Thursday, 16 November 2023
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
74. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the extent to which the processing of passports has been upgraded to meet the requirements of applicants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50503/23]
The Passport Service is successfully meeting high demand for passports and has issued over 880,000 passports to date in 2023. Between 2,000 and 3,000 passports are being issued every day. All turnaround times are at or ahead of target and there are no backlogs. More than half of simple adult renewals issue within two working days or less.
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.
In April 2023, the Passport Service carried out a number of upgrades to the Passport Online portal to improve the user experience for citizens.
These enhancements allow for the information provided by first time online applicants to generate a custom coversheet that will provide them with a bespoke list, in plain English, of the documents that they must submit as part of their application. This has resulted in a 25% decrease in the number of first time applications rejected because they did not include all required documents.
Another feature of the upgrade allows the Passport Service to access General Register Office (GRO) birth records. This integration benefits a significant cohort of first time child applicants who are born in Ireland. These applicants are no longer required to submit a physical birth certificate as these are now received digitally from GRO. This reduces errors, increases security and creates efficiencies for both the PPS and the citizen.
An Eircode look-up tool has been added to the Passport Online portal. This has streamlined user experience when inputting applicant’s mailing address and helped to minimise the potential for address-related errors.
The Passport Service has been shortlisted for an Irish CX Impact Award 2023 for the ‘Online Enhancements’ project in the Government and Public Sector category. These awards recognise achievements in measuring and managing Customer Experience excellence.
Passport Online has been rolled out for first time applicants to an additional 170 countries in 2023. This means that Passport Online can now be used by 99.9% of all passport applicants worldwide. Over 90% of citizens now apply online.
Currently, 100% of calls to the Customer Service Hub are being answered and customers can easily access the information they need through the Hub. The Customer Service Hub responds to an average of 10,000 queries per week.
The Passport Service was recently placed 18th out of 150 public-facing organisations in a survey conducted by the Customer Experience (CX) group. This ranking recognised the Passport Service as the best customer service brand in the public sector.
The Customer Service Hub in the Passport Service was shortlisted for the “Best Customer Service Team” award at the 2023 Customer Experience Awards. The nomination recognised the ability of the Passport Service to deal with the high volume of calls and webchats received to date in 2023, while also ensuring high levels of customer service.
The number of same-day public counter appointments in Mount Street, Dublin 2 has increased by 50% since 2022 to 165 appointments available weekly during peak times.
The Passport Service continues to be in an excellent position to meet the demand forecast for the remainder of this year. I would ask the Deputy to encourage his constituents to apply online for the quickest, cheapest and most efficient service.