Tuesday, 19 April 2011
Dáil Éireann Debate
59. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will review a matter (details supplied) regarding passports; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8171/11]
Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): The arrangement whereby citizens aged 65 and over were exempted from passport fees was introduced in 2005. The decision to re-introduce fees for citizens aged 65 or over was announced in the Budget last December. This budgetary measure took effect from 11 April 2011, which was the date set out in the Statutory Instrument 47/2011 signed by the then Taoiseach and acting Minister for Foreign Affairs on 3 February 2011. Based on an estimated figure of 30,000 applications from those aged 65 or over during 2011, the cost of exempting those aged 65 and over from passport fees was estimated to be €2.4 million in 2011 in terms of lost revenue. This figure is based on a figure of 45,000 persons aged 65 and over having applied in the full year in 2010. All passport applicants aged 18 years or over pay the same fee for a ten year passport.
Introducing an arrangement whereby adults of any age would be eligible to apply for a passport for a period of less than 10 years would increase the total demand for passports on an ongoing basis and would require the recruitment of additional staff in the Passport Offices to cope with increased demand. A reduced term of validity for children’s passports is necessary as children’s appearances change significantly within a short period of years, which can lead to uncertainty regarding the identity of the passport holder. This is not generally the case for adults of any age and it is the norm internationally to provide standard validity passports to all adults.
In addition, were the Passport Office to charge a reduced fee, this would increase further the gap between the revenue generated through passport fees and the cost of producing passports. Any shortfall would have to be met by the taxpayer. For these reasons, I have no plans to introduce a passport of less than 10 year validity for adult applicants, regardless of age. I would emphasise that the annualised fee for a standard Irish passport compares favourably with many other jurisdictions. At €8 per year the Irish passport fee compares with approximately €9 per year for a British passport, €9 per year for a French passport, €8 per year for a Danish passport, €10 per year for a United States passport and €15 per year for an Australian passport.
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