Liv Hambrett

Germany + Australia + Culture + Motherhood + Home

Travel + Life Abroad

The Passport Decade

The last time I renewed my passport, it was 2006 and just before a family trip to Japan (aka The Griswolds Take Japan). I clearly remember thinking, ‘ha, when I have to renew this bad boy, I’ll be 31.’ In fact I may have even said those words to my friend who was with me, with a sort of repulsed emphasis on ‘thirty‘. Oh my God that felt so far away. Who even turns 31? I had a whole decade stretching ahead of me, a decade of glowing, youthful skin to be flashed at airports all around the world. Thirty-one was light years away, so far away I couldn’t even imagine where I’d be (apart from dominating award ceremonies across multiple industries, because dreams are still without fences at 21). I clutched that brand new passport in my little hand, and put 2016 away on a very high shelf, in the far reaches of my nubile, elastic, world-is-my-oyster mind. There it sat as a marker for the closing of a huge window of time.

Fast forward to booking a trip to Singapore early 2016. 2016 is no longer light years away, indeed it is approximately 13 weeks away. Something kept niggling every time we discussed the dates, until I suddenly said, ‘Shit, I think I need a new passport in 2016.’ Suddenly the year 2016 fell from where it has been collecting dust on that very high shelf in the far reaches of my mind, and landed with a clunk at my aged and wizened feet. The decade of my passport, it seems, has come to an end, and I am staring down the barrel of an age I had little concept of ten years ago when I smirked youthfully at the local post office manager taking my picture against a wall.

Because being an Australian is an expensive endeavour, to renew one’s passport as an Aussie abroad (as of July 2015 … irritatingly) one must pay 224€. Oh, and actually go to the embassy in Berlin or Frankfurt. So throw in a tank of fuel, or a return Deutsche Bahn ticket. If you are particularly footloose and fancy free, like us, why not make a weekend of it, or stay a night in one of Germany’s raging metropolises? Have a nice dinner, enjoy a coffee or two. Add it all up, and you’re looking at something like 400€ to renew your bloody Australian passport.

But that’s fine. Road trips are always fun, although less so when the Autobahn shuts down because someone ten kilometres up ahead rear-ended someone else, and you have no choice but to release your child and let her crawl all over the road before she loses her shit in the car seat, while you gaze, both repelled and envious, at the endless line of men scampering into the forest to relieve themselves. (Mind you, they needn’t bother scampering anywhere, the intent to hide themselves seems non-existent.)  And the Vietnamese dinner was delicious. And my appointment took 4 minutes, and they let me go in at 10 instead of the scheduled 11 (begging the question, Australian government, why must we show up at an embassy for a four minute appointment?) so we got a headstart on the trip home. And, even better, we don’t have to do it all again for another ten years.


In a few weeks, some post bearing two little navy blue books will arrive. The battered one I debuted in Japan has been filled with a collection of stamps (and one really unflattering visa) that draw a higgledy-piggledy path to 31. To enter Singapore in 14 weeks time, I will use the crisper one, the one identified by less-plump, less-youthful skin. It will open a new decade, and begin drawing a path to … 41.


Who even turns 41?



(Just quietly, I wrote a little something for Wimdu about my favourite spots in Munich, a city I first visited using that battered passport back in 2007. English//Deutsch.)


  1. cravesadventure

    23 September, 2015 at 4:05 pm

    Did you hear on the news this morning that some individuals in certain states within the United States will have to have a passport to fly within the United States. I was so excited to receive my first passport and thought I would have it until it expired, but then marriage stepped in and I had to change my name. I still have my 1st passport though. Happy Traveling 🙂

  2. morri

    24 September, 2015 at 3:36 pm

    My husband wh is south african needs to update his passport a bit more often, in berlin. coming from HH… doesnt help that SA embassy is a pain and takes a year to accomplish the task (literally not sarcastically)

  3. Isa

    26 September, 2015 at 11:56 am

    You do make me giggle with your age references! You are so young and yet you feel so old! I’ll be 41 next year…. now that really is old. Cherish your young years.

  4. Meg

    3 October, 2015 at 3:28 pm

    You had to go to Berlin to renew your passport? They just let me fill in the form and then send it and my passport to them. Four weeks later, I got my new passport.
    I do agree that the cost of a new Aussie passport is ridiculously expensive.

    1. Liv

      3 October, 2015 at 7:10 pm

      But when did you do that? Rules changed July this year – now it is no longer possible to do it by post. Annoying!

      1. Martin Barry

        8 October, 2015 at 5:51 pm

        Not only that but they added a new “overseas renewal fee” which is another $100 or so. These are the reasons I renewed mine in June almost a whole year before it was due to expire. Thankfully I live near Frankfurt, but still…

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