Thursday, 2 December 2021
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
68. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the reason a passport application by a person (details supplied) was cancelled; the attempts made to verify the witness signature; the dates the checking was carried out; the number of working days this occurred after receipt of the application and after receipt of the supporting documents; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [59572/21]
First time passport applications are necessarily complex to process, since they are essentially applications for Irish citizenship. The Passport Service must validate the true identity of the applicant and take measures to confirm the applicant’s entitlement to Irish citizenship.
In the case of first time passport applications for children, the consent of all guardians must also be thoroughly validated. Verification of consent of all guardians is vital to protecting the integrity of the passport itself and the rights of the child and its guardians.
Passport applications are valid for six months for a number of reasons including International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) regulations on the requirement for a recent photograph. The ICAO is a UN specialised agency which defines in detail the required format for a passport. This timeframe also ensures that a refund of the fees can be processed electronically where required. If the refund is not made electronically within six months then it can take up to 12 months to process a refund by bank transfer.
With regard the specific application about which the Deputy is enquiring, the online application was received by the Passport Service on 6 June 2021. The supporting documents required to complete the application were received by the Passport Service more than three months later on 13 September 2021. This meant that the completed passport application was not submitted until 13 September 2021. As a result the passport processing could not commence until the fully completed application was received. The completed passport application was reviewed on 12 November 2021, 42 working days after the supporting documents were received.
As part of this process a member of Passport Service staff called both witnesses to the parents' signatures on the Child Identity and Consent Form on 12 November 2021. Unfortunately, neither witness was available when called and the passport application had come to the point where it was close to expiration. At that stage, as there was insufficient time available within the 6 month validity period to request, receive and process a new Child Identity and Consent form, the application was cancelled.
The Passport Service is currently reviewing the cancellation process with a view to improving customer experience.
The passport fee has been refunded in this case and I encourage the applicant's parents to re-apply for their child's passport again, ensuring all documentation is submitted immediately and that that witnesses to the parents' consent are fully contactable.