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Passport Applications Administration

Dáil Éireann Debate, Wednesday - 30 May 2018

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Questions (85)

Declan Breathnach


85. Deputy Declan Breathnach asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if his attention has been drawn to the ongoing delays in the issuing of passports in both the passport express system and the online application system; the measures is he taking to deal with the delays; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23889/18]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The turnaround timeframe for a passport application will depend on the channel through which the application is-submitted. The Passport Service provides a range of channels to Irish citizens wishing to apply for a passport. These include a postal application system, an online passport application service and in person counter application facilities in Dublin and Cork.The target turnaround time for applications made via the online passport application service is 10 working days plus postage. The majority of online applications are currently being processed within 5 working days, well ahead of target. The online service currently accommodates adult renewals and passport card applications and it is planned to further extend this service to other categories of renewals by the end of 2018. The average turnaround time for renewal applications submitted through Passport Express is currently on target at 15 working days. Other types of application, which are generally submitted through Passport Express, such as first time applications or applications to replace lost, stolen or damaged passports take longer. Such applications must undergo additional processes including security checks.

The Passport Service is currently in its peak season for passport demand with the vast majority of applications being received between February and August each year. Measures taken by the Passport Service to minimise the impact of peak time application volumes on turnaround times include the recruitment of additional staff and the use of targeted overtime in all Passport Offices for both temporary and permanent staff.

The Passport Service received sanction this year for 220 Temporary Clerical Officers (TCOs) for appointment to the Passport Offices in Dublin and Cork. TCOs are working together with permanent staff to process passport applications and to deal with the high number of enquiries being made through the Passport Service’s various customer service channels.

The number of Full Time Equivalent staff permanently employed by my Department and assigned to the Passport Service stood at 322 at the beginning of the year. This compares to 310 Full Time Equivalent staff assigned to the Passport Service at the same point last year. In addition, over 20 additional permanent staff have been assigned to the Passport Service in 2018.

The continuous implementation of service improvements has been central to my Department’s response to increasing application volumes. The Passport Reform Programme is delivering major upgrades to the passport service technology platforms and business processes as well as significant customer service improvements. The online passport application service will continue to make a major contribution to the effective management of high application volumes by allowing existing resources to be more effectively deployed within the Passport Service.

My Department has an extensive communications strategy to promote good practice amongst passport holders when planning to travel abroad. We regularly advise applicants:

- to check the validity of their passport in advance of booking travel;

- to apply at least 6 weeks in advance of their travel plans; and

- if they are eligible adults renewing their passport, to consider the online passport application service.