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Minister Flanagan announces major passport initiatives

Consular, Minister Charles Flanagan, Passports, Press Releases, Ireland, 2017

 

The Minister for Foreign Affairs & Trade, Mr. Charlie Flanagan TD, has today announced a number of Passport Service customer service enhancements including an enhanced on-line application tracking service, which allows passport applicants to accurately track progress of their application in a visually dynamic way with a progress bar animation as well as a web-chat social media service to facilitate “real time” communication between the Passport Service and passport applicants.

In making the announcement, Minister Flanagan said:

“In 2015 I announced a comprehensive Reform Programme to further modernise Passport Services and ensure they meet citizens needs over the next ten years.  The programme is scheduled to run to 2019 and has a combined capital and current investment budget of €18.6 million. It aims to deliver a more efficient, integrated and citizen-focused passport service with an increased emphasis on fraud detection and prevention measures to maintain the integrity of the Irish passport

“The launch of web-chat and enhanced on-line tracking services will significantly improve the flow of information to Passport applicants.  Enhanced tracking means that the applicant now has more accurate and tailored information on when his/her passport will be delivered.  It will ease travel planning and reduce the need to contact the Passport Service for updates.  If customers have queries, the WebChat channel will provide an interactive reply. This option complements other existing customer service channels including Twitter direct messaging and phone line services.”

The Passport and Consular Services of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade will be participating at the Holiday World Exhibition this weekend at the RDS Simmonscourt (27-29 January).   All visitors at Holiday World are welcome to visit the Department’s stands at the Exhibition, for a chance to win a free iPad, as well as to ask any passport or travel-related query they might have. 

In announcing his Department’s participation at the Holiday World Exhibition, Minister Flanagan said:

“I would like to take this opportunity to advise people to ensure that they are in possession of a valid passport before they book their holidays.   We are coming into a busy time of year for the Passport Service and the best way to avoid any potential disappointment or disruption to travel plans is by submitting your application in plenty of time - at least six weeks before the intended date of travel is recommended.”

At the Holiday World Exhibition, the consular team from the Department will be highlighting the TravelWise Smartphone App and Travel Advice database. These are invaluable resources for Irish citizens travelling overseas, providing relevant, accurate and up-to-date information on security and safety issues, local laws and customs, and a host of other topics for almost 200 countries worldwide.  The App can also enable the Department to contact citizens in an emergency.

The Passport Service had a very busy year in 2016.  It issued a record number of passports - over 730,000 – the highest number of passports in any year to-date.  The represents an increase of 9% on 2015 and it is expected that this trend will continue in the coming years.

 

ENDS.