Online applications for Irish passports ‘being examined’

22 Mar 2007

The Department of Foreign Affairs is looking into ways to allow Irish citizens to apply for passports online, has learned.

Options to enable people to apply electronically for new passports using dynamic online forms are being examined, a spokesperson revealed, but ceded that there are stumbling blocks yet to be overcome. These revolve around such matters as producing signed and certified photographs and including stamps and signatures of gardai..

Passport information has always been available on the Department of Foreign Affairs website. However, a new site was introduced recently and expanded as part of an ongoing revamp of the Department of Foreign Affairs’ website.

The site provides accessible information to Irish citizens worldwide on all matters relating to Irish passports, such as how to apply for a passport, documentation requirements, requirements for minors, current fees, photo requirements and what to do if a passport is lost or stolen overseas.

The site allows for citizens to download and print off application forms for passports but does not allow citizens to actually fill in the forms online and transmit over the web.

“The Department of Foreign Affairs is considering the options available on electronic application forms. The requirement to produce a certified photograph and signature makes this process more difficult,” a spokesperson said.

Last August, the Department of Foreign Affairs introduced the first Irish e-Passports, which include biometric chips that are designed to meet requirements of the US visa waiver programme.

The chips include securely stored biographical information and digital images identical to the information visually displayed on the physical passport. Special chip readers use digital signature technology to verify the authenticity of the data on the chip, alerting officials if the information has been tampered with.

By John Kennedy