Irish passport applications see Brexit surge as more Brits apply than ever

27 December 2019, 06:20

Holders of Irish passports retain the right to work in the EU after Brexit
Holders of Irish passports retain the right to work in the EU after Brexit. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Ireland has issued almost one million passports in 2019 with peaks around Brexit deadlines, while applications from the UK were almost double.

While some Brits are concerned about travel to the EU after Brexit, others have applied for an Irish passport which would see them retain the travel rights of an EU citizen.

Holders of an Irish passport would have the freedom to work anywhere within the EU and have the right to “visa-free or visa-on-arrival” travel to 172 countries around the world, according to global advisory firm Henley & Partner’s Visa Restrictions Index.

A spokesperson for the Irish government said the number of first-time applicants from the UK peaked around this year's Brexit deadlines of March and October with almost 94,000 Brits applying for an EU passport.

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said: "2019 was another bumper year for the Passport Service.

"The award-winning Passport Online expanded in 2019 to include first-time applicants in Ireland, Northern Ireland, Great Britain and Europe.

"Irish citizens including children can also renew their passports online 24/7, from anywhere in the world."

The right to live and work in the EU has been central to the Brexit debate
The right to live and work in the EU has been central to the Brexit debate. Picture: PA

More than 900,000 Irish travel documents were issued in 2019.

During peak periods, more than 5,800 applications were submitted from around the world in a single day.

Continuing the record-breaking trend, total monthly applications exceeded 100,000 in January, March, April and May.

Brexit has seen a surge in demand from Irish citizens living in Northern Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales.

The tallies for February and March cleared 11,000 each month coming up to the Brexit deadline.

October also saw a surge to 7,208 but the Halloween deadline for the EU withdrawal was again missed.

Mr Coveney added: "I want to thank the staff of the Passport Service who have worked hard in recent years to ensure the Government provides a modern, secure and efficient passport service.

"The Irish passport is a valuable document and we continue to strengthen all processes to prevent fraud and maintain its integrity and security."

Irish passport holders will have some rights holders of a British passport do not after Brexit
Irish passport holders will have some rights holders of a British passport do not after Brexit. Picture: PA

The Irish Republican Party's spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Niall Collins, who said they show that "the reality of Brexit appears to be filtering down".

"Since the referendum in June 2016, we have seen applications for Irish passports from the UK and Northern Ireland increase from 48,186 in 2016 to 85,517 in the first eight months of this year," he said.

“The Irish passport has always been held in high esteem, and it’s becoming obvious that Brexit has compounded the demand as people living in the UK and Northern Ireland become increasingly worried about what impact Brexit will have on their daily lives and their ability to travel."

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