Passport applications have more than trebled over the last month, Tánaiste Micheál Martin has said. Mr Martin said 2023 will be another busy year for the Passport Service, with 61,000 passports issued so far this year.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs said passport applications have increased from an average of 1,400 per day in December to almost 5,000 per day in recent weeks.
Mr Martin was answering questions on passport applications from Sinn Féin TD John Brady and Independent TD Richard O’Donoghue in the Dáil on Tuesday night.
Mr Brady said 2022 had been “an unmitigated disaster” when it came to the handling and the issuing of passports with “many families unfortunately missing out on their holidays due to chronic delays with the issuing of their passports”.
The Wicklow TD asked the Tánaiste what lessons had been learned from 2022 and what actions had been put in place “so we don’t see a repeat of the scenes from last year”.
Mr Martin said last year had been “an exceptionally busy year” for the Passport Service, with over 1.08 million passports issued.
He said this was the first time in the history of the State over a million passports were issued in a calendar year and 2022 surpassed the previous busiest year of 2019 when 935,000 were issued.
“2023 is set to be a similarly busy year; in recent weeks there has been a marked increase in applications received, signifying that the next busy season for passports is commencing,” Mr Martin said.
“Applications have increased from an average of 1,400 per day in December to almost 5,000 per day in recent weeks. The majority of online renewal applications are currently being processed in three working days or less.”
The Tánaiste said there were 56,000 fully completed applications in the Passport Service’s system, including 10,700 paper applications. He said these were not considered “outstanding” and were being processed in line with normal turnaround times.
Mr Martin said substantial improvements had been made to the Passport Service in 2022 due to Government investment and there were now 732 staff working in the service, the largest ever number employed.
He said staffing was kept under constant review while a new office space in Balbriggan had opened to accommodate the additional employees.
The Tánaiste added that the Passport Service customer service hub saw a record 2,615 calls answered on Monday, January 23rd.
He said more than 90 per cent of applicants now apply through Passport Online and that it was four times faster than its paper-based equivalent for adult and child renewal applications.