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Online Passport Applications

Volume 449: debated on Wednesday 19 July 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the reasons are for delays in processing online passport applications; and what average time a person applying online waited for the delivery of their new passport in the last 12 months. (84907)

On 16 May 2006, the Identity and Passport Service (IPS) introduced the second trial phase of its online passport application system, EPA2, from its Newport office.

Soon after its introduction, the EPA2 system encountered technical problems, making the online application process less effective than desired. The IPS invoked contingency plans on 5 June and suspended the system, replacing it with EPA1, the earlier version of IPS’s online application system, which is operating well. To ensure customers received the best possible service levels, IPS wrote to those customers who had applied through EPA2 and were still waiting, to recommend that they submit replacement applications and IPS has generally issued passports to these customers within a two days.

Approximately 18,000 applications were received via EPA2 and all are expected to have been processed by 14 July. The IPS has issued 6.6 million passports this year.

The EPA1 system advises applicants to allow four weeks to receive their passport. However, on-line applications are included in the IPS operating target to turn round 99.5 per cent. of straightforward applications for the standard service within 10 working days once we receive the completed and signed application (which for an EPA1 case will have been prepopulated and sent to the applicant for completion.) The IPS annual report and accounts, expected to be published later this month, will show that this target was met for the financial year ended 31 March 2006.