Passports and travelling overseas


Passports and travelling overseas for under 18s

If you’re under 18 and want to travel overseas, you’ll need:

You can also jump to specific questions:


When can I get a passport?


You can get a passport at any age.  But if you’re under 18, your parents/guardians have to give their written permission on the application form and a parent has to lodge the application for you.   

What if I can’t get both my parents’ permission?


You can only apply for a passport without both your parents/guardians’ permission if: 

  • There’s a court order that says you can travel overseas without permission

  • You get a special permission from the Minister for Foreign Affairs saying that your physical or mental health will suffer if you can’t travel overseas

  • You get special permission from the Minister of Foreign Affairs because of a family crisis and you have tried and can’t contact the parent/guardian who won’t provide permission for you to go

  • There are exceptional circumstances – this can include if you haven’t spoken or had any contact (over phone, mail, email or in person) to one of your parents at all for a substantial period of time or if there is a family violence order against one of your parents.

    Applying for special circumstances can mean it can take up to 6 weeks to process your application for a passport.    It is best not to make travel plans or buy your ticket until you know that you will be granted a passport.   If a special circumstances application is denied, this decision can be taken to court. Given that the court process is likely to take a long time and involve extra costs and complications, it may be best to wait until you are 18 to get a passport on your own if you're not able to get one for special circumstances.


You should also know that your parents can raise a "Child Alert" if they find out that you are applying for a passport without their consent. This alert notifies the government that they should consider other things before they decide to give you a passport.

For more information on getting a passport when you’re under 18, take a look at this fact sheet from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

If you're under 18 and have a question about getting a passport or travelling overseas, you can also send us a Lawmail.

How do I apply for a passport?


You can apply for a passport online.  Remember, both parents/guardians will need to sign the form unless you have special permission (see above for details).

When you apply for an Australian passport, you must pay a fee of $125 (for under 18s)  and provide original documents, proving your identity and citizenship (for example, your birth certificate), along with photos that meet the passport requirements.

Remember, if you don’t have both of your parents’ permission, you will also need to fill in form B-9.


How long will my passport be valid for?

If you’re under 18, your passport is valid for five years.   

If your child passport has expired, you must complete a new application for a new passport. You can’t renew a child’s passport – you have to apply for a new one.   

I’ve lost my passport or had my passport stolen – what should I do?

If you’ve lost your passport or you think it’s been stolen, you have to report it!  It’s against the law if you don’t report a lost or stolen passport as soon as you can. 

If you’ve lost your passport in Australia, call 131 232, or click here to report your lost or stolen passport:

If you’re overseas and you’ve lost your passport, you will need to go to the nearest Australian embassy or consulate and apply for a new passport.  You can also find addresses of the nearest embassy or consulate close to where you are.   

Click here to get the application form to replace a lost or stolen passport while you are overseas here:  As well as filling in the form, you will have to pay a fee and attend a short interview explaining the loss or theft.   For more information on replacing a lost or stolen passport, check out this factsheet from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

 

I already have a passport – can my parents stop me going overseas?

You should also know that if your parents find out that you are planning to travel outside the country without their permission, they can apply to put your name on the "Airport Watch List", which could prevent you from flying.

To avoid any issues like this, we strongly encourage you to tell your parents if you're planning to travel overseas. They can help you plan your trip and make sure you have enough money, a safe place to stay, etc. If you're having trouble talking to your parents about it, you may want to have a look at this fact sheet on talking to parents.


Buying a plane ticket

Plane tickets are very expensive, so it's a good idea to check the airline rules on young people travelling alone before buying a ticket.  Many airlines won’t allow children to fly alone without both parents, or one parent and a letter from the other parent saying that they give their permission for you to go overseas.  

Getting a visa

Every country has control over who they let into their country.    Many countries require Australian citizens to have special permission, called a ‘visa’ before they can enter the country. A visa says that the holder is allowed to enter and stay for a certain period of time to do certain things in that country.  You will need to work out what visa you need for the country you plan on going to.

For more information about visas, check out this factsheet on the SmartTraveller website.

Travel insurance

If you get sick or hurt in another country, it can be very expensive to get medical treatment.  Your Medicare card generally can’t help you when you’re overseas.  That’s why it’s important to get travel insurance before you leave Australia! To find out where you can get travel insurance, click here.

Also, check out this video about travel insurance:

 
Here’s an example of how useful travel insurance can be!

 

Claire fell down some stairs while visiting historic sites in Madrid, Spain, crushing her skull. She underwent emergency surgery and was unconscious for four days. Thankfully, Claire's travel buddies quickly notified her insurance company.  The insurer was able to help Claire and her family right away. They paid for her mother to fly to Spain for support as she recovered, and met all of the costs associated with her medical treatment, her recovery in Spain and her medical evacuation to Australia. Claire's insurance saved her and her family more than $140,000

(example courtesy of Choice Australia and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade – CC BY 3.0 AU License)
 

Staying safe overseas

Before you go overseas, it’s a good idea to check out SmartTraveller.  It has heaps of useful information on how to stay safe in the country you’re going to, what’s illegal there and places that are dangerous to go.   For more information, check out SmartTraveller.

It’s also a good idea to register your trip with SmartTraveller before you go: that way, if something happens, the Australian Government can contact you and let you know and make you’re safe.   Register online today here.

Find out how SmartTraveller works with this video:




More information

Check out this great factsheet for young people with tips on staying safe when you’re overseas: SmartTraveller Youth.


This page was last updated 24 February 2015.