Record-breaking year for Irish passports as 822,000 issued
Applications from England, Scotland and Wales up by more than a fifth since 2017
Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said 2018 was a record-breaking year with a total of 822,581 travel documents issued. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien
Brexit contributed to almost 190,000 Irish passport applications being received from the UK in 2018, in a record-breaking year for the Passport Service.
The number of applications from England, Scotland and Wales increased by 22 per cent to 98,544, when compared with 2017, the Department of Foreign Affairs said. This accounted for 12 per cent of the 855,283 passport applications in 2018.
The number of Northern Irish residents applying for Irish passports rose by 2 per cent to 84,855.
Overall, 822,581 passports were issued this year.
Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said the number of passport applications had risen since the Brexit vote in June 2016.
He said extra staff were required for the Passport Service as a further surge in applications was anticipated in 2019, especially in the context of a no deal Brexit.
An expansion of the Online Renewal Passport Service now allows all Irish citizens to renew their passport online.
This service has cut costs and reduced turnaround times to 10 working days, excluding postage delivery, with applicants no longer needing to have their photos witnessed by a Garda, the Department of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.
The oldest online applicant for an Irish passport this year was 99 years old while the youngest was two weeks old.
Mr Coveney said it was important the Passport Service use technology to “deliver the best possible service to the citizen”.
With over 7,000 passports reported lost or stolen annually, the Tánaiste also reminded citizens to look after their documents.
“The Irish passport is a valuable document. My department continues to strengthen all processes to prevent fraud and maintain its integrity and security. I strongly encourage all citizens to take due care with their passport at home and when travelling. Citizens may also wish to consider applying for the convenient credit-card sized Passport Card.”
During peak periods, more than 6,500 applications were submitted on a single day.
Dublin had the highest number of applicants of any Irish county, with close to 45,000 people looking for new passports. This was followed by Cork, which had 14,632 and Kildare with 7,364.
Requests for Irish passports were received by embassies across the world. The Irish embassy in New York accepted 4,520 submissions while Canberra in Australia and Pretoria in South Africa were almost as busy, with 3,920 and 3,368 applications received respectively.
Conor and Emma were the most popular names of 2018, based on Irish passport applications for infants.