Written answers

Thursday, 18 November 2021

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Foreign Birth Registration

Photo of Rose Conway-WalshRose Conway-Walsh (Mayo, Sinn Fein)
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21. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the steps that are being taken to rectify some of the impact the disruption to the operation of the foreign birth register during Covid-19 has had on applicants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56529/21]

Photo of Simon CoveneySimon Coveney (Cork South Central, Fine Gael)
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I am pleased to inform the Deputy that as of Monday, 15th November, the processing of Foreign Birth Registration resumed on a phased basis. My Department is fully committed to allocating additional resources over the coming weeks and months to assist with processing of the high volume of applications anticipated and the current level of applications on hand. There are currently 32,000 Foreign Birth Registration applications on hand with the Passport Service.

Throughout the pandemic, the Foreign Birth Registration Service considered all urgent requests to expedite an application on a case by case basis, in cases such as expectant parents, or stateless persons. Over 5,000 emergency Foreign Birth Registration applications have been processed in 2021.

Demand for Foreign Birth Registration services reached unprecedented levels following the Brexit referendum in 2016. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the processing time for Foreign Birth Registration applications stood at 18 months.

This processing time is due to the unprecedented peak in applications as a result of Brexit and to the rigorous validation both of identity and citizenship status which experienced staff at the Passport Service apply to all citizenship applications.

I am confident that the phased reopening of Foreign Birth Registration services will see improvements in the experience of applicants for citizenship and a return to pre-pandemic processing times. I want to express appreciation for the work of the Foreign Birth Registration teams in assisting in the provision of urgent passport and contact tracing services during the pandemic. So far this year, those teams have operated both an urgent Foreign Birth Registration service and assisted in the delivery of over 500,000 passports as part of our expanded essential passport services operation.

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