Complaints to passport office hit record high as main reason for delays revealed

A record number of complaints have been made about the Passport Service over lengthy delays in new applications and renewals.

More than 4,000 complaints were received by the Ombudsman in 2021 – up 17% on the previous year – with most of the issues centred on first-time applications.

A record 1.4 million passport applications are expected this year and some of the delays are down to people having issues with the form-filling process, says a new Ombudsman report.

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Failing to submit information and incorrect photographs are among the main causes of delay, although Dublin TD Emer Higgins told RTE Radio One that witness signatures were the “big issue”.

Four out of 10 applicants “hit a hurdle” in the process, she said.

Deputy Higgins said: “The garda signature might have the wrong date on it or it mightn’t correspond with the log book.

“To be honest, I think this is something that we can really tighten up on if we invest in technology. I don’t see why we can’t do this electronically.”

The Ombudsman stated their understanding is that the Passport Service operations were severely disrupted by the Covid pandemic.

They added: “This, coupled with a pent-up demand for passports and a surge in applications following Brexit placed pressure on the service.

“We understand that the Department is recruiting additional staff to deal with the surge in demand and to clear the backlog.”

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