Passports are a pain in the complicated

Getting a passport is a major hassle – there’s paperwork, photo-taking, standing in queues, and it’s almost guaranteed that the final product will have you looking like a serial killer, thanks to the ‘no smiling’ rule. So why bother?

Well, if you’re planning on never ever ever leaving the country, you probably don’t actually need one. Want to leave Australia, even for a quick trip to New Zealand? You’ll need a passport, because despite being closer to Sydney than Perth is, it’s still a different country, and to go to another country – any other country – you’ll be needing a passport.

A passport is also a useful form of ID, it’s recognized internationally and some jobs will ask you for a copy of your passport during the application process to confirm you’re a citizen of that country.

How to apply for one depends on a) who you are, and b) whether you’re applying for a new one or renewing your old one, so check out the Australian Passport Office to find out which form you need to fill out.

You’ll also be needing several passport sized photos of yourself (no smiling!) to submit, and it’s recommended that you have these taken professionally, as other ones won’t be accepted. It can cost up to $20, but it usually only takes 5 minutes and you’re guaranteed they won’t be rejected by the passport office. One really frustrating downside? No one ever looks good in their passport photo, ever. You will most likely end up looking like a psychopath or serial killer due to the no-fun, no-smiling rule, which means that no matter how nice you try to look (hair, make-up, etc), you will not look like a nice person. The best part about passport photos? Most people will never see it, unless you’re a frequent international traveller, or it’s so funny that everyone has to see it, which has happened to many people, sadly. Much like driver’s license photos, they’re only good if they’re really bad.

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One question uni students ask about everything is: is it free? The answer here is no, depressingly. Applying for an adult Australian passport will set you back $238. Ouch.

But the toughest question to answer has got to be: when do you apply for a passport? The day before you want to leave is definitely a no-no. While the form states that it only takes 10 days, it’s a lie, prepare to wait at least a month. There is also a 2 day rush option, available for a hefty fee of $105. To be safe, I say apply well before you want to go anywhere. Adult passports are valid for 10 years, so it probably won’t expire right before you want to go somewhere if you apply now-ish.

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