Wednesday, 2 March 2022
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
110. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade when the passport office will fully reopen in line with operations pre-March 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11812/22]
Since late January, all Passport Service sites in Dublin and Cork have been operating at full capacity following the ending of many Covid-19 public health restrictions, and all services have fully resumed as they were in place before the pandemic.
The Passport Offices in Mount St, Dublin 2 and in Cork offer an Urgent Appointment Service for the renewal of passports. This service was launched in Dublin on 27 September 2021 and in Cork on 26 October 2021. The Passport Office in London launched its Urgent Appointment Service on 1 March.
The Urgent Appointment Service replaced the Rapid Renewal Service and customers availing of this service can renew their passport within 1 or 4 days in Dublin, within 4 days in Cork and within 5 days in London. In February, the Passport Service increased the number of appointments at its public offices by 100%, providing an extra 170 appointments per week.
The Passport Online service offers Irish citizens the ability to apply online for their passport 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is a user-friendly, efficient service that consistently offers processing times up to 4 times faster than paper-based passport renewal applications. Over 90% of all passport applications are received through Passport Online.
All Irish citizens, including children, can use the online system to renew their passports from anywhere in the world. Passport Online can also be accessed by first time applicants, irrespective of age in Ireland, Northern Ireland, Great Britain, Europe, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the USA.
There are currently over 160,000 applications in the Passport Service system. While there is a very high volume of applications in the system, this does not represent a backlog. These applications are all being processed in the usual way, with a continuous stream of new applications and a continuous dispatch of completed passports happening every day.
Figures show that of the total number of applications in the system, 57% are fully complete and are being processed by the Passport Service. The other 43% of applications in the system are incomplete, which means the Passport Service is waiting for the applicant to submit the necessary documentation required. While the Passport Service makes every effort to contact applicants in such circumstances, their experience is that many applicants take weeks and sometimes months to send in the necessary documents.
Currently, 45% of adult online renewal applications are processed in one working day, while 99% of online child renewal passports are issued within the advertised processing time of 15 working days.
My Department has been pro-actively planning to ensure the necessary resources are in place to meet the current and expected level of demand in 2022 and is making an unprecedented investment in the Passport Service in terms of additional staff and improvements to the passport processing and customer service systems.
I strongly urge anyone who is considering travelling overseas this year, particularly families with young children, to check the validity of their passports before booking travel and to apply for their passports online in plenty of time.
111. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will examine and expedite the passport application by a person (details supplied);; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11848/22]
With regard to the specific application about which the Deputy has enquired, the Passport Service has sent a resubmission link to the applicant's parent and has contacted the applicant's parent directly to provide an update on the status of the passport application.
113. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if a passport application by a person (details supplied) will be examined and expedited; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11903/22]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 112 and 113 together.
With regard to the specific applications about which the Deputies have enquired, the Passport Service has provided an update on the status of the passport applications to the applicants.
My Department is responsible for citizenship by descent through the Foreign Births Register under the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended.
The processing of Foreign Birth Registration has resumed and will be gradually scaling up in line with the recruitment of additional resources. Due to the complex nature of the Foreign Birth Registration process, the large increase in applications received following the Brexit vote in the UK, and the pause in the Service due to necessary Covid-19 restrictions, applicants should allow approximately 2 years from the receipt of supporting documentation for processing of Foreign Birth Registration applications at this time. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, and the subsequent reassignment of Foreign Birth Registration staff to assist in the provision of essential passport services, the Foreign Birth Registration Service was paused for nearly 15 months across the 2020-2021 period.
The application of the father in this case was registered on 8 April 2020, and is due to be processed in the near future. A member of the FBR team will be in contact with the applicant shortly in this regard. The applications of the children were received on 29 September 2020, and are being stored in a secure environment.
The FBR service operates a transparent general policy of processing applications in order of receipt. FBR staff continue to provide an emergency service for Foreign Birth Registration in cases of exceptional urgency, such as expectant parents, or stateless persons. Such applicants may continue to contact the Passport Service directly.
My Department is fully committed to the continued allocation of additional resources over the coming period to assist with the processing of the Foreign Birth Registration applications currently on hand and the high volume of new applications anticipated this year.