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Passport delays: Internal Affairs admits system upgrade led to 'prolonged' waits

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14 May 2024, 7:24 PM

Passport delays: Internal Affairs admits system upgrade led to 'prolonged' waitsInternal Affairs is advising customers to allow 10 weeks plus delivery to receive their passport. Photo: RNZ

The Department of Internal Affairs has admitted the upgrade to the passport system caused a larger queue and slower processing time than expected.

The changes to the online system means new passports now have a 10 weeks plus postage wait time, urgent applications are taking three days plus postage - this exceeds the government target of 10 days.

The department said the upgrade changed how staff processed applications and had resulted in a "sharp" and "prolonged" increase in the waiting times.

In a bid to get on top of the ballooning applications the department now has a dedicated team to respond to the backlog.

Additionally department staff worked after-hours and weekends to meet demand.

It was also fast-tracking the recruitment process to hire more front line staff to support the delivery of passport services, as well as grouping people in the same physical location to allow for more team collaboration.

All of these measures are beginning to speed up the process for some applicants

Last week, 56 percent of applications issued were within 15 working days which was a 7 percent increase on the previous week, a statement from the department said.

Seventy-four percent of applications were issued within 30 working days, it said.

"With the added focus on returning to our service standards as quickly as possible, we expect to be using our new system with full efficiency by the end of this month. "

The department was aiming to have over 90 percent of applications issued within two weeks by the end of August, the statement said.

There were 27,579 passports processed in April, a drop on the 39,677 processed in February.

Customers with a current application who have an urgent need to travel were asked to contact the Department of Internal Affairs.