Sunday 19 August 2018

Passport delay leads to panic as demand soars following Brexit

“The passport has just arrived but it shouldn’t have come to this..."

Cliona Fanning with her children Katie (9),Jamie (7) and Maggie (12). Katie was waiting two months for her passport. Photo: Kyran O'Brien
Cliona Fanning with her children Katie (9),Jamie (7) and Maggie (12). Katie was waiting two months for her passport. Photo: Kyran O'Brien

Laura Lynott

Irish passport applications have jumped by 25pc since the Brexit referendum, so holidaymakers are being advised to renew their travel documents in sufficient time.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said the peak season for the passport service has arrived – but pointed out demand is up by 25pc since June 2016, when the UK voted to leave Europe.

“The total number of applications received during the first four months of this year is up by 10pc on the same period last year and by 25pc compared to two years ago,” a representative said.

“There are several drivers of demand, including a trend towards early renewal of passports, a growth in outbound travel, and a growing population.”

Cliona Fanning, from north Dublin (pictured above), feared her family might lose a holiday to the US when they had to wait almost two months for her daughter’s renewal to be processed.

But at the 11th hour and after almost two months’ waiting, her nine-year-old daughter Katie’s passport finally arrived just before the bank holiday weekend.

“The passport has just arrived but it shouldn’t have come to this, it’s been almost two months,” Ms Fanning told the Irish Independent.

“We feel huge relief but the stress of this has been incredible. Now we have it we can finally enjoy our holiday but this shouldn’t have happened and we want to warn others.”

Ms Fanning said she applied to renew her daughter’s passport at the same time as booking the trip to the US and well in advance of the holiday date, Tuesday, June 5.

Ms Fanning ordered the renewal on April 10 and said she was told by An Post staff it would take around 15 working days to be processed.

The mother-of-three double checked online when ordering the renewal and it also stated 15 days.

Ms Fanning believes there’s a “huge backlog” in the system.

Besides her lengthy wait, another sign of a delay was being stuck on a communication loop for weeks just to arrange the renewal.

“I went into the Passport Service and said we fly next week.  I became so frantic about the trip, I asked to apply for an emergency passport. They said we couldn’t as we had an application in the system,” she said.

“We were really running out of time.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs said they would not comment on individual cases.

They recommended that adults renewing their passports should renew them online.

“The online passport application service is processing applications in 10 working days, plus postage time,” a representative said.

“In 50pc of cases, the processing time is currently down to five working days, so applicants are getting their passport in under 10 working days (plus postage time). Renewal applications received through Passport Express are currently processed in 16 working days.”

However, on its website the Passport Service advises all applicants to submit their applications at least six weeks before their intended date of travel.

The office recruits extra temporary staff to assist with seasonal increases and this year it took on 220 temporary clerical officers.

Read more:

Ireland's new online passport service: Everything you need to know

Irish Independent

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