This week it was time to renew passports for some of the children. As they have dual British and New Zealand nationality this involved separate applications, and very different experiences. The New Zealand system is entirely online, involving a few questions, a digital photo and the contact details of a referee. Despite some technical issues with the referee’s phone number it was quick and straightforward. The British system was also accessible online but asked more questions and required the form to be printed out, attached to a paper photo and countersigned. It took longer and cost more than last time, plus postage. In contrast the New Zealand application cost less.
I ascertained that the fees for passports in New Zealand are linked to the costs of providing the service. As digitisation has reduced costs so the fees came down. Costs to produce a British passport have also fallen but these savings have not been passed on. Perhaps that’s because Britain’s national debt is estimated at $33,485 US dollars per person compared to $13,049 in New Zealand.
Perhaps the new British government will consider linking ancillary charges to the cost of the service provided. This is not only fairer but guards against politicians using stealth taxes to address serious failings in their financial management.