How to renew your passport
Remember to check your passport is in date, says Pól Ó Conghaile, or you really do risk losing your holiday.
Summer isn't just the busiest time of year for family holidays; it's also rush hour for Ireland's Passport Service. Between May 5 and June 4 of this year, over 100,000 applications were processed - a new record.
That's only the beginning, too.
Extra staff have been recruited to deal with high seasonal demand, but applications are already running at 6pc above 2014, and the Department of Foreign Affairs expects demand for passports to increase sharply in mid-July due to an upcoming naturalisation ceremony.
Letting a passport expire is one of those things we never expect will happen to us. But we don't handle passports often, and they're not required to book flights, so it's easy to forget. Check now, and remember that some countries - such as Turkey, Dubai and Thailand - require six months validity.
Bear in mind too that children's passports expire after three to five years.
Newly-wed women should also ensure the name on their passport matches that on their airline ticket. No-one needs honeymoon havoc!
Fail to catch any of these details, and you risk losing your holiday.
The various options for passport renewals are listed below, but these are guidelines, so err on the side of caution (six weeks before travel is recommended).
My tip? Go online now (dfa.ie), and sign up for the passport reminder service, which schedules a notification three months before your document is due to expire.
A simple step, but it could save some serious stress.
Renewing a passport is never cheap, but Passport Express is the cheapest option. Application forms are available from post offices, libraries and Garda stations, and the renewal fee is €80 for adults, €26.50 for children aged 3-18, and €16 for infants aged 0-3 (plus An Post's €9.50 fee).
Passport Express aims to return passports within 10-11 working days, and I've found it very reliable. You can also make an appointment with the Passport Office, but this usually takes 10-15 days and costs €95.
See dfa.ie and passportappointments.ie for full details.
If your passport has expired and travel is imminent, you can make an emergency appointment at the Passport Office in Dublin or Cork, where a 3-10 day turnaround costs €150 (passportappointments.ie; 01 671-1633).
The Dublin office also offers a Rapid Renewal service, with a three-day turnaround available by appointment only (€150; proof of travel required).
In the case of the death or serious illness of a family member, or for emergency medical treatment of the applicant, however, the Passport Service can deliver within one day.