Friday 28 October 2016

Have selfie, will travel: New Irish Passport Card launched

Card allows travel in 30 countries

The new Irish Passport Card (sample).
The new Irish Passport Card (sample).
Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan, TD during the announcement of details of a new Passport Card and app earlier this year. Photo:
The new EU passport card will cost €35 Credit: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

A new passport card, which allows Irish citizens to travel within the EU without their passports, has been launched.

Applications for the Irish Passport Card, designed to fit into a wallet or purse, can now be made online at dfa.ie/passportcard and via a new mobile app.

The card can be applied for by Irish citizens over the age of 18 with a valid passport, and has a maximum validity of five years (or the remaining validity of the holder's passport).

The card costs €35, plus a credit and transaction cost. Additional delivery costs outside Ireland will be approximately €5.

Novel features include the ability to upload a selfie – or “passport compliant photo taken on a mobile phone,” as the Department of Foreign Affairs terms it.

The card is being launched together with a free app and website that will test photos using advanced biometric algorithms to ensure they meet International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) standards, it adds.

The free app is available in iOS (via Apple App Store), Android (via Google Play Store) and Microsoft (via Windows Store) formats.

"The introduction of the passport card is a significant innovation that will enhance the travel experience for Irish people as they go on holidays or business trips to 30 countries throughout Europe,” said Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr. Charlie Flanagan T.D, speaking at today’s launch in Dublin.

The card was originally due to launch in July, but was delayed due to manufacturing changes designed to improve its durability

It can be used by travellers whose regular passport is with an embassy as part of a visa application process, and will also be accepted as a form of ID.

"The passport card will be particularly useful for young people who use their passport booklet as identification, especially on nights out," Minister Flanagan has said.

It is hoped that this will reduce the number of lost passports.

Several Irish companies were involved in the development of the card, including DLRS Group, with security design and APP development supplied by Absolute Graphics in Wicklow and Purple Pod in Meath.

The final product is a state-of-the-art polycarbonate supplied by HID in Galway.

Security features incorporated the advice of experts including An Garda Síochána, the Department says, and include the use of thermochromic ink (which disappears when heated), UV images including a green shamrock and ash leaf, and embedded hologram photos on a strip on the reverse side.

"This an Irish-led and Irish-designed project that combines cutting edge technology and security features with ground-breaking levels of user-friendliness and flexibility,” Minister Flanagan said.

The Passport Service has the capacity to process 3,000 Passport Card applications per week, it says, with an estimated processing period of 20-25 working days.

The launch comes shortly after the Department of Foreign Affairs announced that its Passport Express service via post offices throughout Ireland and Northern Ireland (for traditional passbook renewals) has been suspended due to the current industrial action affecting An Post.

Read more on the alternative arrangements here.

The new passport card is valid for entry into Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK, as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway – which are not in the EU but do fall within the EEA (European Economic Area).

Travel to other areas, including the US, requires a regular passport.

See dfa.ie/passportcard for more.

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