Travel Insider: Check your passport is in date, or risk losing your holiday
It's essential to keep your passport in date, says Pól Ó Conghaile. Otherwise, the family holiday is at risk.
When does your passport expire? It's an easy date to overlook. Passports are no longer required to book flights, and we don't handle them very often.
But if yours or your child's passport goes out of date (and remember, children's passports last just 3-5 years, as opposed to 10 for adults), the whole family's holiday is at risk.
Right now, the demand for passports is exceptionally high.
Ireland's Passport Service received over 8,700 more applications from January 1 to February 25 than it did over the same period last year.
The average turnaround time for Passport Express has been as high as 14 working days. Throw in bank holidays or delays, and you could be looking at three weeks. For first-time applicants - including children - the average is 20 working days.
Efforts are underway to shorten this. Twenty-six additional staff have been deployed to the Passport Office in Dublin, for example, with an additional 1,500 documents now being processed daily.
This is March, however. April to August is peak time for passport applications and renewals, with further spikes in demand possible as a result of naturalisation ceremonies and UK Brexit fears.
Get the ball rolling now, and remember that some destinations - including Dubai, Turkey and Thailand - require a passport validity of six months from the date of entry.
Finally, consider a passport card (€35, below) - which allows travel within the EU without a passport - and sign up for the passport reminder service on dfa.ie. It sends a notification three months before your expiry date.
On time renewals
Passport Express is the cheapest option for renewals. A wariness about posting your passport is understandable, but I've used it dozens of times without a hitch (you can track its progress online too).
Application forms are available from post offices and Garda stations, and the renewal fee is €80 for adults, €26.50 for children aged 3-17 and €16 for infants aged 0-3 (plus An Post's €9.50 fee).
You can also make an appointment, but this takes 10-15 days and costs €95. See dfa.ie and passportappointments.ie for full details.
Forgotten to renew your passport?
If travel is within 3-10 days, make an emergency appointment to attend the Passport Office in Dublin or Cork (passportappointments.ie; 01 671-1633). It costs €150, and you MUST have travel documents (eg a flight booking) to prove your case.
The Dublin office also offers a Rapid Renewal service, with a three-day turnaround available by appointment only (€150; proof of travel required).
If you're renewing a child's passport, note that both parents or guardians need to attend the appointment with photo ID.