European readers will no doubt be aware of the national identity cards offered to citizens of many countries in the EU. Indeed, all European Union members excluding the UK and Denmark now issue identity cards, which can be used as an alternative or addition to a standard passport when travelling within Europe.
For millions of people these credit card-sized passports have become a way of life. They’re easier to carry around than a full-size passport and they’re sturdier meaning fewer replacements are necessary than paper passport holders demand. In addition, the way they can be easily popped into a purse or wallet means they may be of less interest to fraudsters, in comparison to the larger and bulkier paper passports.
Of course passports aren’t only used for international travel; they can also serve as a useful proof of photo ID. For this reason many teenagers are obliged to carry around their passport on a night out in order to prove their identity (and age) in bars and nightclubs as requested.
Now, however, Ireland is set to introduce passport cards – something that neighbour Great Britain is a long way away from introducing.
The cards will be made available from this summer and will not just allow for easy identification but also effortless travel within the EU. For tourists and potential expats alike travelling around Europe is set to become even easier than ever before.
Not only do the cards do away with the necessity of a paper passport for European travel (though the old-style passports will still be needed for travel outside of Europe) but they can also be useful for cases where your classic passport may be unavailable. Examples cited are situations where your paper passport has been returned to be renewed or updated, or where a passport has been surrendered for a visa application.
These cards can also act as a useful resource for people who are unlucky enough to lose their passport while travelling. Previously this would have been a problem.
It should be noted that passport cards will not cover travel outside of Europe, where upon the standard paper passport will once again be required.
Irish citizens interested in obtaining one of the new passport cards should be aware that they will not be issued by default to all Irish citizens. Instead, anyone seeking such a card will need to manually apply themselves, a process which is set to cost around 35 euros.