Irish citizens living in Britain can now renew their Irish passports via photobooths
The service, which is operated by Photo-Me, provides users with a unique code once they have taken their photos. They can then use this to complete their applications online via the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs website.
It means that the entire passport renewal application process now takes less than ten minutes.
Since the pictures are taken at designated booths and then sent on securely, there is no need for forms to be witnessed or be signed by officials.
The first UK booth was installed last week at the Birmingham Irish Association with the Irish Ambassador to Great Britain in attendance to test it out.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar left Downing Street confident that London and Dublin can not only weather Brexit but that devolution will return to Stormont.
“I am delighted to see the Photo-Me Irish passport photos being extended to Britain,” he said. “The new online passport 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.”
It will soon be rolled out across the UK to Photo-Me’s existing site partners – including major supermarkets – in a number of major cities such as London, Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh, Newcastle and Cardiff.
The first London booths will be installed in early July with a number being housed in Sainsbury’s supermarkets, since they are a leading partner in the project.
Serge Crasnianski, chief executive of Photo-Me, explained that the service is highly secure and that it would make passport renewals much easier for the Irish in Britain.
“Identification security is an ever-increasing area of concern for governments across Europe and our system offers secure digital photo ID capture, collection and delivery for official documents,” 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 technology was launched in Ireland back in March in partnership with the Irish government. By the end of 2017, there will be 300 photobooths boasting the service in the Republic and 98 per cent of the population will live within 5km of one.
There has been a surge in Irish passport applications among those living in the UK since the country decided to leave the EU following a referendum last year. The Irish passport office was forced to hire extra staff to deal with the rush and subsequent backlog and the Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Charles Flanagan, previously stated that the demand is likely to be sustained.
The Department revealed that applications reached peak levels on 28 March – the day Prime Minister Theresa May triggered Article 50, formally starting the Brexit process – as it took in 722 requests.
Spikes were also seen on the following days as Mrs May announced that there would be “no turning back” when it came to the UK’s move away from the EU.
Anyone who has Irish parents or, in some instances, an Irish grandparent is entitled to an Irish passport. It is estimated that some 16 million British citizens meet this criteria – more than three times the population of Ireland.