Tuesday 20 March 2018

Applicants facing struggle with selfies for new passport app

A sample of a passport card
A sample of a passport card

Jane O'Faherty

Users of the new passport app may have to take several selfies before finding a suitable photo for their passport card.

Some applicants have reported taking as many as 76 pictures of themselves when applying for the passport card, only to be told the images were not suitable.

Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan launched the credit card-sized passports in early October, and 8,204 applications have so far been received by the Passport Office.

Approximately 6,500 applications have been successfully processed to date.

However, many have claimed they have faced numerous difficulties while trying to meet the app's requirements.

The smartphone app requires applicants to put in details from their current passport book and take a photo of themselves, before paying the €35 fee with their credit card.

One Irish expat in Vienna revealed he had taken 76 selfies over two days before one was accepted by the app.

"Two weeks later I received an email from the Passport Office cancelling my applications as, literally, my face did not fit," he said.

"Hundreds of online comments confirm that this is a common occurrence," he continued. "I am no more or less photogenic than the Minister, but I wish him a better experience."

Meanwhile, a caller to RTE's Liveline said he had to take 55 photographs when applying via the app.

"I've tried the new app and 55 times I tried to take my picture in all sorts of circumstances, complying with the guidelines that they give you," he said.

"On the 55th time, I managed to get a photograph that was acceptable."

Under current standards, there are 60 different parameters that must be taken into account for a photo. These include facial measurements to ensure the face is the correct size for the passport, good lighting and minimal background clutter.

Some 455 self-taken photos for the cards have been rejected by the Passport Office to date.

The card lasts a maximum of five years, but only those with a valid passport can apply for it. The card can only be used when travelling within the EU or Switzerland.

A spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs stated that the 455 photos deemed non-compliant by the app represented 5.5pc of the total number of applications. The number of rejections for cards is lower than that for passport books, she added.

However, the department stressed that image parameters are under constant review and it expects the proportion of rejected applications to fall.

Irish Independent

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