Passport applications containing errors are no longer being sent back to the start of the queue, according to the head of the Passport Service.
It comes after the service announced several measures aimed at tackling major processing backlogs in the service.
Firstly, the service is set to more than double the number of staff members answering calls in its customer service hub.
Secondly, a new system is being rolled out for Garda certification that will ensure that, where the office can’t contact witnessing garda, the query will be passed on to Garda Management for processing.
On The Pat Kenny Show this morning, Siobhan Byrne, Director of Passport Services at the Department of Foreign Affairs, said the office has already 540,000 this year – 855 of the total processed last year.
She said online remains the most efficient way to apply – with renewals taking 10 days for adults and 15 days for children.
She said applications containing errors are no longer sent back to the start of the queue.
“If you have to submit a new photograph that’s actually processed quite quickly but if you need to submit new documentation, that can take a little bit longer,” she said.
“We've really improved the processing times for such applications. It was the case a couple of months ago that you did return to the start of the queue but that’s not the case anymore.
“Those applications now get turned around in 15 days regardless of the type of application it is.”
Ms Byrne said website system that checks passport photos as they are submitted is not capable of checking them to the same level as a human.
As a result, it’s essential that people “take great care when taking their photograph” -
“While we make every effort to verify that the photograph is correct, the online site can’t replicate what a human can see on a photograph or deduce from a photograph,” she said.
“Sometimes there may be extensive shadow on a photograph or very often we see situations where people will stand in front of tiles for the photo.
“It is very important they have a plain background, that there’s very good lighting, that their face is clear, that their hair is away from their face and so on.”
Ms Byrne said the Passport Office is performing a ‘balancing act’ when it comes to detailing staff to the customer service hub.
“We have to balance it off in terms of how many people we have on our customer service hub answering the calls and how many people we have processing the passports.
“I think everyone will agree that the priority has to be processing the passports and getting as many passports as we can into our customer’s hands to allow them to travel.
“But it is also important that we communicate with our customers and we fully accept that. That’s why we’re doubling the number of staff we would have in our customer service hub in the next couple of weeks.”
She insisted the office is “taking on staff all the time”, noting that companies all over the world are struggling to find workers.
“The staffing challenge is not unique to ourselves, the public service or even our country,” she said.
“It is an international problem at the moment but we are increasing our staff in that area, so we currently have people working within our customer service hub and we hope to double that within the next two weeks.”
Late last month it was revealed that almost 200,000 people were waiting for their passport applications to be processed.
You can find out all you need to know about speeding up your passport application here.