FG TD: Rename 'Passport Express' as it is not the fastest way to apply

FG TD: Rename 'Passport Express' as it is not the fastest way to apply

There are currently 195,000 passport applications in the Passport Service system but this 'does not represent a backlog' according to Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney.

The Passport Express system should be renamed "so that it is clear to customers that it is not the fastest method of application", a Government TD has said.

The Department of Foreign Affairs currently advises that the Passport Express postal option has an eight-week turnaround time for first-time applications, compared to online renewals at 30 working days.

Fine Gael's Emer Higgins said people are under the impression that the Passport Express system is the fastest way of obtaining a passport, but this is not the case as children's passports are taking up to 40 days to be issued. 

She said she has raised the issue with Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney.

“Every week my office is still encountering people who have applied for their passport through the Passport Express method because they understandably think that the name implies it must be the fastest method, but it is not," she said.

Fine Gael TD Emer Higgins said that using the Passport Express system, children's passports are taking up to 40 days to be issued. Picture: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Fine Gael TD Emer Higgins said that using the Passport Express system, children's passports are taking up to 40 days to be issued. Picture: Niall Carson/PA Wire

“This is an issue I raised a couple of months ago and I know that An Post and Mr Coveney have been engaging on it but we need to see it being changed as soon as possible to avoid the ongoing confusion that we are encountering among the public.

“The turnaround time for standard passport online renewals is between 10-15 days, but when you apply through Passport Express this turnaround time jumps to eight weeks because it takes much longer to process a physical application and all the physical documents,” added Ms Higgins.

Children’s first-time passports are taking around 40 days because they come with additional complications due to the need to verify parent/guardianship and other factors but applying for your child’s first-time passport through Passport Express will exacerbate this further.

Mr Coveney has responded to a number of parliamentary questions on the issue and it will be debated in the Dáil on Thursday. 

He told Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy that the Passport Service "continues to examine areas to increase internal efficiencies and improve the customer experience through the Passport Reform Programme".

Technology upgrades

He said that over the next three years, a number of internal changes and upgrades to the technology around passport operations will take place.

"The central project of the passport reform programme is the replacement of the current processing system with new, enhanced, core technology that will bring greater resilience, agility, and capacity to passport-processing systems," said Mr Coveney.

"In advance of the new processing system coming into operation, a series of enhancements will also be made to the online application system. 

These enhancements will aim to assist customers applying for their passports by providing them with a list of documents required specific to their application type, which will assist in reducing application errors.

There are currently 195,000 passport applications in the Passport Service system but this "does not represent a backlog", he added.

"These applications are all being processed in the usual way, with a continuous stream of new applications and a continuous dispatch of completed passports happening every day."

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