That small blue book is your entry ticket to the world. So how do you get a passport and what do you have to do to make sure it's in your hand in time for your big trip?
Check your eligibility
Firstly, make sure you're eligible for an Australian passport. The main eligibility requirement is Australian citizenship. That means you're either born in Australia or you've got a certificate of Australian citizenship.
Ready, set, snap
All set? Now it's time to get a photo of yourself and it's not just a matter of taking a selfie. There are strict guidelines about what a good passport photo is and what isn't. If your photo is rejected, you could delay your passport application, or even fail to get one. It's that important. Guidelines include size of photo and having your eyes open and looking straight into the camera.
Also, make sure your skin tone reflects true colour. A filter might be attractive on Instagram, but not for a passport photo! No cute head tilts, hair on face or pouty expressions either - just face the camera, keep a neutral, natural expression and your photo will work for your passport. You'll also need two hard copies of it.
Confused? Go to your local Post Office and let an expert at instant passport and photo ID images take care of it for you.
Get your documents in order
Next, you're going to have to present some documents to prove your Australian citizenship: either your birth certificate or your certificate of citizenship. Name changed since you got those? Your passport will be issued in your birth name unless you've officially changed it with the Australian Registry of Birth Deaths and Marriages and you'll need the proof of that too.
You also need to present documents to prove your identity. They typically include your current driver licence, Medicare card, Centrelink card, a credit or debit card, property rate notice or lease agreement, utility bill and bank statement. For details check the Australian Passport Office website.
File your application
Excellent. You've got all that lined up. Now it's time to fill in the passport application, which you'll find on the Australian Passport Office website. You can either do that online, or head into your nearest Post Office to get a hard copy. Make sure you fill out everything. It sounds obvious, but one skipped question and your application won't go through, so take your time and double- check.
You'll also need another person to fill in some information. This person is called a guarantor of your application. They need to be over 18 and have known you for at least 12 months but not be a relative or someone living at the same address. They must also be a current passport holder or on the electoral role. And they'll need to sign the back of one of photos, too, as well as writing "This is a true photograph of …" then your name.
Remember too: no fancy purple pens! Everything must be in black ink. It's a legal requirement.
A few final checks
Okay, you've got everything in order. Now all you have to do is find your nearest Post Office for an interview. This interview is really easy, and they'll just ask you a few formal questions and check your form and photo to make sure everything is in order. You'll pay your passport application fee.
Next, they'll send off your application, so all you need to do is wait. You should have your Australian passport in about three weeks. If you need one in a super hurry, ask about the priority processing service.
Next thing to do? Remember to take your passport to the airport and enjoy your travels.
Find a Post Office
Find your nearest Post Office and get your passport application sorted