As the number of people applying for and renewing passports continues to rise, Immigration and Checkpoints says applications now take at least six weeks to process.
“Longer Processing Time for Passport Application. Due to overwhelming passport applications, please expect a longer processing time of at least six weeks,” said a notice on the official website of the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) today (May 11).
Authorities had said in early April that it would take four weeks to apply for and renew passports, and the new announcement also means that the processing time required will be extended by another two weeks.
The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority said that it has received an “unprecedented” number of passport applications since March this year, which is believed to be due to border controls during the Covid-19 pandemic, which have left Singaporeans with a backlog of about 1 million expired or about to expire passports.
ICA in speaking to CNA about the application and renewal hikes for passports, the ICA said that the number of passport applications has increased to more than 7,000 per day since Singapore eased travel restrictions. At its peak, ICA received 14,000 applications in a day, it added. This is compared to about 2,000 applications per day pre-COVID.
ICA said it “understands that many Singaporeans are eager to start travelling again, especially during the coming June school holidays. We are doing our best to handle the high demand and our officers are working longer hours during this period.”
It added that applications could take longer if there is a greater surge in demand or if there are issues with an application, such as the submitted photograph not meeting requirements. The ICA however assured that it has added more passport counters at its centre to cope with the high demand.
“We have also set up additional queue areas and conducted triaging to direct members of public to the right location. They are advised to follow the signages placed on-site and instructions given by officers when entering ICA building.”
As for Singaporeans who need to travel urgently, “they are required to produce supporting documents in person at ICA building for assessment on a case-by-case basis”, said ICA.
Those who are collecting their passports are encouraged to make an appointment to collect their documents at any SingPost outlet, instead of at the ICA building. There is no additional fee involved, ICA said.
“There are still many appointment slots available at the post offices for passport collection,” ICA noted. Some post offices also have longer operating hours, including weekends, it pointed out.
Due to the huge increase in the demand for passport applications and the surge in related fraudulent activities, the ICA issued a warning to the public that if they receive a call with the prefix “+65”, indicating that they have a problem with their passport, they must be vigilant.