An Irish politician is encouraging those who qualify for a British passport to consider applying for the UK travel document once the United Kingdom (UK) leaves the European Union (EU) next year. Roscommon senator Terry Leyden claims those who apply should “not be ashamed” for possessing a British passport if it means to travel and access to the UK will be easier. While British Prime Minister Theresa May is set to formally begin departure proceedings early in 2017, the specifics of the UK’s future relationship with the EU, and in particular with its closest neighbor, Ireland, are still unknown.  

Leyden, a former Fianna Fáil TD, told the Roscommon Daily that there are certain conditions under which Irish citizens can apply for a British passport, which would make access to the UK easier in the event of a “hard-Brexit,” the term being used to describe the tougher terms of departure from the EU that could see a hard border and border controls return between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

According to the UK passport website, Republic of Ireland citizens can apply for a British subject passport under certain conditions.

The website states: “You’re a British subject if you were a citizen of the Republic of Ireland on 31 December 1948 and made a claim to remain a British subject.

“If you didn’t make a claim to remain a British subject you can apply to the Home Secretary to become a British subject if either:

  • you’ve been in Crown service for the UK government
  • you’re associated with the UK or a British overseas territory by descent, residence or another way.”

For those born in the UK before 1 January 1983, UK citizenship was granted from this date if you were a citizen of the UK and colonies, or if you had the “right to abode” in the UK.

If born after this date, you don’t automatically receive citizenship but can receive it by proving that a parent was a citizen or settled in the UK when you were born.

In many cases, British citizenship can also be acquired “by descent” if one of your parents was a citizen at the time of your birth, even if you were born overseas.

In the wake of the Brexit referendum result in June, a massive number of British people, especially those living in Northern Ireland began to apply for an Irish passport, fearing that easy travel between the EU would not be a possibility on a British passport in the future. For much of the year since the referendum, applications have been double what they were for the same period in 2015, with several locations in Northern Ireland even running out of application forms in the few days immediately after the voting results were announced.

Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny has said he believes the surge will continue as long as there is uncertainty about the UK’s future relationship with the EU and how this will affect the free movement of British people throughout the remaining countries in the Union.

There has been speculation that Britons will require a visa to travel to these countries once they officially leave while others claim they will instead be asked to register online before travel. Britons may also face fees such as that charged to non-EU nationals who need to pay for a visa to enter the Schengen area. This could be as much as $67 (€60).

Once again Taoiseach Kenny is sure that these proposals will lead to more applications for Irish passports if they become the supported model. In August, the Irish embassy in London showed a jump of 106 per cent in the number of applications submitted. Applications from Northern Ireland also rocketed by almost 80%.

In October, British Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed that the UK will trigger Article 50 of the EU Lisbon Treaty (the move that will officially begin the divorce with the EU) by the end of March 2017, with plans to complete their departure within two years of that date.

Despite the Leave campaign winning a UK majority in June’s referendum with 52%, Northern Ireland voted by 56% to remain in the EU, a stance also held by the majority in Scotland, and in England’s capital city London. As a result, two legal cases have been brought against the British government, one in Northern Ireland and one in London, claiming May does not have the right to force their departure from the EU.

The British government state they do not need parliamentary approval to initiate the formal process of Brexit. The London High Court, however, ruled in favor of Gina Miller, an investment manager and lead claimant in the London case earlier in the month.

To find out if you are eligible for a British passport, apply here. Passports generally cost $128.16 (£102.86).

Would you apply for a British passport? Let us know in the comments section below.