With up to a fourfold increase in passport applications projected for 2022, people looking to go abroad this summer should submit applications as soon as possible in order to avoid disruptions to travel plans, a Fine Gael Senator has said.
Tipperary Senator Garret Ahearn said, “In 2020, 450,000 passports were issued. In 2019, which is probably the best barometer, 900,000 passports were issued. However, this year it is expected that between 1.3 million and 1.7 million passports will be delivered.
“The majority of passport applications are processed in January and February each year, and it’s likely that even more will be processed in the first quarter of 2022 on the back of the easing of restrictions and the Government advice on applying for passports.
“People need to be made aware of the phenomenal demand out there for passports at the moment due to the closure of the Passport Office during the pandemic. Speaking to staff in my local Garda station and post office at the weekend, I heard how the level of demand has never been higher.
“There are many children born during the pandemic who have never had a passport. As families plan holidays over the coming months, I would encourage parents of first time applicants in particular to act immediately in order to get ahead of the curve.
“The quickest and easiest way of applying for a passport is to submit your application online. Applying online can be up to four times quicker than applying via post. But whatever method you decide on, make sure you submit your application today.
“Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has responded to the surge in demand by increasing staff in the Passport Office by 300, from 600 to 900. While this is a 50% increase in staff, it is expected the Office will experience a threefold or even fourfold increase in applications.
“The appointment of the additional staff must happen immediately, and staffing levels need to be kept under review with the possibility of hiring even more workers if needed. We should also look at introducing a seven-day rather than a five-day roster system in the Passport Office.
“The speedy and efficient processing of passports is a vital component of a successful reopening of society and the economy. This issue must be treated as an emergency in the coming months to ensure everyone who wants a passport can get one in time so that we can support the aviation industry and travel agencies and get back to normality,” concluded Senator Ahearn.