The number of passport applications has failed to pick up after the summer break, indicating a last-minute rush for travelers wanting to make a trip over the Christmas period, according to police data released yesterday. From the middle of September until October 10, there were 80,000 passport applications submitted to police. The figure is well short of expectations considering that the old passports – without the microchip – will no longer be valid in 2007. Authorities also called on applicants to hand in photos that meet the strict criteria introduced by the biometric system. Since the introduction of the microchip, police have been turning back 15 percent of passport photos in comparison with a 2.5 percent rejection rate under the previous system. Police said that they have met with photographers’ associations to inform them of the higher standards imposed with the introduction of the new passports.