Brexit aids surge in Irish passport applications
Government says UK’s exit from the bloc has ‘undoubtedly’ influenced spike in demand
The Department of Foreign Affairs has appealed to people to renew passports online.
The UK’s exit from the European Union next year has “undoubtedly” contributed to a 25 per cent spike in applications for Irish passports, the Department of Foreign Affairs has said.
The number of applications in the first four months of this year has increased by 25 per cent when compared with the figures for the same period in 2016.
The department said the Passport Office, which falls under its remit, was currently experiencing “peak season”, adding that the number of applications received is up by 10 per cent compared with last year, continuing a recent trend.
Each year, the Passport Office recruits additional temporary staff to assist with the seasonal increase in applications. This year, sanction was received for 220 temporary clerical officers to assist permanent staff in processing applications.
“The increase in the volume of applications is undoubtedly in part influenced by Brexit-related demand, with around 10 per cent of all applications this year from applicants living in Great Britain,” the department said in response to queries.
“However, there are also other drivers of demand, including a trend towards early renewal of passports, a growth in outbound travel, and a growing population.”
As of the end of April, more than 276,000 passports had been issued since the turn of the year. In the same period, 39,000 passport applications were received from applicants residing in Northern Ireland, and more than 41,000 were received from applicants residing in Britain.
The department said that in addition to taking on temporary staff, the Passport Office was working to improve services, including plans to expand the online renewal project, as part of its response to increasing application volumes.
It said individuals seeking to renew their passport should do so online, as waiting times for this service had been reduced significantly in recent years.
“Adults renewing their passports are strongly encouraged to renew their passport online,” it said. “The online passport application service is fast, convenient and secure, and is processing applications in 10 working days, plus postage time.
“In fact, in 50 per cent of cases, the processing time is currently down to five working days.
“Applicants can apply from anywhere in the world, with no need for a paper form, witness or printed photos. Renewal applications received through Passport Express are currently processed in 16 working days.”
It also said that applications from first-time applicants, as well as from those with lost/stolen passports, take longer to process.
“For these categories of applications, robust identity verification and entitlement checks, as well as vital fraud and security procedures, are necessary to ensure that the integrity and security of the Irish passport is maintained,” it said. “These checks take additional time to complete.”