To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the current waiting times for the passport express service
Question No. 1
Parliamentary Question - Oireachtas
To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the current waiting times for the passport express service; if the waiting times have been extended due to the volume of applicants; the number of passports currently awaiting to be dispatched in the passport express service; the number of passports that have not been issued within the usual 15 day deadline; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
- Darragh O'Brien.
The Passport Express service operated in partnership with An Post offers a target turnaround time of fifteen working days from posting for correctly completed passport renewal applications. I would like to underline that this is a target turnaround time and not a stated guarantee. First time passport applications take longer as the identity of the person as well as their entitlement to citizenship have to be established.
As of the 23rd May, compared to the same period last year, demand is up by 13% which is exceptional. There were over 68,200 passport applications being processed on the same date.
In the case of Passport Express renewal applications, which account for around 90% of all applications in the state, correctly completed applications are currently being processed within the target issue date at 13-14 working days.
Applications from Northern Ireland and first time applications are taking up to 25 working days. Passport Service staff are currently working overtime to reduce and minimize delays.
A total of 223 Temporary Clerical Officers have been recruited so far this year which is an increase of 52 officers on last year. In view of the sustained increase in applications over last year processing work has been redistributed across passport offices in recent months and staff re-deployed from other areas of the Department as needed to respond to the increased workload. The Passport Service will continue to closely monitor the situation to ensure the effective deployment of staff resources.
The indications so far are that this year will see a significant increase in outbound travel from Ireland. The Central Statics Office (CSO) states the total number of overseas trips made by Irish residents during the period January – March 2016 increased by 13.1% over the same period last year. The trend is positive in economic terms and it points to a vibrant travel industry but it will put sustained pressure on our Passport Service.
Over half of all applications for passports are received in the busy season between April and July and the pattern is the same this year so it is more important than ever that people apply early.
I strongly recommend that citizens check their passport validity before booking holidays or business travel and apply for the service which will ensure passports arrive in good time. The key points for citizens, are to:
check the validity of passports before booking a holiday,
to remind that children’s passports vary in length of validity
follow best practice and apply at least six weeks before the intended date of travel
choose the most appropriate application channel depending on the date of travel
if travelling in three weeks or more (15 working days) the Passport Express channel is the cheapest and most convenient option.
if travelling in three weeks or less an appointment for the Passport Office in Dublin or Cork should be made online at www.passportappointments.ie