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DIA apologises for passport blunder, reveals when wait times will return to normal

Sarah Pollok,
Publish Date
Tue, 14 May 2024, 3:57pm

DIA apologises for passport blunder, reveals when wait times will return to normal

Sarah Pollok,
Publish Date
Tue, 14 May 2024, 3:57pm

The Department of Internal Affairs said it aims to get passport wait times down to two weeks despite Kiwis currently facing 10-week waits.

A system update in March pushed passport processing times from four weeks to 10 weeks; the delay caused headaches for travellers across the country and families abroad.

The Department said the update was more disruptive than it had anticipated and apologised for the stress caused.

Passport processing usually takes four weeks and the update was designed to increase efficiency by allowing customers to complete more steps online. Instead, the update prompted wait times to more than double to 10 weeks.

What’s causing passport delays in New Zealand?

The department said the “sharp increase” in average wait times was because the update involved “significant changes” to how staff processed applications.

While they anticipated the upgrade to temporarily affect productivity and timeframes, they admitted the impact was “sharper and more prolonged than expected”.

What is the department doing to fix things?

The department said reducing wait times was a priority and several interventions had been established to resolve the issues.

Key actions included forming a dedicated team to work on delays, fine-tuning the new system to increase efficiency, providing extra support and training to staff as they adjust to the new system and fast-tracking recruitment of additional front-line staff.

The department said the interventions and other actions were improving wait times.

“Last week, 56 per cent of applications issued were within 15 working days which is a 7 per cent increase on the previous week,” the DIA stated, adding that 74 per cent of applications had been issued within 30 working days.

When will passport wait times return to normal?

The department said they expected the new system to be working at full efficiency by the end of May and by the end of August, it wants to issue 90 per cent of passports within two weeks.

However, currently, Kiwis are still waiting more than 10 weeks.

“Currently, the department is advising customers to allow up to 10 weeks plus delivery to receive their passport.”

This has caught out families such as Nick and Dani Potts from Hāwea, who applied before the system update when the timeframe was four weeks. The couple applied for new passports in March for themselves and their children ahead of a holiday in May.

I’m still waiting for my passport and I need to travel soon, what do I do?

If your passport application is still being processed but a trip is fast approaching, DIA recommends contacting them as soon as possible.

How can I speed up a passport being processed?

Unless you pay an additional $206 per passport for “urgent” passport processing, there is little one can do to speed up their passport processing.

The one thing you can do, according to the DIA, is ensure all application information is totally correct.

“Prospective customers can support faster turn-around by ensuring that they have the correct information when they apply,” they stated, adding that incorrect passport photos submitted can extend the processing time.

How will the new system improve things?

Families and groups will be far better off using the new system, as they will be able to apply at the same time online. Previously, groups had to use paper forms but now you can save time and do it altogether at home.

If your passport was lost, stolen or damaged, things will also be easier, as you’ll no longer need to supply a previous passport number, contact the Department or submit paper forms. Instead, you can complete an application online, as 2603 people already have.

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