Irish Foreign Minister Charlie Flanagan announced details of the number of Irish passports issued in 2015 and highlighted the success of the innovative new passport card.

Flanagan said, “2015 has been a very busy year for the Passport Service with a record number of passports issued. This represents a growth of 6.41 percent over 2014 and we expect this trend to continue in the coming years.

“This has also been a special year with the launch of new passport card in October of which I am particularly proud. The application process via our website and specially designed app reflects the government’s commitment to the expanded provision of online public services. The card has been an Irish-led and Irish-designed project that uses cutting edge technology and security features to provide high levels of convenience to customers.

“The card is valid as a passport in all 27 other EU Member States along with Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. Already over 13,500 cards have issued.”

On the seasonal surge in applications, Flanagan said, “Almost 50 percent of applications for passports are generally received between April and July. Citizens who plan to renew their passport in 2016 are strongly advised to do so in the off-peak period to ensure the shortest renewal time.”

The Passport Service issued 669,806 passports in 2015, with 68,416 applications were received through the London Passport Office. The Irish Embassy in Canberra had the highest demand for passports, issuing 6,436. The diplomatic offices having the highest demand after Canberra were New York (5,799), Sydney (3,630), San Francisco (3,430) and Pretoria (3,317).