Thursday, 8 February 2018
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Departmental Staff Recruitment
116. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if additional staff will be recruited for the passport office to try to minimise delays in the processing and issuing of passports; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6593/18]
The number of Full Time Equivalent (FTE) staff permanently employed by my Department and currently assigned to the Passport Service is 322. In addition, the Passport Service has received sanction for 210 Temporary Clerical Officers (TCOs) this year to respond to the seasonal demand for passports, which is normally between February and September annually. Training for the first intake of TCOs has already commenced, with all expected to be in place and fully trained at latest by the end of March.
While the volume of incoming applications is currently increasing, the turnaround time for applications submitted through the Passport Express postal service for all categories of applicant (first-time applications, renewal applications and applications for renewal of lost, stolen or damaged passports) remains on target at 15 working days.
The new, award-winning Online Passport Renewal Service was launched in March 2017 and offers adult Irish citizens the convenience of an online application system 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from anywhere in the world, without the need for application forms, printed photos or witnesses. Current turnaround times for this service are below ten working days plus postage. Over 125,000 passport applications have been made through the online system since its launch. As take-up of the Online Passport Renewal Service continues to increase, it should enable further efficiencies in the Passport Service and thereby contribute to reducing pressure on other application channels.
All parts of the Passport Service are monitored closely on an ongoing basis to ensure they are sufficiently resourced to meet demand.