Published on July 8th, 2015 | by Jim Lee0
Introduction of new Irish Passport Card delayed
In January, the Minster for Foreign Affairs and Trade Charles Flanagan, launched a new Irish Passport Card and gave the target date of availability as July 2015. We reported on this pioneering initiative of the Department’s Passport Service, which is the first of its kind in the world, on 9th April (see here).
Inevitably, such a project was always likely to suffer some slippage and not surprisingly, it has, and the Department now advise that the Irish Passport Card, which will be accepted for travel within the European Union and the European Economic Area, will now be available from the end of September. However the Department say that in order to improve the durability of the card it was necessary to alter its polycarbonate structure. This has led to a slight lengthening in the time it is taking to manufacture the card and the resulting delay with the new target date of issue now mid to end of September. It will mean however, that the card issued to the public, meets the highest international standards of polycarbonate cards.
The passport card will be available to all Irish citizens who are over 18 years and hold a valid Irish Passport. The card will have a maximum validity of 5 years (or the remaining validity of an individual’s passport book) and will cost €35 (plus a credit card transaction cost). Additional delivery cost outside Ireland will cost approx €5. Applications for the Passport Card will be able to be made through a smart phone app or online. Those using the app will be able to take a photograph on their phone, and the app will confirm that the photograph meets the international standards for passport photographs. The credit-card sized passport card will be valid for travel within the EU and the European Economic Area. The economic area includes the EU countries, Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein. Switzerland although it has signed the agreement, has not yet ratified its membership.
The security features of the card have incorporated the advice of security experts including An Garda Síochána. One innovative feature of note is the embedded hologram photo on a strip on the reverse of the card. This is the first occasion on which this security feature will be used on travel documents.
The Passport Service again wishes to point out that since 30th June 2013, all postal passport applications must be submitted through the passport express service, operated on behalf of the Passport Service, by An Post and by the Post Office in Northern Ireland. For citizens resident on the island of Ireland, passport express is the cheapest and most efficient means of processing a passport application. This service involves a pre-checking facility designed to reduce the possibility for errors in the application. Also as almost 50% of passport applications are received in the months April to July applicants are asked to be conscious of this and ensure they make timely and accurate applications. To cope with the seasonal demand the passport service has recruited 160 additional temporary staff, most taken from the live register. This is in addition to the active pursuance of opportunities to improve customer service through a combination of internal and external service delivery initiatives. These measures have enabled the Passport Service to keep the average turnaround times for passport express at ten or 11 days for the entire peak period.