Passport renewal service to go online next month

The rollout of an online adult passport renewal service will start next month.

It is one of a number of significant customer service improvements being made at a time when the Passport Service is coming under post-Brexit pressure.

Passport applications from Britain were up 71% last month, compared to the same period last year, while applications from the North were up 77%.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said there had been a “significant increase” in demand for passports in recent months.

“While we do not compile information on why citizens apply for passports, it is reasonable to assume, based on the trends in applications from Northern Ireland and Great Britain, that the outcome of the UK referendum on EU membership is one of the factors that has led to an increase in demand,” the department stated.

There was a 13% increase in outbound travel last year, compared to 2015. A large number of Irish people went overseas for the European Football Championship and a spike in applications in 2006 caused a surge in renewals a decade later.

The Passport Service issued a record number of passports last year. More than 730,000 passports were issued, a 9% increase on 2015.

Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan said that increased demand for passports was likely to continue unabated.

“In the short term, to respond to the growth in demand, the Passport Service is recruiting over 230 temporary clerical officers, over half of which are already in place,” he said.

Mr Flanagan advised people to submit their applications in plenty of time to avoid disappointment or disruption to their travel plans.

At least six weeks before the intended date of the trip was recommended.

Among Passport Service customer service enhancements being introduced are an online application tracking service and a web-chat social media service.

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