Irish Passport Cards and online passport renewal now available for children
An expansion of Ireland's online passport services takes place this afternoon, our Travel Editor reports
From 3pm this afternoon, Irish children's passports can be renewed online and Irish Passport Cards will be available to children for the first time.
The expansion of Ireland's Online Passport Renewal Service was announced by Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney.
It permits the online renewal of Irish children’s passports, introduces a new passport card for children, and allows renewals 24/7 from all over the world.
Online renewal fees are also being reduced to €75 for online passport book renewals, as opposed to €80 plus postage (€9.50) for a traditional Passport Express renewal.
Children's passport book applications can be made with a digital photograph (not a selfie - see guidelines below), an email address and a credit/debit card at dfa.ie/passportonline.
First-time applications cannot be processed online, however, and an identity and guardians' consent form must be printed with signatures witnessed as part of any renewal.
Ireland's Online Passport Application Service was launched in March 2017 as part of an ongoing, €18.6 million modernisation of the Irish Passport Service.
Since 2015, the programme has delivered passport cards, online application tracking, a 'Travelwise' app and enhanced security features, among other services.
It comes as Ireland continues to process record numbers of passport applications - handling 786,822 in 2017 alone, with that figure expected to rise this year.
Renewing via traditional routes like Passport Express can take 15 working days, and the system has struggled with delays at peak times, but online applications are usually quicker.
Customers can expect a turnaround of 8-10 days, the Passport Service says, but 50pc of renewals are returned within five days, and 12pc within a single working day.
FAQ: How to apply for an Irish Passport online
How much does it cost?
A standard passport book application costs €75 on the new online system, with a standard child passport book costing €20.
That compares with an €80 fee for An Post's Passport Express, with an application fee of €9.50.
A Passport Card costs €35, though you can make savings if you apply for both at the same time - for a bundled rate of €105.
What do I need to apply?
You will need a digital photograph, an email address and a credit/debit card to apply online. Have these to hand when you start the process at dfa.ie/passportonline.
Is it available to everyone?
No. All passports can now be renewed online, but first-time applicants must continue with the current system - through passport offices or An Post's Passport Express.
How can I get a child's Passport Card?
Children's Passport Cards can only be applied for together with a passport book renewal. Unlike passport books, they cannot be applied for on their own. Prices are bundled (see above).
What are the photo guidelines?
You cannot submit selfies or photos taken with a webcam, although applicants can get someone else to take their photo using a smartphone or digital camera (be careful not to use the 'zoom' function).
You can also use one of the digital 'Photo-Me' booths located around the country (passportphoto.ie), or have it taken by a photographer or pharmacy.
See full passport photo guidelines here.
What about consent for children?
To ensure the Passport Service continues to verify the identity of the child and receives the consent of guardians using the online child passport renewal service, a Child Passport Identity and Consent Form will be generated for printing and witnessing at the end of the online process.
This form can be printed at home, the Passport Service says, but your signature can be witnessed by a range of people, including gardaí, doctors or school secretaries.
How long does the process take?
The application process should take "approximately 10-15 minutes" according to the DFA's website, provided your digital photos are ready to go.
Payments can be made by credit or debit card, and passports will be delivered by express post. You can expect your application to be processed in a target turnaround time of ten working days, plus postage.
What if I need an urgent renewal?
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.
Avoid this scenario by setting a passport renewal reminder here.
Do application forms need to be witnessed?
Children's renewal applications involve the printing and witnessing of identity and consent forms, but adults' online renewals do not. Full guidelines are on the DFA website here.
Any other changes?
Yes. As of last year, passports last five years for all children aged 18 and under. The three-year infant passport is no longer be available, and all children's passports will now cost €20.
Read more:New passport machines and 'e-Gates' have opened at Dublin Airport