The number of Britons applying for German citizenship has surged following the United Kingdom’s vote to leave the EU last year.
In total, some 2,865 British people applied for German citizenship in 2016 - a 365% increase on the previous year.
With Britain’s impending exit from the bloc due in March 2019, it’s expected that British citizens will no longer be entitled to live and work automatically in the most European Union countries - Dublin has said Britons will retain their current rights in Ireland as they were granted by the 1923 Common Travel Area before the EU existed.
However, post-Brexit, a German passport will confer on an individual the continued right to live and work in the other 26 EU countries.
"The link to Brexit seems clear,” said Ostatistics. "This is the highest ever level of registered British citizens."
Only 1.6% of German citizenship applications come from EU citizens but it’s thought that number will only increase over the next two years and Britain’s exit from the bloc approaches.
Under German law anyone who has lived in Germany for eight years (or been married to a German for six) is eligible to apply; applicants then take a language and general knowledge test.
In addition, anyone whose ancestors fled Nazi Germany is eligible and a significant number of those individuals live in Britain.
One such individual is Rabbi Julia Neuberger who served for six years as Chancellor of University of Ulster.
Her mother fled the Nazis to England and the 67-year-old member of the House of Lords has always felt a strong connection to Europe.
”When Britain voted for Brexit, I decided to reclaim one part of my history: my German origins,” she told the New European. “I am a European as well as a proud Briton. I have many intersecting identities. I’m British, a passionate monarchist, a Londoner, European, female, Jewish, with strong Irish connections.”
Applicants for Irish passports have also surged amongst people living in the United Kingdom with over 20,000 first time applicants in only a year.
Ireland’s former Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan has said, “It’s reasonable to suggest that Brexit is a factor in what are record numbers of applications.
“I think it’s also reasonable to assume that there are large numbers of people of Irish descent who now feel that they would like to remain as EU citizens in what is a changing time in relations between Ireland and the UK.”
Anyone with an Irish born or naturalized Irish parent or grandparent is currently entitled to Irish citizenship, meaning the number of British citizens able to apply could be as high as 6.7 million.
Such a number equates to over 10% of the British population and greater than the number of people currently living on the island of Ireland.