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Processing time for passports now at least 6 weeks as ICA continues to deal with 'overwhelming' demand

At its peak, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority received 14,000 passport applications in a day.

Processing time for passports now at least 6 weeks as ICA continues to deal with 'overwhelming' demand

A Singapore passport. (File photo: CNA/Calvin Oh)

SINGAPORE: Singaporeans applying for or renewing their passports will now have to wait at least six weeks, according to the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA). 

This is up from the four-week processing time in early April. 

A notice on the authority's website on Wednesday (May 11) cited an "overwhelming" number of applications for the delay. 

In response to CNA's queries, ICA said that the number of passport applications has "spiked" 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," added the authority. 

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, ICA said. 

The authority has allocated more resources to cope with the high demand, such as adding more passport counters.

"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 the authority. 

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, the authority pointed out. 

ICA said in March that the number of passport applications it has received was "unprecedented". 

"This is due to the pent-up demand of 1 million expired and expiring passports with the COVID-19 border restrictions in place," the authority had said. 

Scammers have taken advantage of the skyrocketing demand for passports, and ICA has warned the public not to fall for scam calls related to passport issues. 

Singapore has recently relaxed travel restrictions to allow all fully vaccinated travellers entering Singapore via air or sea checkpoints to do so without a pre-departure test from Apr 26.

Source: CNA/vc(ta)