According to the Irish passport office, a record breaking 700,000 Irish passports were issued so far in 2016 with still a month left to go. The Department of Foreign Affairs revealed this is the first time over 700,000 passports have been issued in one year by the Irish passport service, jumping from 669, 806 in 2015 and sure to grow further throughout December. The Department believe the jump in applications to be a result of increased travel abroad amongst Irish citizens with a further increase coming from the Brexit referendum result. There were massive jumps in the numbers of people applying for an Irish passport from the UK and Northern Ireland since the UK voted to leave the EU in June.
As of October 2016, 635,635 applications for passports were made compared to 566,142 for 2015. During the month of October, a further 37,158 were made, increasing again further to reach the 700k mark on Monday, November 28.
One of the largest spikes in applications has come from Northern Ireland where there was an increase of just over 12,500 applications, from 46,396 last year to 59,043 in 2016.
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.
While there were signs of an increase in applications for Irish passports from Britain in the first half of 2016--almost a 20 percent increases compared to the same period in 2015--this jumped to a 72.58 percent increase in July following the Brexit vote and continued to increase to 119.12 percent in September. In Britain throughout October, an extra 2,070 passport applications were made compared to October 2015, reducing o a 70 per cent increase again.
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 percent in the number of applications submitted. Applications from Northern Ireland also rocketed by almost 80%.