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Child passport applications will no longer be cancelled if witnessing garda can’t be contacted

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Passport applications for children will no longer be cancelled if the witnessing garda cannot be contacted, the Fine Gael parliamentary party has been told.

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney also told party colleagues the number of people working in the passport office will be increased from 60 at present to 140 in two weeks.

In an email to TDs Mr Coveney said a new agreement was struck earlier today with the Gardaí on witnessing first-time child applications.

He said around 50 applications a day are stalled and need new consent forms because of the inability to contact the witnessing Garda around the country. Only three attempts are made to contact the relevant Garda.

Nearly 200,000 people are waiting for delayed passport applications, with even more applications rejected with the Department of Foreign Affairs blaming incorrect documentation and some prospective travellers left waiting for months for their documents.

First-time passports, for which a garda had to certify the identify of a child in person, were posing particular problems when the garda could not be contacted by Passport Office staff to check the documentation.

“From now on, a daily list will be transmitted between the passport office and Garda management of the circa 50 cases where contact hasn’t been made and the contact will then be initiated on the Garda side, meaning the application won’t be cancelled,” Mr Coveney said.

“Our Passport Service is seeing record demand, beating the previous busiest year (2019) by almost 20pc. 560,000 passports have been issued to date in 2022. This is 90,000 more passports than were issued at this point of the year in 2019.

“Last week, the Passport Service issued an average of 7,000 passports a day. This is a 40pc increase in the number of passports being issued on a daily basis in recent weeks.”

He said 80pc of applications received by the Passport Service are renewal applications for both adults and children and 99pc of these are issued within the standard turnaround time and almost half of all adults who renew their passports online will receive their new passport in the post within two working days.

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Mr Coveney noted that in the UK processing time is now at 10 weeks and in the United States people are waiting between eight and 11 weeks for a passport. These turnaround times are for both renewals and first time passports. In France, the waiting time is 14 weeks for a passport.


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