Passport Service suspends almost all operations due to Covid-19

Backlog of up to eight weeks expected when service resumes

The Passport Service is dealing  with emergency and urgent essential cases only  during Level 5 restrictions. Photograph: Alan Betson

The Passport Service is dealing with emergency and urgent essential cases only during Level 5 restrictions. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

Hopeful holidaymakers could face delays of up to two months in securing a passport after Level 5 Covid-19 restrictions are lifted due to the suspension of the service.

The Passport Service has “paused” processing of routine applications, the Department of Foreign Affairs has said, dealing with emergency and urgent essential cases only. The suspension will continue for the duration of the current restrictions, with normal services resuming when the Government decides to move to Level 4 or lower.

“Under Level 5 of the National Framework for Living with Covid-19, only essential work should be undertaken,” the department said.

The Passport Service continues to offer a “same-day service” for emergencies such as people travelling abroad due to bereavement, illness or for medical treatment.

“We also offer a weekly urgent service for Irish citizens resident overseas who require a passport for local immigration purposes.” In such cases, applicants should contact their local Irish Embassy or Consulate General.

In general, adult renewals for work purposes were also facilitated on a weekly basis where a letter from the employer was provided, it said.

People seeking passports online were informed of the pause in the service by email within 24 hours of making an application “and advised not to submit their supporting documentation until we are at Level 4 or lower”, the department said.

Personal data

While the routine Passport Online service did not involve face-to-face interaction with applicants, it did require staff to attend the office to process the applications, the department said. “Passport Service staff do not have access to private, personal data when working outside of our secure offices and so cannot process passport applications remotely.”

Passport Online applications would be the first to be processed once the restrictions were lifted, it said.

The Passport Service was also suspended during last year’s lockdown periods. When the service resumed last June, the backlog was cleared in about one month, the department said, while in December the service resumed for three weeks and “the majority” of applications were processed. However, the department expects delays of six to eight weeks this time due to high volumes of applications.

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