'˜Get passport now to avoid summer panic'
Citizens whose passports expire in 2019 have been advised to avoid pre-holiday panic this Brexit-year by applying for their vital travel documentation in good time.
The call has come in the wake of unprecedented demand for Irish passports in the two-and-a-half years since the UK voted to leave the European Union in June 2016.
Sinn Féin Councillor Sharon Duddy has said applicants for new or renewed passports needed to be aware that the looming Brexit deadline of March 29, 2019, was likely to precipitate heightened interest in the harp-bearing burgundy papers.
Colr. Duddy said that if people needed their Irish passports renewed or were making fresh applications that they should do so now as it’s anticipated with the chaos and uncertainty of Brexit that there will be a surge in applications this year.
Colr. Duddy, who has been among those calling the establishment of an Irish passport office in the North, said: “The demand for Irish Passports has shot through the roof with the chaos and uncertainty around Brexit.
“We advise people locally if you are applying for or reapplying for your passport to do so as early as possible,” she added.
The local representative for The Moor District Electoral Area (DEA) said that if anyone needed a passport form they were available at Sinn Féin offices around the city.
Equally, Colr. Duddy said she and her party colleagues would be happy to sign passport documentation for applicants if required.
“All of our offices in the city have passport forms in stock. Our elected representatives are also available if signatures are needed,” she said.
However, with the summer holiday season just six months away time is now of the essence for travellers.
“We will shortly be coming into the busiest time of the year for passport renewals and it can take several weeks to get passport issues resolved,” said Colr. Duddy.
“People may have to end up going to Dublin with documentation to ensure that they get their passport in time to travel.
“And there may be occasions that people will simply lose out on their holiday as there is no time to process the passport application,” she stressed.
Existing passport holders are being encouraged to take advantage of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) online passport renewal portal.
Colr. Duddy said this was a relatively speedy way of making sure people had their papers in place.
“If you already have a passport we recommend reapplying online as it is a much faster process.
“Only those who already have an Irish Passport can reapply online at https://www.dfa.ie/passportonline,” she said.
The alert was issued after a third consecutive record-breaking year of applications for the DFA’s Passport Office.
The DFA recently indicated that a total of 822,000 passports were issued by the office throughout 2018, which was the highest number ever, and a five per cent increase on 2017.