What is a Public Services Card and do I need one?

Minister Paschal Donohoe is urging anyone over 18 who has not signed up for one to do so

What is a Public Services Card and do I need one?

Image: Leah Farrell via RollingNews.ie

The Public Services Card was introduced by the Department of Social Protection in 2012 to allow for easier access to public services.

It was designed to replace the Social Services Card, used to collect social welfare payments and for the Free Travel Pass.

Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Paschal Donohoe is now calling on anyone over the age of 18 who has not yet signed up for a Public Services Card (PSC) to do so. He was speaking in Dublin today as he signed up for his own PSC.

What is the card for?

The card is designed to assist people in accessing a range of Government services, and will become the means by which access to public services will be verified and delivered in Ireland.

Minister Donohoe said the technology contained within the card should make it harder for people to use false identities or make multiple benefit claims.

He also said the card will enable the State to provide better public services at reduced cost to taxpayer.

If this card has been around since 2012, why is it important now?

When the Public Services Card was launched it initially focused on social welfare payments such as Child and Jobseekers’ Benefit, as well as the Free Travel Pass and State pensions.

However, it is now being rolled out to other public services - and anyone over the age of 18 can sign up for the card. 

Is it a National Identity Card?

Minister Donohoe has said it is not a national ID card because you are not required to carry it with you at all times.

So, why do I need to get one?

You need a PSC if you want to access certain public services such as social welfare payments, free travel passes or apply for a new passport.

Can I get a passport without having a Public Services Card?

If you are renewing your existing passport then you do not need a PSC, as your current passport and other ID is appropriate.

The card only applies to all first-time passport applicants aged 18 and above who are resident in Ireland, with effect from March 29th 2016.

This requirement also applies to a small number of adult passport applicants whose last passport was issued before January 1st 2005 and has since been reported lost, stolen or damaged.

How much does the card cost?

The Public Services Card is issued free of charge.

How can I get one?

If you are over 18 and have not yet signed up for a Public Services Card, you can do so today by making an appointment on mywelfare.ie or by calling into your local Social Welfare office.

Application for the card is done via face-to-face registration using 'SAFE', what does this mean?

SAFE stands for Standard Authentication Framework Environment.

At SAFE registration, a person's photograph and signature are digitally recorded and answers to some basic security questions are also captured.

Customer mobile phone details are verified to enable future online access to mygovID.ie

Why do they need all this information?

The purpose of the card was to come up with a single way for citizens to access public services without having to give the same information to multiple organisations.

The SAFE authenticated data facilitates this by establishing and verifying an individual's identity for future access to public services.

The department has said this will not only benefit the public, but also allow public sector organisations to operate more efficiently.

The photo-matching software has already led to success in tackling multiple claims fraud and has resulted in a number of convictions in court.