AN increase in the time it takes to process an Irish passport application at the Irish Embassy in London drew heavy criticism from Irish Post readers frustrated by the service.
Last week The Irish Post reported that applications could take up to seven weeks to process following a surge in the number of British people applying for the document.
The Irish Embassy in London had confirmed that applicants should now allow seven weeks rather than six for their papers to be processed via its Cromwell Road office.
People outraged with the service shared their feelings on social media, with some claiming that they had waited months rather than weeks for their application to be processed.
The Irish Post put our readers’ concerns to the Irish Embassy in London, who replied with the following advice and guidance regarding passport applications:
1 . The online tracking service doesn't show accurate information
The Irish Embassy said...
- The Irish Embassy can confirm that the tracker service is working but there can be delays in updating the tracker, as applications from the UK are not “live” until they are registered by the Passport Service in Ireland.
- It is a centralised system and the information on timescales is primarily for the Passport Express applicants in Ireland. It is not designed for applicants who are based outside of Ireland and Irish citizens in the UK should consider the information to be indicative only.
- We highlight that the most important information for applicants in London is the current processing time and we would continue to encourage people to read the information carefully on our website to avoid misunderstanding the tracker information. We do keep information on the site under review. While the system is devised for Ireland-based applicants, we don’t want to remove it altogether as it still a measure of reassurance to confirm the application has been received.
- Key clarifications for those who do decide to refer to the tracking are on the relevant page can be found here
- Applications often remain at stages one and two for the majority of the process. This does not mean there is a problem with the applications. The remaining stages three to six tend to happen in quick succession at the end of the process.
- The issue date of your passport is a target issue date and not a guaranteed date. It is for the completion of the passport process in Dublin. This does not allow for the time needed for the passport to be delivered to the Passport Office in London or for onward delivery to you.
- We also advise that times scales apply to applications lodged in Ireland through An Post Passport Express service only.
2. I'm waiting for my passport renewal for over eight weeks
The Irish Embassy said…
- We advise on processing times in relation to receipt of/registration of application. However postage times and working days, e.g. bank holidays, can impact on delays
- We do advise that applications are currently taking approximately seven weeks. Every effort is made to keep application times as close to six weeks as possible, but due to a high demand during this peak season, we are currently at seven weeks
- An application might take 10 weeks in cases where the application form has not been completed correctly, or supporting documentation is not provided and more information is needed. First time applicants do require more verification to confirm their identify and entitlement to citizenship
- If you have immediate travel plans, a passport can be renewed in five to 10 days, provided it is submitted at the public counter of the Passport Office, 114A Cromwell Road, London, SW7 4ES, with proof of travel and all necessary documents (listed on the application form notes)
- The Irish Embassy endeavors to have the passport ready prior to travel. We require a minimum of five to 10 working days for this service. The office is open from 9.30am to 4.30pm with a ticket-based service.
3. Response time to emails is long and infrequent at best
The Irish Embassy said…
- This is disappointing to hear but we endeavor to answer emails in a timely manner. We already currently state on our website form where people contact us via email that ‘Email queries will be answered within two working days’
- If this has not been the case then we apologise and ask applicants to bear with us as we try to respond as quickly as possible. It continues to be the best and quickest way to reach out to us.
4. Why can't I get through to the Embassy by phone – my calls go straight to voicemail
The Irish Embassy said…
- The Irish Embassy passport phone service is administered in Dublin and there is no doubt that there have been poor experiences and this is unfortunate and really is far from satisfactory
- The seriously high volume of calls during peak season (over 4,000 per day) means that it can be difficult to respond
- The Passport Service is allocating a significant number of additional staff within the next six weeks to increase the capacity to respond to calls and answer email queries. This should considerably improve the service
- If at all possible we ask people to check the website to see if their question is answered in our Top Passport Questions section or send us an email. We strongly encourage callers to look at the online options – website, email and Twitter (@passportirl) as this will hopefully lead to a quick retrieval of the current information or response.
5. Why is there no fast track passport service in London – only in Liverpool and Glasgow?
The Irish Embassy said…
- Rolling this out in further locations is being explored and once The Irish Embassy is in a position to update on this it will do so
- The Passport Express service allows citizens to submit their passport application in a secure means – and correctly completed passport express applications from Liverpool and Glasgow can be processed in three weeks
- If the application is urgent (the extended seven week period has not passed), then the Passport Office in London can help facilitate a quicker turn around if the individual applies in person at the Passport Office in London. More information can be found here
- A number of innovations and improvements are coming our way as part of the Passport Reform programme, including online renewals for adults, which is expected by early next year. These changes will significantly reduce turnaround times for applications from Irish citizens based in the UK and in other countries.
The Irish Embassy’s top tips:
We strongly recommend that you check your passport is in date and that you allow a six to seven week time frame when applying for a new one
If you have not allowed approximately seven weeks for your application to be processed, then you must present your application in person to the Irish Passport Office in Cromwell Road
Many of your queries can be answered by visiting the Top Passport Questions on the embassy’s website
Current processing times are approximately seven weeks for applications by post through the Passport Office in London
Additional resources have been allocated in Dublin and London to manage what is now the peak demand period for passport applications and also to handle customer calls and email queries.
If you have a query regarding passport applications visit the Irish Embassy in London's website
Irish Passport Office
Embassy of Ireland
114a Cromwell Road
Phone: +44 207 373 4339