Passport backlog at five weeks

 

The waiting time for a passport has increased by five working days, with more than 64,000 applications currently in the backlog.

An Post has withdrawn its 10 day turnaround guarantee for processing applications through the "Passport Express" service.

Members of the public are facing serious delays in getting their passports renewed, with applications sent in via this method now taking approximately five weeks to process.

Customers are still being charged €8.50 for the "Passport Express" service despite the removal of the turnaround guarantee. However, this service remains faster than submitting applications via normal post, which will take approximately eight weeks to process, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs.

The Passport Office is receiving just under 4,000 applications a day, according to a spokeswoman at the Department, who said a surge in applications was contributing to a backlog.

Some 64,519 passport applications are currently in the backlog, accounting for a tenth of applications received annually. While the backlog has decreased from 69,400 applications at the end of April, the processing time has increased.

A number of temporary staff started work at the Passport Office in Dublin this week in an attempt to alleviate the backlog, but are still being trained. Passport office staff voted to accept a deal to allow the recruitment of 50 temporary clerical officers last week.

Passport delivery through “Passport Express” service normally takes 10 working days but the turnabout time is now 25 working days according to the Department of Foreign Affairs. Applications submitted at the Passport Office counters are also said to take 25 working days.

The lengthy delay in the processing of passports has led to a number of problems for applicants with many people missing holidays or having to reschedule plans and flights.

One infuriated applicant, Philip Purcell from Rathfarnham, was unable to go on a holiday to Sicily last week due to the delays.

"The Passport Office advised us not to submit an application via 'Passport Express', but to come into the office instead and bring proof of our impending travel plans, he said adding: “the passport application was sitting in the Passport Office for close to four weeks before it was processed”.

Mr Purcell said he was “hopping mad” that the backlog resulting from a work-to-rule by Passport Office staff had meant his application was not processed in time for his vacation.

"The flights for the trip cost €450 and the hotel cost €1,100. We were lucky enough to be able to reschedule the fights at a cost of €180 but we lost the total amount paid for the hotel," he said.