Wednesday, 4 May 2022
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
With regard to the specific application about which the Deputy has enquired, the Passport Service has contacted the applicant's parent to provide an update on the status of the passport application.
224. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the progress to date in the determination of applications for passports in the case of siblings (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21716/22]
228. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade when a passport will be dispatched for a minor (details supplied); and when the passport of their parent will be returned; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21769/22]
231. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will provide an update on a passport application by a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21810/22]
233. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if a passport for a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will be dispatched in time for their travel plans; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21920/22]
236. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade when a passport card will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Mayo in view of the fact that this application was received in the passport office on 11 February 2022. [21948/22]
241. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if a passport that is waiting to be printed will issue in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21997/22]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 224, 226, 227, 228, 229, 230, 231, 233, 236, 241, 244 and 245 together.
With regard to the specific applications about which the Deputies have enquired, the Passport Service has issued passports to the applicants.
225. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the progress to date in the determination of an application for a passport in the case of a person (details supplied); and when the passport is likely to issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21721/22]
With regard to the specific application about which the Deputy has enquired, this application is currently being reviewed by the Passport Service. The Passport Service is in direct contact with the applicant in relation to the application.
232. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will initiate discussions with the aim of establishing a passport office in the north-west in view of the previous Governments designation of Letterkenny, Derry and Strabane as a city region (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21918/22]
The Passport Service of my Department is a unified service composed of three constituent offices located in Lower Mount Street and Balbriggan in Dublin and South Mall in Cork, respectively. Passport applications from all citizens - whether at home or abroad - are distributed for processing across the three Passport Offices, on the basis of the type of application rather than county or country of residence of the applicant.
Over 90% of all passport applications, including first time applications, are now being made through Passport Online. The Passport Service is committed to continuing to offer a range of application channels, including an offline service for citizens who are not eligible or do not wish to use the Passport Online service.
Passport Online is the priority channel for applications as there are many efficiencies built into the system for both the applicant and the Passport Service. Passport Online can be accessed by all first time applicants, both children and adults, in Ireland, Northern Ireland, Great Britain, Europe, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the USA, South Africa, Singapore, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Mauritius, Lesotho, Colombia, Panama, Chile, Peru and Ecuador. All Irish citizens, including children, can use the online system to renew their passports from anywhere in the world. 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.
The paper-based, mail-in "Passport Express" service is available to citizens at almost 1,000 An Post post offices and at over 70 post office locations in Northern Ireland. With the availability of both Passport Online and Passport Express very few applicants are required to travel a significant distance in order to apply for their passport. In the relatively small number of cases where citizens need to travel urgently and do not have a valid passport, the Passport Offices in Dublin and Cork offer an Urgent Appointment service for passport renewal with a 1 or 4-day turnaround.
The Passport Service currently operates three passport printing machines, two of which are located in the main production facility in Balbriggan and the third in the Passport Office in Lower Mount Street, Dublin. All production facilities can print a passport, irrespective of the channel through which the application is processed. The printing system allows for flexibility between printing machines if any one machine has reached capacity. Each passport printer has a printing capacity of 250 passports per hour. I am satisfied that the printing capacity of production equipment currently employed by the Passport Service is sufficient to meet the current and anticipated future demand for passports.
In addition, the Passport Service is currently working on public education materials, including video tutorials, with a view to assisting applicants to complete their application correctly. These videos will be shared on social media and will include instructions on submitting consent forms for child applications properly. My Department has also recently updated its website, including a new Passport Service section where applicants can easily find out with documents are required for their type of application.
I am satisfied overall that the range of service options meets the current needs of passport applicants and that the service improvements, both those recently introduced as well as those planned, allow the Passport Service to provide this essential citizen service in an efficient and effective manner.
234. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will provide an update on a passport application by a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21942/22]
With regard to the specific application about which the Deputy has enquired, the Passport Service regrets the delay in processing this application. The Passport Service is prioritising the application to ensure no further delay is experienced.
237. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will amend the passport consent form to indicate that it cannot be witnessed by a Garda in a partially manned Garda station in view of the fact that the hours of opening for the Garda station may not be the same as the hours that Passport Office staff work and this is causing delays in applications being progressed as the witness signatures cannot be verified during normal office hours; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21957/22]
There are certain passport applications for applicants resident in Ireland that require forms to be witnessed by a member of An Garda Síochána. These applications include:
- All Passport Express applications - Section 9 Certificate of Identity
- First time adult online applications - Identity Verification Form
- First time child online applications - Child Passport Identity and Consent Form (Guardian A)
The witnessing of these forms is a vital element of the identity verification process for the Passport Service, as it provides initial assurance that the person in the photograph is the same person presenting to submit the passport application form.
In the case of an application for a minor the witnessing of this form provides evidence that guardians give consent for a passport to be issued to the child. In order to protect the integrity of the Irish passport and also the rights of parents or guardians and children, it is important that forms are correctly completed and verified by the Passport Service by calling the Garda station to confirm the Garda's signature.
It is stated in a note to the witness on the Identity and Consent forms that they may be contacted to confirm the validity of their signature. It is the responsibility of the witnessing Garda to ensure that the signature is correctly recorded in the logbook, so that when the Passport Service calls at a later date the signature can be verified.
There are cases where the Passport Service has difficulty contacting a Garda station in order to verify the Garda's signature. Whilst the Passport Service makes every effort to contact the Garda station in these cases, unfortunately, the passport application may be delayed. In some cases, the applicant may be requested to submit a new witnessed form where the Passport Service has been unable to contact the Garda station. A new document management system that was put in place at the beginning of March is ensuring that these applications which require further documents are being turned around within 15 working days of receipt of the additional documents.
The Passport Service takes its responsibility to protect the integrity of the Irish passport very seriously. The Irish passport has a strong international reputation due to the strength of the security features within the passport book and the robust processes involved in its issuance. The Irish passport was recently ranked 5th in the Henley Global Passport Index as it provides our citizens with visa-free access to 187 countries.
There are no plans at present to amend the process for the witnessing of Identity and Consent forms by An Garda Síochána.
238. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the reason that the estimated issue date on the passport tracker can be different from the live estimated issue date for applications (details supplied) and in particular for one specific application; if he plans to address the inaccuracies with the passport tracker; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21958/22]
The online Passport Tracker tool provides applicants with an indication of how their application is progressing through the system and gives an estimated issue date based on the current average application processing time.
The date displayed on the tracker is an estimate, and is based on the current average processing time for that type of application. For a small number of applications currently in the Passport Service system, the issue by date displayed on the tracker differs from the issue by date on the Passport Service internal processing system by one to three days. The cause of this issue has been identified by the Passport Service and they are working to rectify it.
The Passport Service regrets any inconvenience caused to applicants who have been affected. The Passport Service has contacted the applicant referred to by the Deputy and provided a status update on their passport application.