It's no secret that Australians love to travel. In fact, around 10 million Aussies leave the country every year for short stays around the world - not bad for a population of almost 25 million.
The only problem is this: to leave the country, and enter others, you'll need a current Australian passport, and obtaining one isn't as cheap or simple as it could be.
Not only does it take around three weeks to apply for, and receive a new passport, you also need to make sure that your photo meets the government's precise specifications.
Make a wrong move, and you'll have to go through the application process again, with an extra fee for processing the rejection.
When it comes to organising important aspects of travel, don't take chances. Instead, use our guide to finding cheap passport photos that tick every box the government needs.
Cheap Passport Photos By City
First off, there's the option of heading to a specialist store or booth to have your photos taken.
There are places offering passport photo deals in all of Australia's biggest cities, and they tend to vary slightly between locations. So let's have a closer look at where to have your snaps taken.
If you're looking for cheap passport photos Sydney offers plenty of local choices. One of the best places to head is Officeworks.
There are locations in CBD several CBD locations, including Pitt Street, Clarence Street and Hunter Street.
Officeworks passport photos are 100% biometric - as government rules require, and they aren't too expensive at $14.95 for four images.
Officeworks aren't the only place to try, though. Alternatives include Japan Camera (also on Pitt Street) and Photoland, who have a specialist team for fulfilling Visa requirements.
For those hunting cheap passport photos Melbourne offers almost as much choice.
Again, Officeworks passport photos are an option, with outlets on Elizabeth Street, Bourke Street and Russell Street.
Digi Direct offer passport photos in the CBD on Elizabeth Street, and their photos come with compliance certificates which should ensure they aren't rejected.
However, pharmacies located across the city will do the job professionally, along with stores like Ted's Cameras (locations around Melbourne).
If you're looking for passport photos, Officeworks or Ted's Cameras on Adelaide Street are great options for central Brisbane.
A convenient alternative is Kmart, which has Photo Centres located all over the Brisbane area (and other Aussie cities), and is likely to be cheaper than city-centre photo specialists.
For passport photos in Adelaide, you might head to Officeworks locations on Anzac Highway or Portrush Road. All are close to the CBD and provide a professional service.
However, local stores like Hutt St Photos are also equipped to handle modern biometric photo systems, and are skilled at meeting visa requirements of countries like the USA or Italy.
If you need passport photos in Western Australia, Perth's best option could well be Perth Passport Photos. Located in the Broadway Shopping Centre just outside the CBD, the store is totally dedicated to the needs of travellers, so you can be sure they won't make any silly mistakes.
Other possibilities include chains like Digi Direct (Cecil Ave, Cannington), or Kmart Photo Centres in places like Maddington, Clarkson or Innaloo.
National: Head To Your Local Australia Post
Australia Post is another place that all travellers should consider, and there are outlets all over Australia.
While you can have Australia Post passport photos printed out at their centres, but there's another option, too. Australia Post will also email through your photos in totally compliant format - a great option if you plan to print your own passport images. With costs at around $16.95 with digitisation.
What you need to know about taking passport photos in Australia
As we noted earlier, having your passport photos taken professionally is really important. This is not a situation where you should opt for the cheapest and quickest option. You should be looking for quality as well as a great price.
Don't cut corners:
Choosing to take your passport photos at shopping centre booths will not work. Since changing Australian passports to a biometric format, the government is strict about what images are accepted. With that in mind, budget for a bit more than you're used to and take the time to choose a reputable service.
Keep a neutral expression:
When you take images, keep your expression as neutral as possible. The government aren't interested in seeing a perfect smile. ID systems require clear images of faces to scan and approve. (This is no mean feat when it comes to taking photos of young kids, and it may take several shots before you get an acceptable one.)
Remove any eyewear:
Since July 2018, Australian travellers cannot wear glasses in their passport photos. Remember to slip your specs into your pocket while your photo is taken.
Adhere to size guidelines:
It's always important to stick within the guidelines for an Australian passport photo size. In fact, this is probably the most important rule of all, so remember these numbers:
- Keep photos between 35-40mm wide and 45-50mm long
- Try to place your eyes at around 35mm up the photo
It takes some practice, but you'll ace it in no time, as long as you keep those numbers in mind.
Use the correct border colour:
Another key requirement is for a white or light grey border. Not cream, off white, or beige - it's got to be white or light grey.
More points to keep in mind:
- Photos must be 6 months old or less - so don't leave them hanging around
- The face has to be clearly visible, with no hair over it
- The photo must be in full colour, no sepia or black and white
- Every applicant must send in two identical photos
Follow these guidelines and rejection shouldn't be a problem.
If by any chance you have photos taken professionally and you find your Officeworks passport photos rejected, don't worry. Just keep the receipt from your photography session and present it to the store who took them. They are obliged to give you a refund - so take it.
How To Take Your own Passport Photos
So far, we've mainly talked about how to get the best passport photos from Australian outlets. But there's another popular option: DIY passport photos.
Going it alone can be the cheapest way to source your photos, but there are some more things to think about before you dig our your digital camera.
Firstly, there are those size requirements we mentioned above. You need to stay exactly within those recommendations, which isn't always easy if you're doing the image manipulation. However, apps like 123Passportphoto will automatically resize your image to the correct dimensions, so they might be worth a look.
In any case, you're the one taking the images, so you'll need the right equipment.
The government recommends using a camera with a focal length from 90-130mm placed 1.2 metres from the subject.
When you've chosen the right camera, find a pure white backdrop, and a steady, bright source of light. Ideally, a friend or family member should take the photos, although if you have a tripod, that would do just as well.
When you pose, get that perfect neutral passport expression, keep both of your eyes totally open, resist the urge to smile and make sure both of your ears are in shot.
Take some time to set up the shot, as getting all of the elements in place really matters.
If you decide to print the images yourself, you'll need to use heavy weight glossy paper with a GSM of 200, which can be purchased from most stationery stores. And use the best inkjet printer you can find - not a laserjet.
These requirements make printing your own passport photos somewhat complex, not to mention expensive. It's probably more sensible (not to mention easier) to enlist your local Kmart, Officeworks or Australia Post when it comes to procuring your passport photos. That way you can get on with more exciting elements of travel - like planning your itinerary, choosing a great travel stroller, and picking out a new swimsuit!
For more on Australian passport guidelines, visit the official website.