All U.S. citizens, even infants, need a valid passport to enter Ireland for stays of up to 90 days. Citizens of the United Kingdom, when traveling on flights departing from Great Britain, do not need a passport to enter Ireland but it's advisable to carry some form of photo ID. Passport requirements for Northern Ireland are the same as for the republic.

We're always surprised at how few Americans have passports—only 25% at this writing. This number is expected to grow in coming years, now that it is impossible to reenter the United States from trips to neighboring Canada or Mexico without one.

U.S. passports are valid for 10 years. You must apply in person if you're getting a passport for the first time; if your previous passport was lost, stolen, or damaged; or if your previous passport has expired and was issued more than 15 years ago or when you were under 16. All children under 18 must appear in person to apply for or renew a passport. Both parents must accompany any child under 14 (or send a notarized statement with their permission) and provide proof of their relationship to the child.

Before your trip, make two copies of your passport's data page (one for someone at home and another for you to carry separately). Or scan the page and e-mail it to someone at home and/or yourself.

There are 13 regional passport offices, as well as 7,000 passport acceptance facilities in post offices, public libraries, and other governmental offices. If you're renewing a passport, you can do so by mail. Forms are available at passport acceptance facilities and online.

The cost to apply for a new passport is $100 for adults, $85 for children under 16; renewals are $75. Allow six weeks for processing, both for first-time passports and renewals. For an expediting fee of $60 you can reduce this time to about two weeks. If your trip is less than two weeks away, you can get a passport even more rapidly by going to a passport office with the necessary documentation. Private expediters can get things done in as little as 48 hours, but charge hefty fees for their services.

U.S. Passport Information

U.S. Department of State (877/487–2778.

U.S. Passport and Visa Expediters

A. Briggs Passport & Visa Expeditors (800/806–0581 or 202/338–0111.

American Passport Express (800/455–5166 or 603/559–9888.

Passport Express (800/362–8196.

Travel Document Systems (800/874–5100 or 202/638–3800.

Travel the World Visas (202/223–8822 or 866/886–8472.

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