Voting by post in the referendum on 25 May

If you cannot vote at your local polling station because of work, or because you are studying full-time somewhere else in Ireland, you can still apply to vote by post.

To be eligible, you must already be registered to vote on the current Register of Electors.

Download form PVS2 (pdf) from checktheregister.ie, fill in your details and ask your employer or college to fill out the appropriate certificate on the form. (There are detailed instructions on the form.)

You must get the completed form to your local authority by Saturday 28 April 2018.

Electric vehicles – financial incentives

A new scheme will offer drivers of electric vehicles reduced rates on certain toll roads from summer 2018.

Under the scheme, electric vehicles using an electronic toll tag will get a discount of either 50% (battery electric vehicles) or 25% (plug-in hybrid vehicles) on selected tolls until 2022.

Other incentives include grant support for new purchasesrelief on Vehicle Registration Tax and help with the cost of installing a home charger.

Read more about electric vehicles on seai.ie.

Are you registered to vote? – there’s still time to register if not

You can use checktheregister.ie to see if you’re registered to vote.

If not, you can still apply to be registered in time for the upcoming referendum. Your application must reach your local authority by the right closing date.

The closing date for the supplement to the main Register of Electors is Tuesday 8 May 2018.

The closing date for the supplement to the Special Voters List or the supplement to the Postal Voters List is Saturday 28 April 2018.

Application forms are available on checktheregister.ie.

Know Your Rights: Renewing a passport

Question

I have a valid passport, but it will expire two weeks before I go on holiday. Will two weeks give me enough time to get a new one?

Answer (March 2018)

You don’t have to wait until your passport expires to renew it. However, if you apply for a new passport before your current one expires, your new passport is valid from when you apply, rather than from when your previous passport expires.

The website of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, dfa.ie, lists the current average processing times for different types of passport applications. The quickest way to renew your passport is by using the online application service. You can use this service to renew your passport if it expires any time in the next 12 months.

You must submit a digital photo with your online application. You can get a friend to take your photo with a digital camera or smartphone or you can go to a photo provider, for example a pharmacy or a photographer, who will give you a copy of your digital photo to upload. Alternatively, you can go to one of the Irish photo booth services listed on passportphoto.ie, which will take your photo and provide you with a code. If you enter this code when applying for your passport online, you don’t need to upload the photo yourself.

Online renewal isn’t available for children’s passports, so if you want to renew your family’s passports together, you have to use Passport Express, the postal application service. There is an extra charge of €9.50 per application for using Passport Express. However, if you are renewing passports for the whole family you can use the ‘Family Application’ option for €16, where up to four passport applications can be sent in one envelope. Alternatively, you can renew your own passport online and use Passport Express to renew any passports for children.

Health insurance abroad

The European Health Insurance Card lets you access public healthcare services when travelling in the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland.
You can apply online if you are currently resident in Ireland and already have either a medical card or a Drugs Payment Scheme card. Otherwise, you can download an application form (pdf) and return the completed form to your Local Health Office at least 1 month before you travel.
European Health Insurance Cards are not renewed automatically when they expire. You can apply to renew your Card online.
There is more information about the Card on hse.ie and in our document.

Know Your Rights: Back to Work Family Dividend

Question

I am getting Jobseeker’s Allowance and have just been offered a job. My husband looks after our two children at home. Can I get any social welfare assistance if I stop signing on and go back to work?

Answer (March 2018)

There is a scheme for people with children who stop claiming a jobseeker’s payment, or a one-parent family payment, because they are in – or are taking up – work or self-employment. The scheme is called the Back to Work Family Dividend (BTWFD).

The BTWFD is a weekly payment for up to two years after you start work. For the first year in employment, you are paid the equivalent of any Increase for a Qualified Child that you were getting on your jobseeker’s payment or one-parent family payment (up to a maximum of four children). You get half of that amount weekly for the second year.

To qualify, you must have at least one qualified child and have been getting one of the following payments: Jobseeker’s Allowance or Jobseeker’s Benefit (for at least 12 months), One-Parent Family Payment, or Jobseeker’s Transitional payment. You and all members of your family (including your adult dependant) must sign off all primary social welfare payments.

The BTWFD can be paid with other social welfare payments including Working Family Payment (formerly called Family Income Supplement), Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance, Child Benefit, Domiciliary Care Allowance and Rent Supplement.

You can get BTWFD for up to two years if you stay in employment. If you or your husband claim a primary social welfare payment within two years of you starting work, the BTWFD payment will stop. If you lose your job and claim a social welfare payment, the BTWFD stops. However, it may restart if you get a new job. You can get a maximum of two restarts per claim.

Registering to vote

Eligible voters can still apply to be registered in time for the referendum on 25 May 2018.
Applications for inclusion in the supplement to the Register of Electors must reach your local authority by Tuesday 8 May 2018.
To avail of certain facilities for voters with disabilities, such as voting by post or from a hospital or nursing home, eligible voters must apply for inclusion in the supplement to the Special Voters List or the supplement to the Postal Voters List. These applications must reach your local authority by Saturday 28 April 2018.
Application forms are available on checktheregister.ie.