The Government will tomorrow unveil a new online passport renewal service which, it hopes, will ease the pressure it is currently under in the face of unprecedented levels of applications.
Between January 1 and March 16 this year, a total of 191,428 applications were received compared to 155,163 for the same period last year. That is an increase of more than 23%.
As of last week, there were 60,000 applications in the system.
The passport service has taken on 230 temporary clerical officers to help with processing the applications and responding to customer queries. It has also asked the Public Appointments Service to assign additional clerical and executive officers to fill recent vacancies.
The Online Passport Application Service, to be unveiled by Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan tomorrow, will allow adult Irish citizens renew their passport books and cards online from wherever they are in the world using their PCs, tablets, or mobile phones via the department’s website.
“The service will be convenient, secure, and it will offer faster and more predictable turnaround times,” said the department.
“This new service is for adult (over-18) renewal applications only. First-time applicants and children will not be able to apply online and the current system will still be in place for them.”
Brexit and an ability to travel abroad thanks to a resurgence in people’s finances have contributed to the increase in passport applications. The 733,060 passports issued in 2016 marks a 9% increase on the previous year.
As recently as the middle of last year, there was a target turnaround of 10 days for those applications submitted in person at the passport offices in Dublin and Cork, and through the An Post Passport Express service.
However, according to Mr Flanagan: “The average processing time for renewal applications submitted through Passport Express is currently 16 working days (our aim is a 15-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).”
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