The dramatic new surge in applications for passports over the last eight weeks “could result in people’s travel plans being wrecked” with waiting times for passport processing expected to increase.
This is the warning from Independent Galway West TD Noel Grealish, who said the number of applications being processed by the Passport Office this week had soared to 50,000, up from 16,000 on the last day in January. January itself saw numbers up by one-third to more than 70,000 for the whole month - an increase of 17,500, compared to the same month last year.
Dep Grealish is advising Galwegians planning to travel abroad in the coming months “not to leave it too late “to check that their passports are in date. He said that there was a minimum three-week wait at present for renewals, with first-time applicants facing a wait of more than four weeks — and the waiting times were growing.
“I have just received notification from the Department of Foreign Affairs that the passport office is at this moment processing 50,000 applications for new passports or renewals, when on January 31 I was informed the number being processed at that point in time was 16,000,” he said. “It’s important that anyone with a passport check if it’s in date, or approaching expiry — remember many countries demand you have at least six months to run on your passport before they will let you in.”
Among the reasons for the increases were Brexit, with applications from Northern Ireland and Britain up by about 75 per cent last month. There was also an increase in US applications following the election of Donald Trump as president.
The Department of Foreign Affairs has confirming the employment of 230 staff on a temporary basis to help handle the extra business.