Northerners reassured over public services card requirement for passports

Simon Coveney said from the end of next year anyone applying to renew their passport in the south will need a public services card. Picture by Brian Lawless/PA Wire

The Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin has moved to reassure people north of the border that they will not require a public services card to secure an Irish passport.

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney yesterday confirmed that by the end of next year, anyone applying to renew their passport in the south will need to present a copy of their public services card.

Introduced in 2011, initially for the Republic's social welfare claimants, a public services card is an ID card that enables holders to access a range of public services easily.

The card is already required when applying for a passport in certain circumstances. However, Mr Coveney said it will be needed in all cases from late next year.

When asked yesterday on RTE Radio's Morning Ireland if the card would be required when applying for passports, Mr Coveney said: "That's not the case today but we hope to move to that in future.

"The whole point in having a public services card is that there is a single point of information so that people can access public services whether that's a driver's licence whether it's a passport."

The ministers said it would take "some time" for the Passport Office introduce the requirement, adding that he expected it to be introduced in around 12 months.

But the Department of Foreign Affairs said there were currently no plans to extend the public services card requirement north of the border.

"The purpose of the public services card is to help people access a wide range of public services in Ireland," a spokesman said.

"There are no plans at present to extend requirements for services, including passports to Irish citizens in Northern Ireland."

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