Plan is to enable on-line renewals from anywhere in world
Adults wishing to renew their Irish passports online could be able to do so by as early as 2017, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has said.
The aim is to continue to utilise the technology which resulted in the introduction of the Passport Card in 2015. It comes as part of a Reform Programme, which is scheduled to run from this year to 2018, whereby adults will be able to renew their passports online from anywhere in the world.
Over half of all passport applications received annually are from adults wishing to renew their passports. This has led to the Irish government making the online option one of the first tangible outcomes of the reform programme.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charles Flanagan, has expressed his commitment to the implementation of an innovation agenda in the Passport Office. Following a surge in passport applications – thought to be related, in part, to the outcome of the UK’s EU referendum – Mr Flanagan is keen to ensure that the Passport Office adapts to the situation.
The current turnaround time for passport renewals from the UK is seven weeks, while first time applicants are advised to allow at least two months for processing.
“Already this year 580,000 passports have been issued, up 8.7 per cent on the same period last year,” he said.
“As demand for passports continues to grow, I want to ensure that our Passport Service continues to deliver the very highest levels of customer service and to maintain the integrity and excellent international standing of the Irish passport.”
He explained how, following the success of the Passport Card, he hopes that people will embrace any new online system.
The Brexit vote has also seen an increase in first-time applicants from the UK and Mr Flanagan added that any new technology would be specifically catered for their needs.
“I intend to introduce new, worldclass technologies to radically re-shape how Irish passports are delivered over the next three years and €4 million has been secured in Budget 2016 to achieve this goal,” he said. “Last week I announced the activation of our Passport Card project, part of our citizen-focussed modernisation plan. Over 6,000 Passport Cards were applied for in the first week.
“The next phase of modernisation will include a more streamlined passport applications system, a facility for online renewals, a stronger focus on first-time applicants and tightening up even further against any attempts at passport-related fraud.
“It will also ensure a more seamless and consistent service for Irish citizens wherever they apply for a passport around the world.”
While adults should be able to renew their passports online by the start of 2017, it is hoped that all applicant types will benefit by early 2019.