The Passport Office continually examines how to improve its processes and turnaround times, including examining the process for the submission and verification of supporting documentation. Preparation is currently underway for several system and service improvements that will enhance the customer service experience and will improve processing times. These improvements will be rolled out in early 2022.
My Department has been actively working with the Public Appointments Service to recruit permanent and temporary staff between now and the end of January 2022. This recruitment drive is well underway and will double the number of staff in the Passport Service from June 2021 levels to a total of 920 staff by the end of January.
These staff members are currently being trained and assigned across all areas of the Passport Service, including to the teams who handle the registration, verification and scanning of the supporting documents required to complete a passport application. This can be a time-consuming process depending on the complexity of the application and the origin of the supporting documents. The rigorous verification of supporting documents is a critical measure to protect the integrity of the Irish passport.
I am confident that the additional staff currently being assigned to the Passport Service will help to reduce turnaround times and to respond to the current and anticipated high demand for passports in 2022.