Wednesday, 3 March 2021

Questions (359)

Cian O'Callaghan

Question:

359. Deputy Cian O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the number of pending foreign birth registrations; the current processing time; the steps he is taking to make the process more efficient; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11290/21]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The Foreign Births Service is currently paused while Ireland is at Level 5 restrictions of the National Framework for Living with COVID-19. Approximately 27,000 applications are awaiting processing. These are being held securely until the FBR service Is resume at Level 3 of the Framework.

FBR, by its nature, can be a detailed and complex process, often involving official documentation related to three generations and issued by several jurisdictions. The Passport Service has taken steps in recent years to make the processing of applications more efficient. For example the application form has been simplified with clearer instructions in plain English for applicants. This has resulted in fewer mistakes in received application forms and also fewer incomplete applications received which both significantly contribute to delays in processing times.

The FBR process will continue to see efficiencies as part of the ongoing Passport Reform project which will deliver major upgrades to the Passport Service technology platforms, and business processes as well as significant customer service improvements.

The impact of Brexit on the number of FBR applications has been significant. In 2014, approximately 10,000 applications were received. In 2019, approximately 32,000 were received. Applicants resident in Great Britain account for around half of all applications. Due to this increased volume of applications and prior to the current pause in the FBR service, applications were taking twelve to eighteen months to be processed. However, in light of the current pause, the turnaround period is likely to exceed eighteen months.

Additional resources are planned to be allocated once the FBR service is resumed to reduce the turnaround period to less than six months by the end of the year.