Lengthy delays in passport turnaround will not be repeated, department hopes

One million Irish passports expected to be issued this year for the first time

The Department of Foreign Affairs is “very hopeful” it will avoid a repeat of lengthy waiting times for people applying for passports seen earlier this year, a senior official has said.

Colm Ó Floinn, director general of the department’s citizen services division, said officials expected to issue more than one million passports this year for the first time in history.

Speaking on Wednesday, the senior department official said efforts had been made to improve turnaround times amid delays earlier this year, following the resumption of international travel after the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We’re very hopeful that we are going to be able to avoid the kind of very difficult situation we had earlier in the year,” Mr Ó Floinn said.


“Passport applications are well above their pre-pandemic level now and we’re going to have a very significant event fairly soon, where we will for the first time issue a million passports,” he said.

Mr Ó Floinn was speaking on Wednesday at a department forum discussing consular services and overseas travel.

Latest figures show the department’s passport office has issued more than 940,000 passports so far this year, a 17 per cent increase in demand compared to 2019.

The department has said turnaround times for people applying for passports for the first time have improved in recent months, down from a waiting time of 40 working days in March to 20 working days currently. For adult passport renewals made online 84 per cent of applications are processed within three working days or less.

Delays in the department issuing passports earlier this year had been heavily criticised by both Government and Opposition TDs.

The department has “had to” increase the number of staff working in its consular service and the passport office, Mr Ó Floinn said. He added the increased complexity of consular cases in recent years was “really striking”.

Last year the department provided consular assistance in more than 200 cases where Irish people died abroad, and more than 100 instances where Irish citizens were arrested overseas.

Speaking during a later panel talk, Paul Hackett of Irish Travel Agents’ Association, said passport office delays had caused “serious issues” for the tourism sector this summer.

Mr Hackett said while Dublin Airport had also effectively “shut down for a day”, he criticised the media for overplaying the problems of lengthy queues at the airport earlier in the year.

Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is acting Europe Correspondent of The Irish Times