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 Australian passport holders wanting to renew caught unawares by need to prove citizenship again

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PostSubject: Australian passport holders wanting to renew caught unawares by need to prove citizenship again   Australian passport holders wanting to renew caught unawares by need to prove citizenship again EmptyTue 31 Jul 2018, 7:33 am

Australian passport holders who were born overseas, or had parents born overseas, are being asked to prove their citizenship all over again when renewing their passport.

The ABC has spoken with a number of people who have been told to track down documents and wait months for a $190 citizenship certificate, even though they've held multiple Australian passports before.

Victorian resident Alice Mayor was born in Bombay in 1969 to an Australian-born couple who were working in India at the time.

Her parents registered her birth at the Australian Trade Commissioner's Office and she was added to her mother's passport.

Ms Mayor moved to Australia when she was five months old and has lived here for 48 years.

She has held three Australian passports in the intervening years and travelled abroad with no problem, but when she tried to renew her expired passport this year she was told she must provide evidence of her citizenship.

Her father Chris Mayor, who is about to turn 90, told ABC Melbourne's Ali Moore they were advised that simply having held an Australian passport in the past was not sufficient.

The delay meant the family had to cancel an expensive and much-anticipated trip to Europe.

"There was a window in their busy lives, my two daughters, when they wanted to go to Europe and they invited me ... to go with them which I was very touched by," he said.

"But we had to cancel everything because when [Alice] tried to get her new passport they said you have got to prove your citizenship.

"She was a citizen by descent from her two Australian parents and they said it would take anything from two to four months to get all that processed.

Mr Mayor said the Australian Passport Office told the family they could not use her previous passport application because the records had been "trashed".

"She feels humiliated by this attitude of the Government questioning her citizenship," he said.

"Her great-great-grandfather was the acting premier of Queensland who was part of federation.

Her story is not unusual, with many listeners sharing their stories of frustration at having to prove their citizenship all over again.

Rose in Geelong has booked an overseas trip departing in August but those plans are now in jeopardy.

She came to Australia with her parents when she was 10 months old and was listed on their naturalisation paperwork, which was sufficient for her to obtain her original passport.

But this time around she was told that paperwork "is no longer applicable".

"When I went to apply they said I had to get my Australian citizenship papers," she said.

Another listener said her adopted son, one of two adopted children who were born overseas, is serving in the Army.

"He applied for a civilian passport to travel overseas, his application was rejected because he did not have a citizenship certificate. It took me from October to March to get their certificates," the listener said.

"My children can both vote and have had healthcare cards and previous passports. They pay tax.

Must be satisfied of citizenship

A Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) spokesperson said: "Long-standing law requires DFAT to be satisfied of a person's citizenship before issuing a passport, including each time it issues a new passport to a person with a current or expired passport.

"Where citizenship is hard to establish for any reason, DFAT asks the applicant to obtain evidence from the Department of Home Affairs. Home Affairs is the government agency responsible for establishing whether a person is an Australian citizen.

"Given the personal circumstances of applicants vary, the Australian Passport Office encourages all passport applicants with questions to contact the Australian Passport Information Service to discuss application requirements."

The spokesperson said the documents required to prove citizenship varied depending on factors such as:

.  whether the person was born before August 20, 1986
.  whether a period of permanent residency is part of the person's claim to citizenship
.  whether the person was born in Australia or overseas
.  whether the person was born in a current or former external territory.

The Department of Home Affairs has been contacted for comment.
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