The passport system is getting a reboot as officials grapple a Brexit-related spike in applications

The State is tendering a €13 million contract for provision of a system to help reduce processing times.

By Laura Roddy Reporter, Fora

THE PASSPORT PROCESSING system will undergo a multimillion-euro overhaul as State officials deal with a spike in applications brought on by Brexit.

The Department of Foreign Affairs has tendered the contract for a company to provide a new ‘passport issuance and processing system’ as part of an ongoing passport reform programme.

The new system will replace the current internal one used for processing both passports and foreign birth registrations, which permit certain people to become Irish citizens if they were born outside the State.

It aims to reduce the time it takes for applications to be processed. The contract for the project is valued at €13 million.

A spokesman for the Department of Finance told Fora that the new system will help provide applicants with an improved service “by reducing the amount of time it takes for these applications to be processed”.

Increase

There has been a significant increase in the number of passport applications and foreign birth registrations since the 2016 Brexit referendum.

The government has had to increase the number of staff required to process applications. Some 810,000 were handled last year, which is likely to increase by another 70,000 in 2019. 

Since the UK decided to leave the European Union, the number of applications for citizenship by birth has also increased from 6,000 per year to 25,000. This figure is expected to rise to 56,000 this year.

Though people have been able to apply for citizenship online through the Foreign Birth Register since 2012, and an online system for passport renewals was launched in 2017, the tender stated that these technologies will be replaced and both application procedures integrated under one system.

Last November, the State expanded the Online Passport Renewal Service to allow applications for both adult and children passports. Since then, 57% of all eligible applicants have applied online, according to the tender.

The proposed system will be accessed by 600 officials across offices in Dublin and Cork, and in Irish embassies abroad, with the chosen candidates expected to design, build, test, and give on-going support. 

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