Why are French passport and ID card applications taking so long?

The wait for mairie appointments is generally twice as long as usual as the country emerges from Covid restrictions

Passport and identity card applications are taking longer than usual in France at the moment
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Reader Question: We are French citizens and are trying to apply for new identity cards. Why is there such a wait at the moment?

In France, people applying for new passports and cartes nationales d’identité ID cards are currently having to wait several weeks or months before they receive the required document.

The issuing authority Agence nationale des titres sécurisés (ANTS) told Ouest France that it was taking 27 days on average to get an appointment at a mairie in January 2022, compared to 11.5 days in March 2021.

This delay varies depending on the commune, and is generally greater in urban areas.

After their appointment, applicants have to wait for their documents to be sent off to the prefecture and returned to them. This is generally taking 23 days for passports and 25 days for identity cards.

These longer waiting times are partly due to the backlog of applications created by the pandemic.

“2020 and the first half of 2021 were marked by a sharp drop in demand for such documents during the lockdowns, even more so for passports than for identity cards,” ANTS said.

Some communes are still working with reduced staff, and sometimes there are fewer appointments made available in order to allow for the interview spaces to be disinfected and for social distancing to be maintained.

These issues are compounded by the fact that application numbers have increased since last summer, as people go to renew passports that expired during the Covid lockdowns. This could also be attributed in part to the fact that it is now necessary for French nationals to have a passport to travel to the UK.

ID card applications have also surged, perhaps because of the introduction of the new, modernised card format, which may have motivated people to apply for a replacement before their own card expires.

Since the new card was launched at the end of February this year, there have been around 4.5 million ID card applications in France.

Since August 2021, the number of requests being made has been higher than in 2019 (pre-Covid). The trend of higher applications has continued during the beginning of 2022.

Are there any measures in place to solve this issue?

“In each department, prefects have been invited to bring their mayors together to look for better solutions,” ANTS said.

“This could include reducing the length of an appointment (15 minutes seems to work well) and developing pre-application tools online.”

Additional staff will also be employed at prefectures to speed up the processing of applications, with ANTS saying the “equivalent of 100 additional agents are to be recruited”. It is not clear if this means 100 per prefecture or in total.

Is it possible to get a temporary passport?

It is only possible to obtain a temporary passport in an emergency situation.

These include:

  • Serious illness

  • Death of a family member

  • Humanitarian reasons

  • Professional reasons (which are unexpected and cannot be avoided)

“Prefectures will decide whether [the passport can be] issued based on the situation,” the interior ministry website states.

Temporary passports are valid for a year. Applications can be made at your local prefecture.

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