97,389 passport applications lodged with Passport Office in January 2019 – Smyth

Gardai– DFA must prepare itself for a further surge in applications after March 2019 –

The Passport Service received 97,389 passport applications in January 2019 alone according to figures released to Cavan-Monaghan TD Deputy Niamh Smyth. This compares to 76,565 applications in January of last year.

Commenting Deputy Smyth said, “I questioned the numbers of applications with the Passport Service following numerous calls to my offices from concerned constituents who had applied for their passports and were not sure if they would have them on time to travel, despite the guidelines. At the moment I’ve been advised that the processing times depend very much of what category of application you choose. You can now renew your application online, there’s postal express and also appointments can be made. I would advise anyone who is travelling soon and know they will need their passport renewed to put their application in as soon as possible. Allow lots of time to avoid stress.”

“It has been brought to my attention by individual cases I’ve met that a lot of people are not familiar with the Passport Appointment process and I’ve found in some instances this works out better if you have little time before your upcoming flight for a  renewal passport. I would urge anyone thinking of planning a holiday with a new born baby to lodge the application as soon as possible. These first time applications, particularly for a child/infant, can take a number of weeks to process.”

At the moment I’ve been advised that renewal applications online are taking 10 days, while renewing by postal express are being processed within 15 working days, this means you must allow over 4 weeks for such an application when you include weekends. I have been advised that first time applications from citizens applying to replace a lost, stolen or damaged passport are being processed in 16 working days plus postage, so a total of 20 working days there.”

“There is no doubt that Brexit is having an impact on the thinking of many members of the Irish diaspora living in Great Britain, and I suspect of many unionists living in Northern Ireland who want to retain their citizenship of the European Union”, said Deputy Smyth.

“Having an Irish passport has always been a prized possession for many people. However, I think its value has increased considerably since the decision of the UK to leave the European Union in 2016.

“It will be interesting to note the number of applications for Irish passports after the UK officially leaves the Union at the end of March 2019. The full ramifications of what leaving the Union, and in particular giving up the automatic right to free movement across the EU, means may only become apparent when reality bites.

“Last year, we saw major delays for some people applying for new passports. The Department of Foreign Affairs and the Passport Office need to have the necessary staff in place to ensure that any further increases in applications do not cause further delays and waiting times,” concluded Deputy Smyth.

-ENDS-

Please find PQ attached.

 

______________________________________________
For Written Answer on : 26/02/2019
Question Number(s): 98 Question Reference(s): 9383/19
Department: Foreign Affairs and Trade
Asked by: Niamh Smyth T.D.
______________________________________________

QUESTION
To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the status of passport waiting times; the length of time online applications are taking to process; the length of time postal express applications are taking to complete; the number of applications the Passport Office has dealt with to date in 2019; if the number has increased from the same period in 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

REPLY
The Passport Service offers a range of convenient channels for the submission of passport applications by Irish citizens at home or abroad. These include a postal application system, known as Passport Express, an online passport renewal service, and a counter service for applicants who have immediate travel plans.

The Passport Service recently expanded the Online Passport Renewal Service to include renewal of children’s passports. The online service brings significant benefits for citizens with faster turnaround times of 10 working days for all online applications, excluding postage.  In addition, the cost of renewing a passport online is cheaper than alternative methods, with fees for all online applications being reduced by €5 across all application types.

The current processing times for postal applications submitted through Passport Express depend on the category of application. Renewal applications are currently being processed within the target turnaround time of 15 working days plus postage time. First time applications and applications from citizens who are applying to replace a lost, stolen or damaged passport are being processed in 16 working days plus postage time, 4 days ahead of the target turnaround time of 20 working days.
In January 2019, the passport service received 97,389 passport applications. This compares to 76,565 received in January 2018.

The Passport Service monitors the volume of applications on an on-going basis to ensure that resources are available to meet demand. Measures taken to address anticipated application increases and seasonal demand include increased staff allocation and a number of technology and customer service initiatives.

 

 

 

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