Family holiday almost ruined over unbelievable passport mistake: 'All their fault'

A Sydney dad was seeing red after the Australian Passport Office got his daughter’s name wrong, leading to a five-month delay for her passport.

“I’ve been a courier for 22 years and I’ve seen some really out there names but I’ve never seen [this]”, Josh Davis told Yahoo News Australia.

The father of two said he had lodged passport renewals for both of his children on April 19, well ahead of a family holiday to Bali for a wedding in October.

“I saw a bit on Facebook about delays because of everyone travelling, so being a worrywart I thought we’ll get the kids done now so we get it over and done with,” he explained.

The Davis family in front of Sydney Harbour Bridge
The Davis family was left scratching their heads after their daughter's passport was printed with a spelling mistake. Source: Josh Davis

The first bungle

By late August, Mr Davis had received an email only about his son’s passport being processed.

Confused, he rang the Passport Office to be told that they’d entered his email address incorrectly on his daughter’s application.

“It was those guys entering it wrong because my wife did it all written and she’s got very neat writing,” he said.

Instead of it had been taken down as

“I went, yeh ok, you know, an honest mistake,” Mr Davis said.

An incorrect name

Finally Mr Davis’s son’s passport arrived but there was still no sign of his daughter’s.

“So I called the Passport Office back and the gentleman asked for my daughter's name and when I said Sienna, he said to me, how do you spell Sienna?

“I told him, S-i-e-n-n-a, and he said, ‘well that's not what I've got here'.

After being put on hold, Mr Davis was told that his daughter’s passport would be delivered in a week, and that he should wait until it arrived to check the spelling.

But by September 10 the Passport Office had realised its mistake.

“My wife got a call which we thought was a bit weird and they mentioned then that the passport name, Sienna’s, was spelt incorrectly,” the father of two said.

“It was spelt Siwnna, which is nothing like Sienna.”

“But as I said to my wife and friends, surely there's got to be some sort of security check, you know someone does that ,and then it gets ticked off by someone else, considering it’s a pretty important document.

“Unless they're busy and desperate and they’re just going, ‘yep quick flick it through, yep that's good’.”

The outside of a passport (left) and the Davis family (right).
Mr Davis described the drama as a 'shocker' but was ready to celebrate when he finally collected his 13-year-old's passport. Source: Josh Davis

A costly mistake

In order to rectify the error, Mr Davis had to take a day off work, costing him overtime, and line up for three hours to bring Sienna’s documentation into the Passport Office in the middle of September. This was despite the Passport Office already having a copy of the teenager’s birth certificate.

A week later, Mr Davis still hadn’t heard about his daughter’s passport so he called the office once again.

He was told that his email address was still listed incorrectly but that he could come in to collect the passport.

However when he arrived at the office on Tuesday, it was nowhere to be found.

Finally the document was discovered in a pile of passports ready to be sent out, with the correct name.

For Mr Davis and his family, the process was “a shocker.”

“That was all their fault, everything we did was correct,” he said.

People lining up outside the Passport Offices in Melbourne.
People have been forced to line up for hours to get into Passport Offices around Australia. Source: AAP

Multiple checkpoints

In a statement to Yahoo News Australia, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) said the Australian Passport Office has multiple checkpoints throughout the passport process.

This is to ensure applicants’ names, photographs and other personal details are checked both before and after printing.

“APO strives to ensure that every passport issued is error-free through rigorous quality and assurance checks as part of the processing of applications,” a spokesperson for DFAT said.

“In a very small percentage of cases, where an error is detected, the APO engages directly with the customer and makes every effort to ensure that the issue is promptly rectified.”

The spokesperson added that the APO is facing unprecedented demand for passports.

“This high demand for passport services is placing pressure on passport systems and has caused passport processing delays,” they said.

“We regret these delays and are investing energy and resources to address these, including more than doubling APO’s staffing numbers, from roughly 730 staff to over 1,900 now.”

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