Thursday, 24 March 2022
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
157. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if his attention has been drawn to the widespread difficulties parents are experiencing with consent forms for children’s first-time passports being rejected due to incorrect dates; the changes he plans to bring forward to remedy this; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14986/22]
Under Section 14(1) of the Passports Act 2008, the consent of a child’s guardian(s) must be given before the Passport Service can issue them a passport.
In order to protect the integrity of the Irish passport and the rights of the child and their guardian(s), it is important that the Child Identity and Consent form is correctly completed and validated by the Passport Service for both first time and renewal applications for children.
The Passport Service monitors and seeks to improve issues that arise for applicants during the online and paper based passport application process. Passport Service statistics show that approximately 33% of first time child applications are incomplete. A significant proportion of those incomplete applications occur when parents have not submitted any documentation to the Passport Service. In these cases, parents apply online for their child’s passport and can take weeks or sometimes even months to submit the required supporting documents such as the witnessed consent form and child’s identity documents such as their birth certificate. The Passport Service is unable to process these applications until the required supporting documentation is submitted.
The Passport Service is continuously looking at ways to make the application process easier for child applicants and advises during the online application process to make sure that the consent form is correctly witnessed once they have completed the online process. It is not the experience of the Passport Service that incorrect dates on the Child Identity and Consent form is a widespread issue.
The Passport Service provides instructions on how to correctly complete these forms on the Department's website (www.dfa.ie/passports/how-to-get-your-application-witnessed/).
The Passport Service is also working on public education materials, including video tutorials, with a view to assisting applicants to complete their application correctly. These materials will include information on correctly completing the Child Identity and Consent form.
In addition to this, the Passport Service maintains a close working relationship with An Garda Síochána and regularly offers training and guidance to Gardaí on the correct completion of the required identity and consent forms.
The Passport Service has recently implemented a new document management system that will help reduce processing time for applications that are incomplete when initially submitted. One particular feature of the new system improves the processing time for applicants who have been asked to submit additional documents. Once the additional documents are received, they are prioritised and where applications are complete can now be processed in 3 weeks. This significantly reduces the processing time, particularly for first time applicants.
I am confident that these measures will help to reduce errors on applications and will improve customer experience.