Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Ceisteanna (50)

Aindrias Moynihan

Ceist:

50. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the turnaround time for passport applications; the number of persons waiting to have passport applications processed through the Passport Office; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21111/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

The turnaround timeframe for a passport application will depend, in the first instance, on the channel through which the application was submitted. The Passport Service provides a range of channels to Irish citizens wishing to apply for a passport. These include a postal application system, online passport application service, in person counter application facilities in Dublin and Cork and the network of Irish Missions worldwide.

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 highest proportion of applications are submitted through the An Post Passport Express postal channel. 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.

Measures taken by the Passport Service to minimise the impact of peak time application volumes on turnaround times for all categories of applications include the recruitment of additional staff and the use of targeted overtime for all Passport Offices.

The Passport Service received sanction this year for 220 Temporary Clerical Officers (TCOs) for appointment to the Passport Offices in Dublin and Cork. All TCOs in this intake have been fully trained and placed since March. These 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. Targeted overtime was also sanctioned for both temporary and permanent staff in the Dublin and Cork offices to help deal with high application volumes.

My Department has an extensive communication strategy to promote good practice amongst passport holders when planning to travel abroad. We regularly advise applicants of 3 golden rules:

- to check the validity of the passports in advance of booking travel;

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

- for eligible adults renewing their passport to consider the Online Passport Renewal Service passport application online facility, which is a fast, secure way for adults renewing their passport.