Obtaining A Passport For A Child After Parents Separate

Children are unable to travel overseas from Australia without a passport.  A child cannot be included on an adult’s passport and must have their own passport.  The Australian passport for a child under 16 years of age is valid for 5 years and for a child who is aged 16 or 17 years is issued usually for 10 years.  Each time a child needs a new passport a full application is required to be made.

To obtain an Australian passport for a child the consent of the persons who have parental responsibility for the child is required by the Australian Passports Act 2005, or a Court Order must be made under the Family Law Act 1975 to permit the child to have an Australian passport or there are “special circumstances” determined under the Passport Determination Act 2015.  

Generally the persons who have parental responsibility for the child are the parents named on the child’s birth certificate, however, that parental responsibility can be changed by a Court Order made under the Family Law Act 1975 or in child welfare proceedings.  

Where the child’s parents have separated and there is no Court Order changing the parental responsibility for the child, then an application for a passport can be made to the Passport Office where one parent refuses to give their consent, but unless the Passport Office determines there are “special circumstances” then the passport will not be issued.  These “special circumstances” include an inability to contact a nonconsenting parent for a reasonable period of time, or the existence of a family violence order issued by a Court against the nonconsenting parent or the child being the subject of a child welfare Court Order. If the passport is not issued then it will be necessary to make an Application to the Court under the Family Law Act to obtain a Court Order for the passport to issue to the child.

The Family Court has determined that it has jurisdiction to make a Court Order requiring a passport to issue for a child without a parent’s consent and/or signature.  7A of the Passports Act 1938 provides that an Australian passport will not be issued to an unmarried minor unless the minor provides the authorised Officer with the written consent of every person who has caring responsibility for the minor or a copy of a Court Order made in pursuance of a law of the Commonwealth or of a State or Territory permitting the minor to leave Australia.  The Court determined a parent making arrangements for the issuing of a passport to a child to enable the child to participate in overseas travel is a quite ordinary incident of parental responsibility under section 61C(1) of the Family Law Act and a matter concerning a child’s welfare under section 67ZC of the Family Law Act. As a result the Court determined that it had jurisdiction to make a Court Order dispensing with the signature of a parent to enable a passport to issue for a child.

This is general information only and is not legal advice. You should obtain specific legal advice regarding your specific circumstances. © Family Lawyers & Mediation Services. All rights reserved. Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.