Ready for some relief this summer? There are no delays at all in passport returns!

'There are no application backlogs and all turnaround times are on target,' the Passport Office said. Photo: Getty

Senan Molony

Now for the good news – passport renewals are being turned around at record speeds after the chronic delays experienced last year.

The Passport Service says it is meeting the current high demand for passports: “There are no application backlogs and all turnaround times are at target level.”

The situation has transformed since last year, when delays of six weeks were commonplace and worried holidaymakers told of hours on hold as they desperately dialled into passport hotlines.

As summer breaks out all over the country in soaring temperatures, the reminder as always is to check the validity of your family passports if you are preparing to go overseas.

Over 460,000 passports have been issued so far in 2023, and just under 1.1 million are expected to be issued this year.

More than half of all simple adult renewals issue “within two working days”, says the Passport Service after the number of handlers was increased by half from 600 to 900 by the end of 2022.

“Passport Express” has been renamed “Post Passport” because its title was misleading people into thinking it was a prompt service. It fact, some of the longest delays occurred in this area last year.

Passport Online is now the easiest, quickest and cheapest way to apply for a passport, the service says. Over 90pc of all passport applications are now submitted online by citizens, both in Ireland and abroad.

A child renewal or a complex adult renewal can still take up to 15 working days however, with a first-time application taking up to 20 working days because of the need to check details supplied.

Passport Card applications, increasingly popular because they are wallet and purse friendly, are taking just three to five working days from request to delivery.

But Post Passport, via An Post, is still taking eight weeks for either an adult or child. The service promises however, that applications for which additional documents are requested will be processed in 15 working days.

“Applications which are incomplete or require further supporting documents from the applicant can take longer,” a spokeswoman says.

“Very complex or sensitive cases that may involve citizenship, guardianship or legal issues and which require very thorough examination by experienced staff can also take longer to process.”

Last year, more than 200,000 applicants experienced undue delays because of pressures on an understaffed system – including a huge jump in British post-Brexit applications.

Last year, 95,000 Irish passport applications were received from applicants born in Britain – or 8pc of all applications received in 2022.

This pressure has slightly eased this year, while the increased number of staff means there have been no unexpected delays at all in 2023.

New upgrades to Ireland’s Passport Online service include an Eircode look-up tool and a facility for the Passport Service to access General Register Office (GRO) birth records digitally.

The GRO integration means many first-time child applicants born and registered in Ireland can be validated without the need to submit physical birth certificates. Over 5,600 birth records have been digitally retrieved this month.

The Department of Foreign Affairs says ongoing staff recruitment at the Passport Service means it does not expect to see a repeat of the lengthy delays experienced in 2022.

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