The Tánaiste has said that processing and issuing of passports "remains a major issue for first time applicants".

Speaking at the Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting tonight, Leo Varadkar said "... if 40% of passport application forms have been filled out incorrectly or are incomplete, it is an issue with the forms and not the applicants."

The meeting heard from several Fine Gael TDs and Senators about the experiences of their constituents, with Minister Varadkar describing it as a "very serious issue."

It comes after An Post renamed its passport application service from 'Passport Express' to 'Post Passport'.

The change came following complaints that the name was misleading.

There had been calls for the name change by Fine Gael TD Emer Higgins who said it was "misleading" as the current fastest way to obtain a passport is to apply online.

An Post stated: "This change of name came into force yesterday following a period of engagement with both the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Passport Office".

It advised customers that "the Passport Office is currently taking six to eight weeks to process applications / renewals through the Post Passport channel".

Deputy Higgins welcomed the name change and said it would "finally alleviate confusion around slower turnaround times for postal passport applications".

The Dublin Mid West TD stated: "Applying for your passport by post is by far the slowest and most expensive means of application, with standard renewals taking up to eight weeks by post as opposed to 10-15 working days online.

"But up until now I’ve found that a lot of people hear the name Passport Express and presume that it is the fastest method of application."

She added: "The main message for those applying for a passport is to apply online, apply early and ensure all your paperwork and signatures are included with your application to avoid any delays."

It comes after the Ombudsman's office criticised the Passport Service of the Department of Foreign Affairs in its latest report.

"There was a significant increase in complaints in 2021 - the bulk of those relating to delays in processing first-time passport applications," it noted.

The Ombudsman said that such delays were "not acceptable" and will continue to monitor the situation.