Passport renewal website flies high at Plain English Awards

Plain English Award
Pictured: Inez Bailey, National Adult Literacy Agency; Paul Rowley, the Passport Service; and Declan Black, Mason Hayes & Curran

Digital update gives travellers 10-day passport renewals



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15 February 2019 | 0

The Passport Service, operated by the Dept of Foreign Affairs, has won first place for its online passport renewal website in the digital category of The Plain English Awards for Ireland.

The website can be used by Irish citizens anywhere in the world with a turnaround time is 10 working days for online renewal applications, excluding postage.

The aims of the Plain English Awards are to reward organisations that communicate clearly and to promote the use of plain English in all public information. Fifty organisations submitted over 70 entries that used plain English standards. An independent panel of experts were involved in the judging process.




The judges praised the website for being easy to follow and using plain English. People who use the website to renew a passport are told at the beginning of the process what they need to have ready to complete the application. The process is presented to users in a very clear, step by step fashion and it can be completed in less than five minutes.

Other categories were the ‘best use of plain English by an organisation’ which was won by a joint effort from the Dept of Public Expenditure & Reform and the National Disability Authority. Their prize-winning project is a customer communications toolkit for the public service. The document shows workers in the public service how to produce communications that can be easily understood by members of the public.

AIB topped the category for ‘plain English – impact’ for their work on testing customer letters to make them easier to understand.

The Plain English Awards are organised by NALA and sponsored by leading law firm Mason Hayes & Curran. The Awards were presented at a lunch in the Law Society of Ireland, Dublin.

“We developed these awards as we want to create a public preference for organisations that choose to communicate in plain English,” said Inez Bailey, CEO, NALA, said: “Everyone benefits from clear information, written in plain language. Citizens are more likely to understand their rights, organisations are more likely to save money and governments are more likely to make better use of their resources. The winners have won these awards for thinking of the people who use their services and putting them first.”

NALA research has found that almost 95% of Irish adults are in favour of plain English. About half of them (48%) find official documents, including information from the Government difficult to understand. They also find jargon, terms and conditions, and financial information challenging.

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