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Passport backlog cut but expect two-week hold-up

THE backlog in the passport office has halved since June -- but customers are still waiting over two weeks in some cases to have their paperwork issued.

There were 31,833 passports awaiting processing yesterday according to the Department of Foreign Affairs, whereas last June there were more than 68,000 passports in the queue.

While the queue of passports has been reduced by 36,000 during the peak summer season, the office is receiving 2,500 applications per day.

Fifty temporary clerical officers were recruited to help tackle the high demand in recent months, since a strike threat in March sparked a rise in applications and a subsequent backlog.

A spokesperson for the department told the Herald yesterday: "There has been a substantial reduction in the backlog of passport applications.

"The number of applications in the system yesterday was 31,833. This has fallen from a summer high of 68,014 on June 17," he added.


The turnaround time for passport applications submitted through the Passport Express Service is currently running between 10 and 15 days.

But it is expected that a faster turnaround time will be available before the end of this month, according to the spokesperson.

Those with immediate travel plans are being dealt with through a priority service.

Public demand for passports has been 13.8pc higher than last year.

In late May, there were 62,008 passport applications in the system, which Foreign Affairs Minister Micheal Martin said were a direct result of industrial action by the union.

Mr Martin has said he did not believe that emigration was a major factor in the increase.

The requirement to retain the posts of the 50 temporary staff, or a reduced number, for a further period, is to be reviewed by the Labour Relations Commission in September.