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For any Irish citizens hoping to renew their passports before the holiday season, they may be in for a bit of a wait. In the first quarter of 2017, there has been a 68% increase in Irish passport applications from Northern Ireland and Britain. The increase in demand for Irish passports has been linked to the Brexit referendum last June, and the triggering of Article 50 last month.
In the first quarter of 2017, over 27,000 passport applications were received from Northern Ireland and over 23,000 were received from Britain. For the same period in 2016, there were 16,581 and 13,722 applications from Northern Ireland and Britain respectively. Although there are other contributing factors that could have led to this increase, Brexit is thought to have had some impact.
The Republic’s Passport Service cited the Euro 2016 games as one possible reason for the surge in outbound travel, and thus the increase in passport applications. New travel requirements for visitors to the US will also have led to an increase in demand for passports, as all travellers now require a biometric passport.
Under Irish law, individuals whose parents or grandparents were born in Ireland are eligible for an Irish passport. The Republic’s Passport Service reported that “the department does not ask people why they are applying for a passport, only whether they are eligible.” If you’re wondering if you can get an Irish passport, we’ve written a handy guide to help you determine if you are eligible.
In response to the increase in demand for first-time passports, the Republic’s Passport Service has launched an online renewal service for Irish passport holders. With more and more people expected to apply for an Irish passport over the coming years, it is thought this online service will ease pressure on the Irish passport service. The online service won’t be available for children or first-time applicants, and passport holders will be able to apply for a renewal from anywhere in the world. First-time applicants will have to go through more rigorous checks in order to ensure they are eligible, and this could cause problems for the passport service if demand continues to increase as the Brexit negotiations unfold.
This isn’t the only way that application processes have been impacted by the Brexit vote. For those applying for EEA PR, the process is set to get a lot easier following the introduction of an online application and European passport return service. EEA PR will grant EU citizens who have been living in the UK with permanent residency, regardless of the outcome of Brexit. In order to apply, applicants were previously required to submit their passport for the duration of the application process, but a check-in process is being trialled to allow applicants to take their passports to their local authority for verification and copying.