Want a new passport?

There’s an app for that (and a card). The United States and Ireland are among the first countries in the world to issue credit card-sized passport cards to their respective citizens that can be used for travel abroad – within the European Union only, for Ireland. The Irish card can also be used as an app for iOS and so can be downloaded on iTunes. All the usual requirements are in place to get a passport card, including not having “red eye” in your passport photos. Ireland accepts black and white photographs, which in fact are recommended, as that’s how they’re printed on to the card.

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Can you use a selfie for passport photo? You can try, but as passports authorities the world over have a whole raft of rules for what’s acceptable for passport photos, you might not get very far. For starters, there can’t be anything in the photos except you, your head and shoulders – that includes objects, scenery and just about anything else. Plus, the background has to be a certain neutral colour, usually white or light cream; and you absolutely cannot alter the photos in any way, either manually by cutting it or using computer software. Duckface is definitely out.

Getting a passport for a baby or a child can be a thorny issue for parents who are separated. There may be fears about not knowing when and where the child or baby will be taken abroad, and even fears about them not being returned at all. Here are the bare facts, to help you to decide what to do if this situation applies to you.

Either parent can apply for a passport, if that parent has ‘parental responsibility’ (‘PR’). Mums always automatically have PR (unless the child is later adopted). Dads have PR if they are a) married to mum (at any time after the child is born); b) have a court order granting residence or PR; c) have their name on the birth certificate if the child was born after 1st December 2003.

A parent with PR does not need the other parent to sign the passport application form but does need their permission if they want to take them out of the country for more than 28 days. The applicant parent will need to arrange proper child’s  passport photo (or baby’s passport photos) to be sent with the application.

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