SINGAPORE, May 12 — The number of passport applications has risen to more than 7,000 a day, three times more than the 2,000 seen before Covid-19, and climbed to as high as 14,000. This prompted the authorities to deploy more resources to deal with the crowds at the ICA Building.

In response to TODAY’s queries yesterday (May 11), the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) said that there has been an “overwhelming demand” for passports since the easing of Covid-19 travel restrictions.

Earlier in the day, CNA reported that the average waiting time for passport processing now is at least six weeks from the time of application, up from the four-week processing time in April.

In its statement to TODAY, ICA said that it could take even longer for people to receive their passports if there is a greater surge in the number of applications or if there are issues with their application, such as when the photograph submitted does not meet the authority’s requirements.

“ICA 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 it has deployed more resources to process the passport applications and attend to members of the public who have showed up at the ICA Building near Lavender MRT Station for passport matters.

“To manage the crowd situation, more passport counters are made available on other floors in ICA Building. 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.”

The authority advised Singaporeans who need to travel urgently to produce the supporting documents for their application in person at the site for “assessment on a case-by-case basis”.

It also said that applicants should ensure that the photograph submitted meets requirements to avoid delays.

“If the submitted passport photo does not meet the requirements, applicants would have to resubmit a new photo and additional time would be required to complete the transaction.”

There are still many appointment slots available at post offices islandwide for passport collection, ICA said, stressing that Singaporeans who do not have travel plans in the next six months need not renew their passports now if they are now in the country.

“The Singapore passport is not a mandatory identity document and there is no penalty for not renewing passports that have expired,” ICA added. ― TODAY