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Processing of online passport applications will resume next week

Tánaiste Simon Coveney said the Passport Office processed 6,000 applications during the Covid-19 emergency.

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THE PASSPORT OFFICE will resume the processing of online passport applications from next week, according to the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney.

The Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) sought clarity this week for their customers in relation to passport applications and renewals from the Department of Foreign Affairs.

The Passport Office is currently not accepting any applications for normal passport renewals, and is only processing emergency passports.

Speaking in the Dáil this afternoon, Coveney said the “Passport Office is at an advanced stage of planning for the return to full operation”.

Next week, processing online applications will start, he confirmed.

He said staff at the passport office have processed 6,000 online renewal applications during the Covid-19 crisis.

These represent about 20% of all applications currently in the system.

The minister added that some of the staff at the office were re-deployed to other areas during the crisis, with some taking part in contact tracing.

Operations will resume to normal in the coming weeks and months, said the minister, who indicated that online services should resume normal turnaround times of about two weeks by Phase 3 in July.

Coveney encouraged people to apply online, stating that it is by far the quickest way of getting your passport renewed. Those that have applied through the paper application can call the office, he said. 

A member of staff will talk those members of the public through making an online application and a refund for the paper renewal will be made.

He said the passport express system has not been operating, but he hopes to get it back up and running again in the coming weeks.

If someone has applied through the passport express service, they are also encouraged to apply online and their express fee will be refunded.

Non-essential travel abroad is still not advised, said Coveney. Those that go abroad will be asked to quarantine for two weeks upon their return, said the minister. Mandatory quarantine is still not in place, though it is illegal for passengers to refuse to sign the passenger locator form.

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Travel restriction guidelines are being kept under review, added the Tánaiste.

Under Phase 5 of the opening-up of the country, there will be an opportunity for members of the public “to take a well earned break” in late July and August, said Coveney. 

He said the pace of moving forward restrictions will only be done if it is safe.

Coveney said that in the first four months of the year, Ireland changed its travel advice 1,400 times.

He described this figure as “extraordinary” as “normally in a whole year you wouldn’t get that number. I think it’s a reminder of how quickly things were changing.”

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