The Irish Passport Office is to digitise the passport renewal process, confirming that, from early 2017, it will be possible to process applications entirely online.
Under the current system established by the Department of Foreign Affairs, Irish passport renewals can only be processed by dealing directly with the Irish Passport Office or through the post office.
However, a surge in passport applications from people living outside Ireland following the UK’s decision to leave the EU has encouraged the department to reduce paperwork and streamline the renewal process.
Confirming with The Irish Times, the Department of Foreign Affairs said the online renewal process will be funded by an €18.6m allocation awarded to it following Budget 2016, with plans to introduce the online process in the first quarter of 2017.
Of the above allotted amount, €4m was to be made available to the Passport Office to help it modernise its service and to allow for changes like the ability to apply for renewals online.
Surge in passport applications
The service will become fully operational sometime in the early part of 2019 with two request-for-tender notices issued to companies to build a system for the department.
Currently, over half of all applications made to the Passport Office are made by citizens looking to renew their passports, while passport applications overall have increased by 12.5pc this year when compared to the same time in 2015.
In the months preceding and following the Brexit vote in the UK, applications made by citizens of Great Britain to obtain Irish passports increased by up to 27.6pc in some months, with 31,707 applications made so far this year.
Meanwhile, the Passport Office is continuing to look into rolling out further technological updates to its service, particularly when it comes to limiting the effects of passport fraud, which the Department of Foreign Affairs raised concerns about last month.
Irish passport image via Shutterstock