Local people have been urged to get their passports sorted now if they are planning to travel later this year as demand continues to rise.
SDLP Councillor Shauna Cusack has urged people to take a moment to check their own and their own and their children’s passports are up to date and in a safe place, or in need of renewal.
Colr. Cusack said: “At this time of year, to combat the winter blues, our thoughts often turn to planning and booking Spring or Summer holidays.
“Last year at Mark H. Durkan’s constituency office we had numerous cases of people who had booked their holidays or weekend breaks without the knowledge that their passport was either soon to be out of date or lost, putting their holiday in jeopardy.
“This is extremely stressful for anyone travelling, as late applications, despite the express service, do not guarantee to arrive before date of travel, especially during peak periods.
“We have already been informed by the Irish Passport Office that as of this week they are currently processing 20,000 applications and this is far from their busiest time.
“If applying for a first time British passport this may require scheduling and attending an interview before approval.”
Colr. Cusack added: “The mantra ‘look before you book’ should give the peace of mind you need, it will also give you time to locate any lost or misplaced passports. I would also urge that parents check their children’s passports as they can often be overlooked too.
“If any constituent finds they need to make an application or renewal and don’t want to do that online, I am happy to assist and will be available to validate their forms,” Colr. Cusack offered.