Record numbers apply for 'EU passports' in 2017

PUBLISHED: 13:44 09 January 2018 | UPDATED: 09:07 10 January 2018

The current burgundy passports in the UK. Photograph: Katie Collins/PA Wire

The current burgundy passports in the UK. Photograph: Katie Collins/PA Wire

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Record numbers applied for Irish passports in 2017 in a bid to remain EU citizens after Brexit.

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More than 160,000 people living in Northern Ireland and Britain applied for Irish passports in 2017 bringing the total number of Irish passports issued last year to a record-breaking 779,000.

“The number of applicants from Northern Ireland and Great Britain has continued to rise. Overall, almost 20% of the total number of applications received by the passport service this year were from Irish citizens in Northern Ireland or Great Britain,” claimed Simon Coveney, Ireland’s minister for foreign affairs.

The rush to get an Irish passport in Britain and Northern Ireland has been linked to the Brexit vote. An Irish passport allows the holder to remain an EU citizen following Brexit.

Those with Irish parents or grandparents born in Ireland are entitled to a passport. This, partnered with the fact that Britain allows for dual citizenship, explains why demand here has soared.

Some politicians have even encouraged the idea with Ian Paisley Jr, high profile DUP MP, Leave campaigner and an opponent of a united Ireland, recommending to constituents: “If you are entitled to a second passport then take one… my advice is to take as many as you can, especially if you travel to different world trouble zones.”

Before the Brexit vote the number of Irish passports issued in Britain stood at approximately 50,000 a year.

Other ways to gain an EU passport

If you do not have a parent or grandparent living in Ireland it becomes a little trickier to acquire an EU passport, but here are some tips for those that want to keep the status…

• Like Ireland, a number of other EU countries offer a way to gain citizenship if you can prove ancestral links. Those that have lived in a country continuously for at least five years, can demonstrate good knowledge of the language and the culture stand a good chance of gaining a passport. However, whether or not you will be able to freely move backwards and forwards to the UK after Brexit will be dependent on the end deal with the EU.

• Countries like Cyprus have a program called the ‘Scheme for Naturalization of non-Cypriot investors by exception’ where investing a cool €2.5m in government bonds, financial assets, or major infrastructure projects will earn you a passport without the requirement to live there.

• Alternatively, marriage to a spouse from another member state is a possibility, but many countries will require you to live in said location for a number of years. France does not require you to live in the country, but you must have been married and lived with your French spouse for five years.

• Finally, if you would prefer not to marry, three years with the French Foreign Legion will make you eligible for a French passport. The downside to this plan is that you could end up in military service.

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