) if not replacing the travel document;
- An e-mail to a Passport Office or an overseas post;
- Telephone to the Australian Passport Information Service (APIS) or an Australian diplomatic or consular mission;
- Letter or facsimile to a Passport Office or an overseas post;
- The Consular Emergency Centre (CEC); or
- Secure Sentinel Service (if a member).
Responding to a reported lost/stolen
When first notified of the loss/theft of a travel document, Passport Offices/overseas missions must immediately verify the holder’s identity (see below) and record the travel document as lost or stolen in the Passport Issuing and Control System and before processing an application to replace the lost/stolen travel document.
Advice that must be given to the client: lost/stolen
If identity is confirmed the applicant should be asked to provide their current residential address and whether this is the usual mail address for future correspondence.
Note: See ‘Letter to client confirming cancellation: lost/stolen’ (below). It is important to obtain a current address as Letter 1 must be sent out to the client once cancellation of the travel document has occurred.
The person reporting the lost/stolen travel document must be advised that:
- The travel document will be cancelled immediately and will not be valid for further travel;
- Should the person attempt to travel on the document reported as lost/stolen they would be in breach of the Australian Passports Act 2005 for which penalties apply under Section 32 and their travel document would be confiscated by border control authorities and a new travel document would need to be obtained;
- Passports that have been reported as lost or stolen cannot be reverted to Normal (N) status regardless of whether the document is located after it has been reported as lost or stolen.
Penalties apply under the Australian Passports Act 2005 and the Criminal Code for making a false statement or report about a lost or stolen travel document.
Letter to client confirming cancellation: lost/stolen
Once a passport has been cancelled, Letter 1 must be completed and sent out to the client to confirm cancellation, provide details on how they can re-apply for a new passport and to contact the Australian Passport Information Service (APIS), the Consular Emergency Centre (CEC) or the nearest Australian diplomatic or consular mission overseas if the passport is subsequently found.
Other forms as required (e.g. application form) should accompany Letter 1.
Police reports required: lost/stolen
A person who has reported their travel document lost or stolen will need to obtain a police report if they wish to claim a refund of the additional lost/stolen fee to demonstrate that the circumstances of the loss or theft fall within the refund policy guidelines. See ‘ Lost/stolen fee refund ’.
Passport held by a person or company not entitled to the passport
Responsibility of rightful passport holder: passport held by improper party
A person who reports their current passport or travel document as being in the hands of a spouse, or other person who has no right to hold or replace it, is to be advised to take all steps to recover the document including:
- Direct written or verbal contact with the person holding the document; and/or
- Obtain private legal assistance.
Note: The rightful holder should document all attempts to retrieve the document.
If the rightful holder claims to have done all they can to recover the travel document without success, they must be directed to their nearest Australian Passport Office or overseas diplomatic or consular mission to provide a full statement (B11) of the circumstances (including efforts to recover the document and contact details for the alleged holder).
In most cases a parent has the right to hold the passport or travel document of a child only if that parent has parental responsibility for the child. A dispute concerning who holds a child’s passport or travel document, between persons with parental responsibility for the child, must be settled privately through legal channels.
Responsibility of Passport Office: passport held by improper party
Upon receipt of the statement of circumstances the interviewing officer must refer the statement to the appropriate Authorised Officer where the statement will be assessed and an appropriate course of action determined.
Travel document held by overseas law enforcement authority or court
When a travel document is held by an overseas law enforcement authority or court the circumstances must be reported to the Competent Authority and Approved Senior Officer Unit (CAU) of the Passport Policy and Operations Section (POS). The CAU will determine the appropriate measures to mitigate the risk of a valid Australian travel document being misused or replaced.
Known lost/stolen not reported
Under the Australian Passports Act 2005, Section 22, when the Passport Office/overseas post becomes aware that an Australian travel document holder has not reported the loss/theft (for whatever reason), the travel document will be immediately recorded as lost/stolen and cancelled.
A letter must be sent to the travel document holder (to their last known/recorded address) advising them that their travel document has been cancelled and is no longer valid for travel purposes.
Travel document temporarily unavailable
Note: This policy does not apply to unavailable documents as a result of an overseas crisis or a declared natural disaster in Australia. There are separate arrangements in place for these events.
Where a client applies for a travel document to replace one that is temporarily unavailable (the document is not lost or stolen), and travel is urgently required, provided the interviewing officer is satisfied as to the genuineness of the circumstances, a replacement travel document (ordinary, LVP or emergency) may be issued.
The unavailable travel document is to be voided upon issue of the replacement passport unless special approval is give by the delegate for the applicant to be issued a concurrent passport, see ‘ Concurrent Passports ’.
Subsequent use of a passport reported lost/stolen
The Australian Passports Act 2005, Section 32, states that a person commits an offence if the person uses an Australian travel document in connection with travel or identification and the document has been cancelled. All travel documents reported as lost or stolen are immediately cancelled under the Australian Passports Act, Section 22. If a reported lost/stolen travel document is used by the holder to enter or depart Australia, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) are empowered under the Australian Passports Act 2005, Section 24, to demand the surrender and impound the travel document. The document is to be returned to the nearest Passport Office for cancellation. If DIAC reports the case to the Consular Emergency Centre (CEC) (or Passport Office) without impounding the document, a letter demanding return of the passport is to be sent to the holder by the Australian Passport Office (APO). When the document is returned by DIAC or the holder, it is to be cancelled.
If a passport that has been reported as lost is used overseas, foreign border control authorities may confiscate the document and/or detain the document holder. Where a document is confiscated by foreign border officials the post must request the return of the document for cancellation or return to Canberra.
Offices receiving requests for the reinstatement of a cancelled/voided passport must advise the client that this is not possible under any circumstances.
Full validity passport
A lost/stolen passport can be replaced by a full validity passport only in the following circumstances:
- There is no doubt that the original passport has genuinely been lost or stolen and all reasonable attempts have been taken to find it;
- The loss or theft has been reported on a PC1, PC4 or PC8 application form (section 10), or by telephone etc;
- The applicant fulfils all the requirements for the issue of a passport (including parental consent for a child application or referral to the Approved Senior Officer (ASO));
- No more than 2 travel documents have been reported lost or stolen in the 5 year period up to the date the application was lodged (see ‘ Multiple loss/stolen travel document ’); and
- The application fee and additional lost and stolen fee has been paid.
See also ‘ Lost/stolen child passports whilst overseas ’.
Emergency or Limited Validity Passport
A lost/stolen passport may be replaced by an Emergency Passport (overseas posts) or Limited Validity Passport (Australia, London and Washington) under specified circumstances.
Multiple loss/stolen travel document
Under the Australian Passports Act 2005, Section 15, the delegate may refuse to issue a passport to a person if, in the five years before the passport application under consideration is made, two or more Australian passports issued to the person have been lost or stolen.
Where an applicant has multiple losses and/or thefts (two or more travel documents reported lost/stolen in the five year period up to the date of the application) the matter must be thoroughly investigated. The applicant must be interviewed to clarify the circumstances of the repeated loss/thefts and to ensure they are genuine. The applicant should be advised that the matter is serious and there will be a delay in the issue of a replacement travel document.
In cases where fraud or breaches of the Act are involved the delegate may decide to issue only a limited validity Document of Identity (DOI).
The Australian Passports Determination, Section 5.1, allows for a maximum validity of five years for a passport issued to a person who has lost and/or had stolen three or more travel documents in the last five years before the date of application for the passport. Applications that come under this Section must be referred to the appropriate delegate in Australia, London or Washington for a decision regarding the type of travel document which can be issued.
Loss of passport before delivery to client
In Australia, travel documents are despatched by registered mail. Overseas, travel documents should be despatched locally by the safest means possible that provides the security equivalent to registered mail in Australia. If, however, a passport is lost between the mission or Passport Office and the applicant’s address, a full investigation is to be immediately carried out to trace the missing document.
Any missing travel document should immediately be recorded as undelivered.
Only after all efforts to locate the missing passport have failed should the applicant be advised that they must apply for a replacement passport within 60 days of the date of despatch, if they wish to receive a replacement gratis (free of charge). The applicant is not required to submit a PC2 form to report the loss.
Instruct the client to submit a Statutory Declaration (or complete a Form B-11) explaining the circumstances and provide a copy of their original passport receipt when applying for the replacement passport. The client should confirm in the declaration that they have checked with their local post office to confirm that they are not holding the document.
The Passport Office is to write to the client within one month asking if the undelivered travel document has been received and if so request it be returned to the Passport Office for destruction.
If the travel document is subsequently delivered to the passport holder within 10 working days of the document being reported as undelivered, the document can be changed to normal status . If it is after this time or a replacement document is issued, then the undelivered document must be cancelled and destroyed.
If the travel document is returned to the Passport Office or overseas mission by the holder, they cannot apply for a refund for returning a found passport.
Undelivered passports are not included in the count of lost or stolen passports for the purposes of additional fees.
Replacing a passport that has never been received
Passport not received within 60 days: lost/stolen
When a travel document is reported as lost or missing in the mail or in transit to an overseas post by the courier service within 60 days of the date of despatch, a replacement document may then be issued on receipt of a Statutory Declaration (or Form B-11) from the client but only when a thorough investigation by the Passport Office or overseas post to attempt to locate the missing document has been unsuccessful and there is no evidence that the applicant in any way contributed to the loss. No fee from the client applies.
A gratis replacement for a passport lost during delivery can be applied for at any stage during the 60 day period providing a reasonable period has been allowed for delivery of the original document and provided all has been done to trace the missing document. When assessing a reasonable period for delivery consideration should be given to the usual timeliness of the delivery system utilised. The applicant does not need to submit a new application form, photos etc.
If an applicant has contributed to the loss of the travel document (i.e. put his/her wrong delivery address on the application form) then the cost of any replacement document is a charge to the applicant.
Passport not received after 60 days: lost/stolen
If an applicant waits longer than 60 days before notifying the Passport Office that they have not received their passport, they must apply for a new passport on a new application form, providing the required photos etc. The normal fee applies.
Reported lost/stolen document by holder
If a reported lost or stolen passport is subsequently found by the holder, the holder must return it to the nearest Passport Office or overseas diplomatic or consular mission for physical cancellation.
A passport which has previously been reported as lost or stolen is a cancelled and invalid travel document. It cannot be reinstated for further use under any circumstances regardless of any important visas the document may contain and under the Australian Passport Act 2005, Section 32, it is a serious breach of the Act for a person to use an invalid passport for travel (or a Passport Officer to give approval for invalid documents to be used for travel).
Overseas border control authorities and Interpol are regularly advised of lost/stolen travel documents and are likely to question or detain people using such documents.
See also ‘ Lost/stolen fee refund ’.
Reported lost/stolen document by person other than holder
If a person finds someone else’s travel document, they are required by the Australian Passports Act 2005, Section 24 and 32, to return the travel document to the nearest Passport Office or overseas post otherwise it could be considered to be an offence against the Act.
Additional fees for passport replacement of lost/stolen
Applications to replace lost or stolen travel documents are subject to the following fees in addition to the normal application fee (and where appropriate the priority processing fee):
- 1 travel document within five years from date of lodgement;
- 2 travel documents within five years from date of lodgement – equal to the cost of an ordinary adult passport; or
- 3 or more travel documents within five years from date of lodgement – double the cost of an ordinary adult passport. The replacement travel document is to be limited in validity to five years. The case is to be referred to the appropriate delegate for consideration of the issue of a further travel document under section 15 of the Act.
Note: If the loss or theft is attributed to illegal or fraudulent activities the delegate may consider restricting the validity of any replacement travel document or issue only a limited validity Document of Identity (DOI).
There are no exceptions to the requirement to pay the additional fee.
Exclusions: additional fees for lost/stolen
Travel documents recorded as lost but replaced by a gratis document issued under a specific ministerial approval (e.g. natural disasters) are to be excluded from these calculations.
Passports that are lost during delivery are also excluded.
Calculation period: additional fees for lost/stolen
The additional fee policy applies to all applications lodged on or after 1 July 2005. The five year period for assessing the number of lost or stolen travel documents for an applicant is retrospective – i.e. for an application lodged on 26 August 2005 all lost or stolen travel documents reported on and between 27 August 2000 and 26 August 2005 will be considered when determining any additional fee that must be paid.
Emergency passport replacement: lost/stolen fee
If an Emergency passport that is to be replaced with a full validity document cannot be produced at interview it is considered lost/stolen and the applicant must complete section 10 of the application form and pay the lost/stolen fee, see ‘ Replacing an Emergency passport ’.
Unrecognised passport due to serious damage
Where an unexpired seriously damaged Australian travel document is unrecognisable (i.e. it cannot be clearly identified as belonging to the applicant because both the bio page and book number are indecipherable), then this constitutes a lost/stolen travel document for the purposes of recording in PICS and collecting the additional lost and stolen fee.
See also ‘ Damaged Travel Documents ’.