Sinn Féin TD for Sligo, Leitrim, West Cavan and South Donegal, Martin Kenny has appealed to people to check that their passports are in order and to apply for one or renew them well before the date of travel.
Speaking in Leinster House, Deputy Kenny said gone were the days when TDs could work miracles for people
“The Passport Office will only accept urgent applications in the case of emergency, not where you forgot to check and you’re are flying out on holiday next week.
“The Passport Office is busy at the moment and people must take that into account when applying for a passport or renewing an old one,” he said. “There is a wave of applications from the North and Britain due to the Brexit vote, so people should take that into account also.
“There are new systems in operation designed to be more self-service than previously. People should check their passports before booking any trip and apply in good time to renew or get a passport for the first time,” he added.
Here are some of the pitfalls and procedures to get a passport.
• Remember, that it is no longer possible to have your children on your passport and if you are applying for a passport for someone under 18 years of age, the signatures of both parents is required.
This is the case even if the couple is not living together and the procedure for getting a passport without having the second signature is long and involves appearing in the Family Courts.
So, especially if you wish to take a child, even newborn babies, out of the country, make your application in good time and ensure that you have all the necessary signatures or permissions before going to the Passport Office at all.
If you need the second signature or if you do not have all the required documentation, the application will be sent back to you.
• Those travelling to the United States of America who want to avail of the visa waiver programme (VWP) have to have a valid electronic passport with this symbol on the cover:
If you haven’t got this, you can still travel to the USA, but you have to apply for a standard non-immigrant visa, including being interviewed at the USA embassy.
• Passport Express is a wonderful service, through your local post office and at present claims to have a passport issued in 15 working days from receipt of the application. However, at busy times it is not always possible to turn around an application in this time and remember it is working days, not just 15 days. Don’t use Passport Express if you are travelling in less than a month!
If you post your application, for example, on a Thursday evening, it may not be delivered the next day, but the following Monday. Then, count 15 working days (three weeks), in the best possible scenario, without any delays, queries or public holidays, before it is put back in the post to you and take account of how long that might take. Even with everything perfectly in order in the application, and a next-day-delivery of the passport back to you, that could be a month.
Keep this in mind and apply early, long before your travel date. You can check on www.passports.ie to see how long the turnaround time is as you apply. This period is updated on the website every day.
• The alternative to Passport Express is to make an appointment with the passport office, using the on-line service and go to Dublin, with all your forms filled in, the appropriate photographs and supporting documentation.