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Passport Applications

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 21 March 2017

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Ceisteanna (596)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

596. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the average waiting time for Passport Express applications; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13507/17]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

There is currently a very high volume of Passport applications in the system (over 60,000) and applications for the month of February ran at over 20% higher than the same month last year. Up to 16 March a total of 191,428 applications were received compared to a total of 155,163 for the same period in 2016. The turnaround times for the each category of applicant are updated weekly on the Passport Service website. The average processing time for renewal applications submitted through Passport Express is currently 16 working days (our aim is a 15 working day turnaround). First time applicants or those with lost/stolen passports take longer because of additional anti-fraud measures and these applications are being processed in an average of 23 working days (our aim is a 20 working day turnaround).

We are working extremely hard to manage the ongoing surge in passport applications. A total of 230 Temporary Clerical Officers (TCOs) have been assigned to the Passport Service to assist with the processing of passport applications and respond to customer queries. The majority of the TCOs are now in place. I am continuing to closely monitor the situation.

As a matter of best practice, the Passport Service advises customers to apply at least six weeks prior to travelling and to submit their application through Passport Express if they have no immediate travel plans. There are a limited number of appointments available at the Passport Offices in Dublin and Cork for those travelling in three weeks or less. These appointments can be made online.

The Passport Office offers a free email reminder service to Passport holders whose passports are due for renewal and I would urge the Deputy to promote use of this facility where possible. See: https://www.dfa.ie/passports-citizenship/top-passport-questions/when-should-i-apply-for-a-new-passport/

We are also engaged in a major programme of passport service reform which will result in greater efficiencies for applicants. I expect to make further announcements on this matter in the near future.

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