Getting an Australian child passport for your child can seem like an ordeal after you and your partner have divorced or separated, but it doesn’t have to be.

How do I get a passport for my child?

There are three main things to remember:

  1. The Australian child passport application needs to have:
    1. each parent or guardian’s written consent to the child getting an Australian child passport; or
    2. an Australian Court Order allowing the child to have an Australian child passport, travel internationally, or live or spend time with a person outside Australia.
  2. If your Orders don’t provide for travel or the passport application process, there are “special circumstances” in the passport legislation allowing you to ask for the Australian Passport Office to consider the Australian child passport application.
  3. Most importantly, you shouldn’t make any travel bookings until your child’s Australian child passport has been issued or you know that it will be issued. Cancelling a ticket because you didn’t get the passport can be a very expensive way of learning not to put the cart before the horse!

How do I get a child passport with one parent absent?

It’s not just you who can make the application for the child passport.

Parents/all people with parental responsibility for the child need to complete the application for an Australian child passport.  Usually, the parents named on the child’s birth certificate have parental responsibility, and that doesn’t change until it is removed by an Australian court or the child turns 18 years of age.

Can a legal guardian get a passport for a child?

Parental responsibility can be granted to someone who is not the parent named on the child’s birth certificate.  For example, if a mother is named on the birth certificate but a court gives the child’s grandmother parental responsibility for the child, then the grandmother would need to give her written consent to the child’s passport application and can also apply for a passport.

If you are applying for an Australian child passport on behalf of your child but the other parent is in another part of Australia, they can give their consent to the child passport application by visiting any passport office or agency in Australia.

If the other parent is overseas, they can go to an Australian diplomatic or consular mission to give their consent.

Can I get a passport for my child without the mother’s or father’s consent?

If the other person won’t give their consent, the only way you can apply for a passport for your child is if you have an Australian Court Order allowing your child to:

  1. have an Australian child passport;
  2. travel internationally; or
  3. live or spend time with a person outside Australia.

If you already have a Court Orders, then you need to send the original order, along with the child passport application and a completed Form B7*(No further court orders).

What if there are no travel orders in the Court Orders we have?

If your Court Orders don’t provide for international travel and the other person still won’t give their consent, then you can ask for the child passport application to be considered under the “special circumstances” set out in subsection 11(2) of the Australian Passports Act 2005 and section 10 of the Australian Passports Determination 2015.

What are these “special circumstances”?

Some examples of “special circumstances” are:

  • if neither the parent making the passport application nor the Minister can contact the non-consenting person;
  • the non-consenting person is either missing or presumed dead;
  • there has been no contact between the child and the non-consenting person for a reasonable time;
  • if there has been family violence and a family violence order made against the non‑consenting person or if the child lives overseas, there is evidence of family violence; or
  • if there are child welfare orders.

So, in these circumstances, to make the application you would need to send in:

Some examples of evidence you can provide include Court Orders (child welfare or family violence), medical or police reports, and/or statements from government agencies.

Am I guaranteed a child passport if I send in everything they ask for?

There is never a guarantee that the application will be accepted if you make a child passport application without the full consent of the other person.

The person assessing the application may contact other people (the other parent or anyone else) for more information regarding the child passport application you have made.

Based on all the information they have, they can either:

  • issue the passport;
  • refuse to issue the passport because the matter should be dealt with by a court; or
  • not issue the passport because special circumstances do not exist.

If they don’t issue the child passport, can I have the decision reviewed?

The only time you can have a decision reviewed is if the Australian Passport Office says that the passport was not issued because special circumstances don’t exist.

Remember, if the passport isn’t issued then the application fee will generally not be refunded. You can have this decision reviewed if you want.

How long does it take to get a passport after I have lodged the application?

If you’ve lodged a child passport application without the full consent of the other person, then you are looking at a six (6) to eight (8) week wait.

What if I have a court order from overseas?

There are some court orders from other countries which may allow you to apply for an Australian child passport without the consent of the child’s other parent or guardian.  These are:

  • a court order which removes parental responsibility and which has been registered under the Australian Family Law Act 1975 (Cth); and
  • orders from a country that has signed the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction and which allow the child to travel internationally. You would still need to complete the Form B9* – Child without full parental consent to request the passport application be considered under the special circumstances provisions.

If these exceptions do not apply, then you will still need to get the consent of the person with parental responsibility.

If the orders you have are in another language, you will need to have them translated into English by an approved translation service (see for more information).

What can I do if I think my child will be taken overseas if they have a valid passport?

If you’re worried that your child’s passport might be used to take them overseas without you knowing, you can request a Child Alert to prevent the issue of a passport.

Unfortunately, a Child Alert cannot stop your child from travelling if they have an Australian passport or if they are legally entitled to an Australian travel document or a travel document from another country.

But you can request that their name be put on the Australian Federal Police’s Family Law Watch List.  This would mean that if someone was trying to leave the country with your child, you child’s name would be flagged with the AFP and they would not be allowed to leave the country.  To apply to have your child’s name added to the Family Law Watch List, you need to either have:

  • Court Orders limiting or preventing the child’s overseas travel and which request that the AFP put the child’s name on the Watch List;
  • filed an application for such Court Orders; or
  • filed an appeal against such Court Orders.

I want to take my child overseas but I don’t want to ask the other parent. What can I do?

Just don’t do it.

If you take your child overseas without consent, it may be a criminal offence.

Contact a member of our Brisbane family law team about your options