Australian 'frequent traveller' passports axed from December 1

Australian 'frequent traveller' passports axed from December 1

The government will phase out the 66-page Frequent Traveller passport from next month, despite its popularity with country-hopping business travellers.

The Frequent Traveller passport version has 66 usable pages for immigration stamps and visas, compared to 34 such pages on a Standard passport, and also costs $382 compared to $254 for its smaller sibling.

But as of December 1 2017, you'll have to settle for the skinnier version.

A spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade confirmed to Australian Business Traveller that "the Australian Passport Office will be phasing out the Frequent Traveller Passport."

DFAT has previously said that frequent flyers would to be able to purchase a new replacement passport – with the same number and expiry date as their original one – if those 34 pages pages fill up while the passport is still valid.

"This option will be accessed through a streamlined online application and will be cheaper than a new passport," the spokesman said.

"The cost per visa page for an ordinary passport plus a replacement passport will be comparable to that of a frequent traveller passport. The replacement passport option will be made available before Frequent Traveller passports are phased out."

However, if your original passport includes travel visas for selected countries you'll also need to pack that passport for each trip.

It's understood that demand for frequent traveller passports has been decreasing as many countries move away from physical visa labels and stamps, with the supersized passports said to represent less than 1 per cent of passports issued in recent years.

Also read: Tired of waiting for visa approvals? Here's how to get a second passport!

Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT

David Flynn
David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.
 

42 comments

  • fxdxdy

    fxdxdy

    13 Jul, 2016 03:07 pm

    I actually think that could be OK.
    I purchased a frequent traveller passport the last time I renewed because my previous one came 2 pages away from being full when it finally expired.
    However, since I've had my new one I've realised I've been getting fewer stamps than than I did before. I suppose that shows how things have changed over the past 12 years.
    At my current 'stamp & visa rate' I'll probably struggle to fill half of my new passport.
    That said, I know there are still plenty of folks who have to travel to places such as China a Vietnam and need a visa every time and they'll most likely still want to the frequent traveller passport. 

    No member give thanks

  • jorgb

    jorgb

    13 Jul, 2016 05:56 pm

    I never fill my frequent traveller passport completely but I think that's the point. If I were using a regular passport, I would easily be onto my second by now. Getting a new passport every time it's full is not only costly but inconvient especially those who frequent Asia.

    No member give thanks

  • crosscourt

    crosscourt

    17 Nov, 2017 05:54 pm

    If fortunate enough to have an APEC card you avoid many visa stickers from countries like China but I don't understand why China doesn't provide 10 year visas for Australians like they do for the Americans considering we are supposed to be such an important trading partner.
    No member give thanks

  • Chris Chamberlin

    ChrisCh

    13 Jul, 2016 03:18 pm

    Anyone nearby in the office would have just heard a loud "nooooooooo"... currently have a standard passport which is almost full many years before it's due to expire, so will be sure to renew as a frequent traveller passport before the option is removed.

    No member give thanks

  • David Flynn

    David

    13 Jul, 2016 03:19 pm

    I thought that was your cry of anguish from the other side of AusBT HQ, but figured we'd just run out of coffee!

    No member give thanks

  • fxdxdy

    fxdxdy

    13 Jul, 2016 06:08 pm

    AusBT HQ - Is that the business lounge at SYD T3? ;)

    They would never run out of coffee - if they did the whole lounge would shreak with fright!

    No member give thanks

  • sgb

    sgb

    13 Jul, 2016 03:49 pm

    Why don't you just lose it or arrange for it to be stolen and benefit from the removal of replacement fees...

    No member give thanks

  • TheRealBabushka

    TheRealBabushka

    13 Jul, 2016 04:00 pm

    Replacement of a stolen passport requires a police report. I believe lodging a false police report is an offence under the Summary Offences Act 1966 - Section 53, which may include a custodial sentence, if found guilty.

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  • sgb

    sgb

    13 Jul, 2016 04:03 pm

    Simple, just lose it.

    No member give thanks

  • Chris Chamberlin

    ChrisCh

    13 Jul, 2016 04:43 pm

    Legalities aside, I have some hard-to-obtain five-year multi-entry visas in the current passport which would also be valid when travelling with a new passport (and presenting the old passport alongside it), so marking that passport as lost/stolen in the system would invalidate those visas and trigger alarm bells when entering those countries, so it's not an option to even consider. :)

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  • Chris Chamberlin

    ChrisCh

    17 Nov, 2017 02:21 pm

    All users, please be reminded that as per AusBT's comment policy, personal attacks and personal remarks about others aren't welcome here – and in line with that, several comments have been removed as per that policy.

    Further comments which conflict with the same policy will be removed without notice.
    No member give thanks

  • Gunners

    Gunners

    13 Jul, 2016 03:56 pm

    The added problem is the running out of pages before the expiry of international busienss visas.

    No member give thanks

  • tachyon

    tachyon

    14 Jul, 2016 08:05 am

    Well as someone who has managed to fill frequent traveller passports in under 4 years in the past, this will hit home. I may not travel quite as much as I did in the past, but I would still run through a standard passport in only 5-6 years. Disappointing, and I really don't see what their justification is for it. I mean, does eliminating the frequent traveller option actually produce any efficiencies on their end? Or is it just a simple money grab by forcing people to replace filled passports more often?

    No member give thanks

  • bsb

    bsb

    14 Jul, 2016 10:06 am

    I had just one page left when my last ff passport was replaced a month ago.  However I think 70% of that was stamped 5+yrs ago and yet I've travelled considerably more in recent years.  There are just fewer stamps.

    im going to be contentious here and say I don't think fees should be removed for lost or stolen passports (hoping I don't jinx myself as I sit here in SIN as part of a 3'week trip).

    No member give thanks

  • crosscourt

    crosscourt

    15 Jul, 2016 04:02 pm

    Try travelling for 2 months at a time :) Its often at teh back of my mind.

    No member give thanks

  • jwak

    jwak

    15 Jul, 2016 01:18 am

    I go through a 64 page passport every 2 years.  Why would the government phase these out.  Most countries allow a frequent travelling citizen two passports (Aus only if you travel middle east and Israel often).  I would prefer that lost and stolen retain the fee but "full" passports get renewed for free.

    No member give thanks

  • OJA

    OJA

    17 Jul, 2016 01:53 pm

    Hi Jwak, You mentioned "full" passports get renewed for free. I couldn't find anything official online about that. Ant more information you can share?

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  • crosscourt

    crosscourt

    15 Jul, 2016 03:21 pm

    I'll rue the day the business passports are done away with. I'm on my third one, mine fill before expiry. My current one is 3 years old and another 7 years to expire and I have maybe 25 pages left. Why don't people just leave things as they are, why is there always fiddling? Those who have them are paying more anyway. And if they only produce the flimsy regular one with 10 year expiry, will they add pages like some countries do eg: USA? Also some countries won't issue a visa without two free facing pages eg Russia.

    No member give thanks

  • Sidknee

    Sidknee

    15 Jul, 2016 03:51 pm

    Agree crosscourt, add a couple of trips to PNG and their full page stick-in Visas a couple of stamps on arrival/departure and you're quickly burning through 66 pages.

    Was there an underlying reason for the change, ie a fall of in issuance?  Would be interesting to know what the volume of Business Traveller PPs issued were? Other than an "overhaul".

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  • crosscourt

    crosscourt

    15 Jul, 2016 03:59 pm

    no idea. maybe the guys at AusBT have a better idea. It's probably some bureaucrat in Canberra who had little to do one day came up with this idea.

    Member who gave thanks

    drscott944

  • crosscourt

    crosscourt

    15 Jul, 2016 04:04 pm

    Instead of  getting rid of something that so many business travellers would prefer they should be looking at allowing a person to keep the same passport number for life instead of changing the number everytime you get a new passport. I would think that would be a security improvement.

    No member give thanks

  • OJA

    OJA

    17 Jul, 2016 02:00 pm

     Hard to understand why they would stop issuing them. Need  to get my application in soon then as mine is almost full with expiry in 2019.

    No member give thanks

  • robwillett

    robwillett

    17 Jul, 2016 04:18 pm

    This is one of those things one has to ask "Why?" Is this classic government bureaucrats trying to solve a problem that doesn't exist? Instead of wasting your taxpayer funded time on this, look at roads, health, education, the debt. Christ!

    Can you imagine..... It's nothing more than a money grabbing exercise. If people want a 64pp Passport, give it to them. What's the friggin' problem? Imagine the taxpayer funded bureaucrats sitting around deciding this at no doubt a plethora of taxpayer funded meetings:

    "Hey, I know, let's piss people off and make it so the great-unwashed can only get a small passport".

    "Wow Mal, great idea".

    "Let's go to lunch in the Com Car and talk about it". Australian Government is out of control. 

    I recently had my passport stolen in Madrid. I had to pay $AUD 180 to get a temporary emergency passport and then another $280 for a 32 pp replacement in Sydney. They would not issue me a 64pp passport for a stolen passport replacement. So they have already decided this anyway, bludgers. 

    Member who gave thanks

    drscott944

  • TheRealBabushka

    TheRealBabushka

    18 Jul, 2016 09:14 am

    Apparently, I've been advised by the passport office that the frequent traveller passport is generated from a different office. Perhaps it's a cost cutting exercise to get rid of staff in that office? Presumably the unions would go nuts if those jobs were culled and the work was done by another team? So under cover of process rationalisation exercise, the department streamlines their processes, rationalise product portfolio and realise some "efficiency dividends"?

    No member give thanks

  • OJA

    OJA

    18 Jul, 2016 12:05 pm

    Thanks The Real Babu. Even though that sounds so Canberra and bureaucratic, at least there appears some rationale for the decision however flawed. I will be back in Australia in September so I hope it's not too late to apply then. If anyone is aware of a firm date when the frequent traveler passport will be officially discountinued appreciate if you could post it. 

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  • wayne christy

    wayne1959

    20 Jul, 2016 04:04 pm

    I filled my FF PP in 5 years and recently replaced it. Try traveling to the Middle East ad getting Saudi Visas and alike. Now apart to having the most expensive passports on the planet we need to replace them more often. I wonder how many users were surveyed on this before the decision was made? I'd guess zero.

    No member give thanks

  • Miles Rochford

    21five

    4 Aug, 2016 08:20 pm

    Inbound to Sydney a week ago, immigration officer said that the larger size was incompatible with the scanners on the self-serve machines (not sure if they meant optical or RF). Funnily enough, my passport didn't scan successfully and needed referral to another more sensitive machine.

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  • DaveK

    DaveK

    4 Apr, 2017 11:40 am

    Well, just got off the phone from the Australian passport office (April 2017). They state the current 66-page Frequent Traveller passport is still available, and there are no plans to remove it in the future. 

    Going through a renewal at the moment online, option is still there.
    No member give thanks

  • Truie

    Truie

    16 Nov, 2017 03:32 pm

    Another Money grab!
    No member give thanks

  • JPeuty

    JPeuty
    Banned

    16 Nov, 2017 06:42 pm

    [Deleted by admin, as per comment policy.]

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  • Chris Chamberlin

    ChrisCh

    16 Nov, 2017 07:30 pm

    JPeuty: You have been reminded of our comment policy multiple times on this site and the reminders need not continue.

    Accordingly, a decision has been made to suspend your commenting privileges until Monday November 20 2017, to highlight that comments made on this site should not be in conflict with that long-standing policy. Your commenting privileges will be restored during business hours on that date.

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  • SeaVisionBurma

    SeaVisionBurma

    17 Nov, 2017 02:22 am

    Gutted by this decision to be honest.
    I live in Myanmar and Thailand, and travel frequently around SE Asia for work.
    A single arrival in to Yangon is a full page (70 days Business visa on Arrival - the cost for the 12 month multiple entry visas was increased dramatically last December)
    Cambodia - full page visa on entry as another example

    I am less than 3 years into my current 66 page passport, and I am nearly 2/3 full

    So should I get a new 66 page passport now before the 1st December expiry??? I am at a loss on what to do given the short notice on this.

    David - the wording on when a 34 page passport fills up needs some clarification and expansion please. It is not clear on what happens and the cost and procedure.
    No member give thanks

  • David Nicholson

    Nichochan

    17 Nov, 2017 09:56 am

    Utterly infuriating. I go through a frequent traveller passport every two years and so do many expats in Thailand. Every country surrounding Thailand requires a full page visa. Business visas are also issued by Indonesia as a must for business travel (you get questioned at the border if you try a tourist visa entry). Two stamps each time I’m in and out of Bangkok plus the 2 pages per year for my work permit and 32 pages disappear every year. What planet are DFAT on? It’s bad enough replacing my passport every two years but now annually? Even being able to use the same number in an additional document means carrying an ever increasing number of old passports to fiddle around with at immigration and the need to explain to the immigration officer why stamps aren’t in my current passport. Fan freaking tastic DFAT!
    No member give thanks

  • scottie80

    scottie80

    17 Nov, 2017 03:06 pm

    Even with an APEC card I can still manage to fill the 66 pager in around 5 years.

    Cost aside, I hope the online replacement process will apply to those residing overseas and wont force us to front up to the embassy twice just to get another passport with the same expiry date!
    No member give thanks

  • BevanMcBevan

    BevanMcBevan

    17 Nov, 2017 04:14 pm

    ...losing the 66 pager? I'll deal with it. Visa's, as noted by Chris & David, are portable. There's no issue.

    The issue for me is those of you who believe that dishonest practice is excusable. It's not. It is a privilege being an Australian citizen. I for one have been grateful for DFAT when needed over a 20year career travelling more than I wish to.


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  • SeaVisionBurma

    SeaVisionBurma

    17 Nov, 2017 06:50 pm

    Not sure what you are referring to with your comment about "dishonest practise"??

    But lets address your other comment, that visas are portable. Very few are portable, most are not, and its anyway irrelevant.

    As I pointed out earlier, and other posters have confirmed - a single entry visa into many SE Asian countries is a full page. A full page of the passport, every entry. Therefore not transferable - you cannot enter without a new visa, which must go into a current passport, and its using a full page each time.

    The loss of the 66 page passport will affect many of us genuine frequent travellers.
    Kindly don't dismiss those of us affected by this simply because its a 'non-issue' for yourself.
    No member give thanks

  • BevanMcBevan

    BevanMcBevan

    18 Nov, 2017 08:42 pm

    ...err I think you missed it. 'dishonest practice refers to those who claim to have lost a passport in order to gain a replacement'.

    Visa's are portable, as Chris commented on, you simply present the expired passport, with visa, alongside the new passport.

    Non-Issue? I'm on my 2nd 66pager. If your affected by it being moved on do some homework and you'll realise it is a non issue.
    No member give thanks

  • SeaVisionBurma

    SeaVisionBurma

    19 Nov, 2017 02:49 pm

    You're really not understanding the issue about our situation Bevan.
    Please read carefully: Many of the countries I travel to issue a Visa on Arrival, good for one single entry in to the country, and usable one time only - on the date that its issued. These are NOT portable. They can only go in to a current passport. And they fill it up fast.
    Enough with your sarcasm - kindly accept that this IS an issue for many of us. I've done my homework, thank you.
    Member who gave thanks

    AussieExpat

  • Mark Cunningham

    AussieExpat

    17 Nov, 2017 04:25 pm

    Completely premature.
    Living in Asia i go through a frequent travel passport every 2 yrs.
    Why would they not implement this when auto-gates are functioning especially in Asia.

    tachyon - You are absolutely spot on, nothing but a blatant money grab... just like everything else in Australia.

    Plebs making decisions again.
    No member give thanks

  • twkgill

    twkgill

    17 Nov, 2017 04:46 pm

    I'm one year into my FTPP and just hit 50%. I don't live in Australia so logistically it becomes more challenging - work permits, visas and the nearest Australian consular is 5 hours away! With a standard passport this process will be yearly exercise for me now.
    No member give thanks

  • Himeno

    Himeno

    17 Nov, 2017 10:53 pm

    I entered Hong Kong on Wednesday for a day trip to find that they no longer stamped passports and instead printed a small card to be retained with the passport until departure (although they didn't remove it with the departure card).
    When did they start doing that?

    My last passport was 75% full at 9 years.
    My current passport (issued in 2014) has stamps on 16 pages. (some are full, others have space for 1 or 2 more stamps), but the current passport also has 2 less usable pages then the old one due to the "do not stamp" center chip page.
    No member give thanks

  • Andrew

    atkon

    23 Nov, 2017 08:31 am

    I find this really irritating. I travel to Uganda, Ethiopia and Nigeria regularly and each visit requires a whole page for the new visa sticker. The smaller passport will be full after 3 years! I will probably need 2 replacements. But as usual, being in a minority means I'm a casualty of cost cutting and nobody cares. First world problem!
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