Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney, T.D., has announced that more than 779,000 Irish passports were issued in 2017.
The Tánaiste said:
“This is the highest number of Irish passports ever issued in one year. It represents an increase of over 6% compared to 2016 (itself a record-breaking year), and an increase of over 15% since 2015.
"The number of applicants from Northern Ireland and Great Britain has continued to rise. Overall, almost 20% of the total number of applications received by the Passport Service this year were from Irish citizens in Northern Ireland or Great Britain.”
The number of passport applications received this year from applicants in Northern Ireland has risen to 81,752, an increase of almost 20% compared to 2016, with applications from Great Britain rising to 81,287, an increase of more than 28% compared to 2016.
First-time applicants represented approximately half of all applications from Northern Ireland. The respective figure for first-time applicants from Great Britain was approximately 39%.
More than 47% of these GB applicants for passports were Irish citizens by birth in Ireland; while another 37% were Irish citizens born abroad to an Irish-born parent. Fewer than 7% of applicants from Great Britain in 2017 were Irish citizens following Foreign Birth Registration (“FBR”). The relevant totals for 2016 applications from Great Britain were Irish born 55%, Irish-born parents 38%, FBR approx. 4%.
This past year also saw innovations in how the Irish Passport service delivers its service, with an ambitious reform program to meet the unprecedented demand for passports from Irish citizens at home and abroad, and to continuously strengthen systems guarding against fraud and protecting the integrity of the Irish passport.
The award-winning Online Passport Renewal Service was launched in March 2017. This innovative service means that Irish citizens renewing their passport can do so online anywhere in the world, 24 hours per days, 7 days per week . In only 9 months of operation to date, more than 100,000 passports have issued following online applications. Online turnaround times are currently well ahead of the target of 10 working days plus postage.
Commenting on the service, the Tánaiste said:
“The Online Passport Renewal Service has been a particular success. From Cork to Costa Rica; from Meath to Mozambique; and from Sligo to Singapore – Irish citizens all over the world have availed of the option to renew their Irish passport online, with no requirement for forms, witnesses or printed photos.”
The world-first Passport Card, introduced in 2016, continued to grow in popularity in 2017. More than 38,000 Irish citizens took advantage of the convenience of travel to all EU, EEA countries and Switzerland with a credit-card sized passport.
The Tánaiste also took the opportunity to remind citizens of the need to check the expiry date of their passport and encouraged them to apply outside the peak season:
"The Department has worked hard in recent years to ensure we provide a modern, secure and efficient passport service. However, it remains very important that prospective travelers check the validity of their passport before booking a trip overseas and apply for their passport in plenty of time. It's important to note that many countries require incoming visitors to hold passports which are valid for at least six months.
Citizens who plan to renew their passport in 2018 are strongly encouraged to do so online and in the off-peak period, to ensure the shortest possible renewal time. Useful information and guidance on the range of channels through which passport applications can be made is available on my Department’s website.”