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Dublin: 6°C Thursday 26 November 2020

Dublin dad says family holiday in jeopardy due to 'misinformation' and delays getting baby's passport

Neil Curran says he was told different things by An Post and Passport Service.

The wait time for a new passport can be up to 28 working days.
The wait time for a new passport can be up to 28 working days.
Image: samboal

A DUBLIN FAMILY has said they are in danger of missing out on a family holiday because of misinformation and confusion during the passport application process.

The Passport Service said recently that it was hiring an extra 220 people to help deal with a backlog of 70,000 applications, but now one applicant has said he wasn’t clearly informed about wait-periods and may have to cancel a holiday as a result.

Neil Curran was applying for a passport for his new daughter for a family holiday to Spain that is due to begin later this month.

His daughter was born in October last and he sent away for the passport on 8 March, six weeks before the planned departure date.

The six-week time frame came from the homepage of the passport section of the Department of Foreign Affairs website, which says that applicants should leave at least that long before they travel to get their passport.

Neil said that he would have applied for the passport sooner but that his mother was extremely ill and that it “kind of took a back seat”.

Even then, he said he wasn’t worried because he’d checked the website and it said he had enough time.

passport weeks Source: DFA

Applications for a new passport can be made through An Post and Neil said that he went to his local post office to send off all his paperwork.

While there, Neil told TheJournal.ie that he double-checked with the staff who were working to make sure he had the 19 working days that is usually required for a passport.

I said to her, ‘do you mind if we count out the days before I give you the forms so we know whether I can do it this way or I could go into the Passport Office?’ She helped me count out the days and taking account of bank holidays we had a week to two weeks grace.

Neil said that a couple of weeks later he went online to check on the process of the application and found that it gave him an estimated date of issue of 23 April, four days after his planned departure.

After being unable to speak to anyone in the Passport Service by telephone, he said he waited 79 minutes to speak to someone via webchat.

He was then told that because his daughter was a first-time applicant it would take longer to get the passport, something he wasn’t told when he was making the application.

He raised this but was told that applicants cannot go by what they are told in post offices. This is despite post offices being official agents for passport applications.

“I said it to her about the post office quoting me 19 working days and she wasn’t having any of it, saying you can’t go by the dates of the post office. And I said they’re your agents, they’re acting on your behalf,” Neil explains.

He then asked would it instead be possible to make an application in person in the Dublin Passport Office as part of the pilot dual application scheme.

Again, he was told that because it was a first-time application this would not be possible.

Written off

“We’re due to travel late this week, and we’;ve basically written it off,” he says.

“And from a personal circumstances perspective, not withstanding what my mother and all went through, my wife is self-employed. So while it’s easy for my boss to change the dates for my holiday, the dates for her, because she’s self-employed we don’t have an alternate, that’s two weeks she’s not working.”

“It’s not like we can just take two weeks when we get the passport because she’s self-employed, she has to plan her job.!

Neil was told by the Passport Service that he was “misinformed at the post office” and that there’s nothing that can be done beyond noting the date of his holiday.

He was told: ”Children’s first time applications do take longer as all the documentation needs to be validated and checked. At this time, all that I can do is note the dates of travel to your application.”

Neil says that the 28 working days rule for new passports is mentioned in the FAQ section of the website but is not “up front and centre” like the six weeks advice.

The frustrating this is that time was always on my side and the fact that I went into the post office to count out the days, so I wasn’t informed as a citizen and a consumer. It’s not like I just decided two weeks before to apply for the passport. I made those conscious choices.

“My parents spend most of the year out there, my mother hasn’t spent quality time with my daughter because she had a brain aneurysm and hasn’t been able to. So this is kinda the time for the family to be away from it all. I know it doesn’t justify it ahead of anyone else but it just adds to the trip.”

In the post

In a statement, the Department of Foreign Affairs said that applicants can check what the turnaround time is for all categories of applications and that it is currently at a target 15 days for renewals and 23 days for new applications.

It added that the number of passport applications is currently rising as it approaches “peak season”.

“However it is important to note that there is not a backlog of 70,000 applications. These numbers reflect passports going through routine checking, processing and security stages, in the usual way,” the department stated.

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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