Fianna Fáil TD for Cork North West, Aindrias Moynihan has called for swift action to tackle the ongoing issue of lengthy processing times for first-time passport applications.
Deputy Moynihan, who questioned the Minister for Foreign Affairs on the issue in the Dáil last week, commented, “We are coming to the point where many families are looking to book holidays abroad this year, and while parents may have their own passports already up to date, for their children, who do not have one yet, the process is proving agonisingly slow.
“With the recent relaxing of Covid restrictions, more and more people will need to get passports for the first time, however the passport office is currently experiencing high demand for first time passports.
“I’m calling on the Minister to direct as much resourcing as possible to address the problem and reduce the turnaround time on first-time passport applications.”
The Cork North West TD added: “Whilst it is positive that the Cork Passport Office is finally back open by appointment, additional staff are urgently needed to to deal with the extensive number of applications for this year. Currently, there are 2,591 complete online passport applications on hand with the Passport Service for Cork. The Minister needs to address the issue as soon as possible.”
In response to Deputy Moynihan’s questions, the Minister stated that when processing a first-time application, the Passport Service must validate the identity of the applicant and confirm their entitlement to Irish citizenship.
In the case of first-time passport applications for children, the consent of guardians must also be checked. This ensures that the Passport Service protects the rights of the child and their guardians.
Due to the rigorous checking process in place, the processing time for first time applications is currently 40 working days. This compares to 10 working days for simple adult online renewals and 15 working days for complex and child online renewals.
When passport applicants do not provide all of the required documentation to the Passport Service, unfortunately, it can take much longer to process the application and issue a passport. There are currently 73,000 first time applications on hand with the Passport Service. Of these, 32,000 or 43% are incomplete applications. In these cases, the onus is on the applicants to submit required documentation to complete the application so that their passport can be issued. The experience of the Passport Service is that it can take weeks and sometimes months to receive the necessary documents after an applicant applies online.
The Minister added that it is a priority for the Passport Service to improve processing times for first time applicants in 2022. The ongoing staff recruitment drive and upskilling of existing staff will greatly assist with this. There are also a number of system and website improvements being implemented that will help to enhance customer experience.