Passport numbers again hit record levels
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Brian Cowen T.D., today announced that the number of passports issued so far this year is at yet another record level.
Passport numbers continue to increase
• The number of passports issued by the Passport Offices in Dublin and Cork to end July was over 326,000.
• This represents an increase of 5% on 2002 levels.
• July was the busiest month ever, with more than 65,000 passports being issued. This represents an increase of 3,000 on the corresponding figure for July 2002 which had been the busiest month up to then.
• It is expected that the total number of passports issued by the two Passport Offices and missions abroad during 2003 will be in the region of 530,000.
Making the announcement, the Minister said “I would like to thank the staff of the Passport Offices for their commitment and performance in meeting deadlines in what, so far, has been yet another record year for the number of passports issued".
Minister Cowen welcomed the fact that over 70% of all passport applicants in the State now use the Passport Express service, whereby, passport applicants can apply for a passport at over 1,000 Post Offices throughout the country and normally be assured of receiving their passport within 10 working days. Since Passport Express was introduced in 1995 the number of applications submitted through this service has doubled. He went on to say that “the partnership between the Passport Office and An Post had worked very well and, where possible, passport applicants should use Passport Express which is the most efficient and convenient method of applying for a passport".
The Minister also took the opportunity to remind persons intending to travel abroad to check that their passport is in date, and if not, or if they do not hold one, to apply for one well ahead of their trip.
Swiftpost service in Northern Ireland and Great Britain
• The Minister recalled that in March of this year a similar scheme of swiftpost passport application commenced in Northern Ireland, England and Scotland for a 6 month trial period. The operation of the scheme which is operated by Post Office Limited from 5 post offices in Northern Ireland, and one each in England and Scotland will be reviewed in September. The response of the public to the new service has very encouraging (for example, between March and July, 6,500 people in Northern Ireland availed of this service). It is hoped that, following the review, the service will be extended to more Post Offices across Northern Ireland. (It is currently available at the Post Offices at Castle Place and the Kennedy Centre in Belfast and in Derry, Enniskillen, Newry and also in Liverpool and Glasgow).
Passport Office Project
• The Minister also said that “customer service will be further improved during the coming years as a major project to improve the passport issuing process of the Passport Office is completed in 2004. This project will deliver a world-class passport system that meets the highest standards of security, efficiency and customer service”.