Over the coming weeks the Passport Service are introducing a number of changes to passport application procedures. These include the move from the very successful pilot to full implementation of the appointments service in the Molesworth Street office; and the withdrawal of the ordinary post service over time.
In November 2012, the Passport Office in Molesworth Street launched a pilot programme to allow customers to book, via a simple web based system, guaranteed time slots before travelling into the office. The pilot has proved very successful. The public have responded very well to this pilot programme and in particular are very welcoming of the fact that the many hours previously spent queuing in the office has been eliminated. Customers are now in and out having lodged their application in approximately 10 minutes. Additionally the pilot has extended the public opening hours of the office from 09.30-16.30 to 09.00 -17.00.
Priority in the system is given to those with urgent travel needs (travelling in 3-10 days) with the majority of appointments available to those who fit into this category. Additionally, the Passport Service continue to provide the service of turning around applications on the same day in cases where a passport is required for travel necessitated by an emergency such as the death or illness of a family member. All others are encouraged to use the passport express service.
There has been a 33% decrease in counter applications year to date with a corresponding increase in passport express applications. The appointments system critically allows the Passport Service to identify and prioritise those applications with greatest need for short turnaround. Additionally, from the customer perspective, the change has removed the necessity for the public to queue for many hours, of unknown duration, and early in the morning outside in inclement weather.
For citizens resident on the island of Ireland, the cheapest and most efficient means of processing their passport application continues to be through the passport express services operated on behalf of the Passport Service by An Post and by the Post Office in Northern Ireland. This service, which involves a pre-checking facility, has a maximum ten working day turnaround.
This compares favourably to postal applications not transmitted through the passport express system, of which over 90% are either inaccurate or incomplete on arrival, with 35% lacking the correct documentation and the vast majority lacking the correct fee. As a consequence, these applications take more than twice as many man hours to process as passport express applications, thereby draining resources from the processing of valid applications submitted through the passport express system or through the appointment system.
With a view to further improving the quality of service to the public, therefore, applications from addresses on the island of Ireland received by regular and registered post after 30 June 2013 will be returned to the applicant who will be advised to resubmit their application through the passport express service. Information on the changes to application procedures will be advertised in the national press, on the Passport Service website and through social media channels.