There’s always a horrible sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach when you realize you have to go through the passport renewal process. It may seem like just the other day that you were going through the rigmarole of taking new photos etc. but alas, the years have passed and here you are again trying to get it all sorted so you can jet off on your vacation.
Luckily for those Irish living in the UK, the process has now become remarkably simple thanks to photobooths established in Irish centers across the country enabling you take the perfect passport photo, one that you’ll still be happy to look at in ten years time.
The new, instantaneous passport renewal service was rolled out in major cities in England, Scotland, and Wales and allows users to access their passport photo online rather than relying on a physical print, making it easier to apply online to renew your Irish passport.
In fact, so handy are the new booths, that it’s claimed you can now complete the process in as little as ten minutes! The renewal procedure was unveiled online in March 2017 and is available to applicants over the age of 18 not applying for their first passport.
The booths are provided by digital photo provider Photo-Me which sends each person a secure digital code once they’ve had their photo taken. Users can then access this image at any time using the code and attach it to their online application made through the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs' website.
The service is also available if you’re applying for a passport card, which allows Irish citizens to travel within all 30 countries of the European Union and European Economic Area (EEA) without bringing their full passport book with them. The passport card can fit easily in any purse or wallet, but a full passport is needed for travel between Ireland and the US.
The first Britain-based Photo-Me photobooth was installed at the Birmingham Irish Association. It will be rolled-out in cities including Edinburgh, Newcastle, Manchester, Birmingham, Cardiff and London.
The service has already been available to those in Ireland, where 300 booths will be set up around the country by 2018. It’s hoped that by the end of this year, 98% of the Irish population will be within three miles of a booth.
“I am delighted to see the Photo-Me Irish passport photos being extended to Britain,” said Irish Ambassador to Britain Dan Mulhall at the launch of the first British booth in Birmingham.
“The new online renewal system has already proven to be very popular, providing a fast and efficient service. The new Photo-Me Irish passport service will hopefully make it even easier to use this system here in Britain.”
Serge Crasnianski, Chief Executive of Photo-Me, assured potential users that the booths were completely secure and are a fast and easy way to speed up the passport application process.
“Identification security is an ever increasing area of concern for governments across Europe,” he said.
“We are delighted to extend our fast, easy use and cost effective service to major UK cities, simplifying the passport renewal process for Irish citizens located in the UK.”
The number of British applicants for Irish passports has risen by nearly 20,000 following Brexit, Ireland’s former foreign minister Charlie Flanagan said earlier this year.
The Guardian reports that 51,079 people from Great Britain and Northern Ireland applied for Irish passports in the first quarter of 2017, compared with 30,303 during the same period last year. About 250,000 Irish passport applications were received from across the world in the same quarter.
By leaving the EU, UK citizens may not enjoy the easy travel between the remaining countries in the bloc, a luxury that the Irish will retain. It is presumed that British applicants are hoping that even in the event of a hard Brexit, which could see the UK harshly treated by the EU for leaving, that they will still maintain the freedom they had in traveling before the referendum.
You must be an Irish citizen to apply for an Irish passport, but citizenship can be awarded if you are the child or grandchild of a person who was born in Ireland. You can find IrishCentral’s full guide to applying for an Irish passport here.
H/T: Irish Post