Upgrading system resulting in faster passport processing

Acting Internal Affairs Minister David Seymour says wait times for passports are reducing, as the Department of Internal Affairs (the Department) reports the highest ever monthly figure for digital uptake in passport applications.

“As of Friday 5 July, the passport application queue has reduced by 34.4 per cent - a reduction of 18,557 from a peak of 53,847 at the beginning of May,” says Mr Seymour.

“The upgrade to the passports system implemented in March was the most significant in over a decade. I am pleased to see New Zealanders are already benefitting from the new options that make applying for a passport online a lot easier.

“New Zealanders expressed concerns with the length of time it took to receive a passport and the Government has made steady progress in reducing wait times. The Department has established a dedicated team and is reallocating more staff to addressing the issue, there is now regular monitoring and IT tuning of the new system to make it work more efficiently, and it is providing additional support and training for staff across domestic and international sites.

“As the Acting Minister for Internal Affairs I’d like to acknowledge the way Brooke van Velden has managed a difficult situation she did not create but had to take responsibility for.

“At the time, an upgrade to the passport processing software in March caused unexpected delays to passport processing times. This was of significant concern to Minister van Velden as she was aware of the stress and uncertainty passport issuing delays causes to Kiwis intending to travel internationally for both personal and business reasons. She asked for on-going updates on this issue until it is resolved.

“In the month of June, the Department issued 43,488 passports - almost 6,000 more passports than applications it received.

“The Department has exceeded the goal of issuing 75 per cent for the month of June within six weeks, with 77 per cent issued in the timeframe. As part of the continually improving process, for July it is expected 75 per cent of passports will be issued within two weeks and 95 per cent within six weeks, and by the end of August it is expected over 90 per cent of passports will be processed in two weeks.”

The percentage of applications issued within two weeks in June was 32 per cent. While this was lower than the 50 per cent target the Department had set, it came amid record numbers of digital applications.

Notes for Editors: Of all the passports issued by the Department in June, 91.2 percent were applied for online. This is the highest ever figure for digital uptake in passport applications. June also saw record-breaking figures on online applications for child passport renewals (95.6 per cent) and adult passport renewals (91.3 per cent).