Ireland's new online passport service: Everything you need to know
The Republic of Ireland's first ever online passport application service allows Irish citizens to renew their passports using mobile phones, PCs and tablets.
What's the story?
The new Online Passport Application Service (OPAS) was launched in Dublin on Thursday morning by Irish Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan.
The service, dubbed "one of the most significant innovations in the Department's customer service over the past 15 years", allows Irish citizens at home and overseas to renew their passports via the DFA's website (dfa.ie/passportonline).
Ireland's selfie-friendly passport cards can also be applied for online, and it is also possible to apply for both passport and card "as part of a bundle".
How much does it cost?
A standard passport book application costs €80 on the new system, with a large book priced at €110 and a passport card costing €35.
Is it available to everyone?
For now, the online application service is only available to existing passport-holders over the age of 18, with first-time applicants and children required to continue with the current system - through passport offices or An Post's Passport Express.
Conveniently for Irish citizens who live overseas, however, the OPAS will allow passport-holders to renew documents online from anywhere in the world.
What are the photo guidelines?
Digital photos required for online renewals must meet strict criteria.
Unlike Ireland's new passport cards, the OPAS does not permit selfies or use of a webcam, although applicants can get someone else to take their photo using a smartphone or digital camera. 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.
Full guidelines are on the website.
How long does it take?
The application process will take "approximately 10 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 10 working days, plus postage.
Passports can be posted internationally for an additional fee of €5.
Do application forms need to be witnessed?
Full guidelines are available on the DFA website here.
What's the background?
The online application system is the latest upgrade in an ongoing, €18.6 million modernisation of the Irish Passport Service.
Since 2015, the programme has delivered selfie-friendly passport cards and enhanced security features, as well as introducing online application tracking, a TravelWise app and 'real-time' webchat services, among other changes.
Ireland's Passport Service processed a record 733,000 passport renewals last year, with renewals expected to rise by a further 9pc this year.
Any other announcements?
Yes. A new standardisation of children's passports sees the extension of the five-year passport to all children aged 17 and under. The three-year infant passport will no longer be available, and all children's passports will now cost €30.