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Delays in processing passport applications a serious issue, Varadkar says

The comments were made during Fine Gael’s parliamentary party meeting.

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Those who apply for a new passport are facing long delays (Brian Lawless/PA)

Those who apply for a new passport are facing long delays (Brian Lawless/PA)

Those who apply for a new passport are facing long delays (Brian Lawless/PA)

Tanaiste Leo Varadkar has told TDs that the delays to processing passport applications was “a very serious issue”.

Mr Varadkar also said that if 40% of passport forms had been filled out incorrectly or were incomplete, then it was an issue with the forms and not the applicants.

The comments were made during the Fine Gael parliamentary party, it is understood.

Mr Varadkar said the processing and issuing of passports “remains a major issue” for first-time applicants.

Members of the parliamentary party aired concerns relayed to them by their constituents about delays in their application for a passport.

Those who apply for a new passport are facing long delays as more people travel abroad this year after restrictions are lifted following the end of the emergency phase of the Covid-19 pandemic.

On Tuesday, Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said the huge demand for passports as people began to travel abroad again has led to “pressure on the system”, particularly for first-time passport applications.

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He said that double the number of staff would be working in the Passport Office this summer in order to cope with demand – and that more staff would be allocated to the various passport customer service options available to members of the public.

He also said that delays were mostly among people applying for first-time passports.

Mr Coveney said: “When people are renewing their passports, they will get their passport renewed within 10 days, but actually 43% of those applications get a renewal within 48 hours.

“First-time passports do take longer, they take about 30 days.”

The minister added that 43% of those applying for first-time passports had problems in how they had filled out their application form.

“We need to get better at communicating what the public need to do so that we can reduce the error rate.”

He said that the demand for passports has dramatically increased this year to date.

“This year, we’ll probably deal with 1.4 million passports. The highest number ever before this year was just over 900,000.

“So we’re talking about in the space of one year increasing passport applications by about 50%.”

It was announced that the Passport Express service will now be renamed Post Passport, following calls from Fine Gael TD Emer Higgins for a new name that does not mislead applicants about the turnaround time associated with postal applications.

A Dáil debate about the passport application delays is due to take place on Thursday afternoon.


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