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Express passport still takes 15 days to process

THE waiting time for passports remains at a peak of 15 days -- despite Government promises to reduce it.

An influx of applications for the August bank holiday weekend was the cause of an increase in passport waiting times this week, the Department of Foreign Affairs has said.

Holidaymakers were making a last-minute scramble for their passports and had to wait 14-15 days for Passport Express.

At the start of the summer, the passport service was receiving an unprecedented demand of 4,200 applications per day.

And recently applications rose from an average of 2,300 to over 3,000 a day.

In mid-July an Oireachtas committee said the problem was likely to be resolved within two weeks.

The committee, chaired by Fine Gael TD Pat Breen, said a passport application was taking 14 days to process down from 21 when the delays were at their height and would return to 10 days by the end of July.

But yesterday a spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs told the Herald that the increased demand would be dealt for another week.

"Due to an influx of passport applications for the August bank holiday weekend and requests from recently naturalised Irish citizens there has been a temporary increase to 14-15 days in the processing times for Passport Express.

"However, the Passport Service expects to have dealt with this temporary increase in the coming week."

The Passport Service has also informed An Post so that customers can be advised of the situation at the point of application, the spokesperson added.

The Department of Foreign Affairs has warned passport applicants to apply early.

"As is usual from the start of the summer, the Passport Service takes on additional temporary staff to help deal with summer peak demand period.

"However, the level of demand in 2011 has been unprecedented, in particular for passports at short notice."