Passport about to expire? So could your travel plans
Passports, tickets, money. They're the troika of overseas travel. So why are hordes of Irish holidaymakers leaving it to the last minute to renew their out-of-date passports?
In the first four months of this year, the Passport Office received some 17,000 applications requesting a turnaround quicker than the standard 10 working days.
In the same period, 3,375 people sought renewals in less than five days. The phone lines are hopping.
"It's just not possible to facilitate everyone who turns up on our doorstep," says Joe Nugent, head of the Passport Office.
"We try to be as helpful as we possibly can, but someone who comes to us straight from the airport can't be accommodated. It's physically impossible for us to do that."
With Euro 2012 looming, Joe's office is understandably anxious about the possibility of a last-minute rush from the green army.
It recently published a Euro 2012 Survival Guide that soccer fans can download from drinkaware.ie.
Item No 1 on the checklist? You guessed it.
Letting a passport expire is something people imagine will never happen to them. Yet more than 200 Irish people are looking to renew their most important travel document at short notice every day -- a baffling figure, especially given the publicity surrounding recent strikes at the Passport Office.
Why are we leaving it so late? Possibly because passports are not documents we look at every day, and are not required to book flights.
It's also easy to forget that children's passports expire every three or five years, depending on their age, as opposed to every 10 years for adults.
When it comes to renewing, An Post's Passport Express is the cheapest option. Application forms are available from Garda stations, and the renewal fee is €80 for adults.
That rises to €95 at the Passport Office, with an extra €55 for emergency passports, or €110 for the out-of-hours service.
One recent case at the Passport Office saw a woman rushing to renew several passports at short notice before a trip to the Canaries. She coughed up €600.
You may also need to renew your passport even if it's not out of date. Dubai and Thailand are just two of many destinations requiring passport validity of at least six months after your date of entry.
Arriving without out one mightn't be the best way to start a honeymoon ...
The moral of the story? Check your passport before you book your flights, and renew in good time. It's May, so there's still an opportunity to get your documents in order before Euro 2012 or the summer.
Get it sorted, or you're asking for hassle. You could even lose your holiday.