It may come as some surprise to you but I’ve recently been applying for an Irish passport. Many of you already know my logo image which is a picture of me holding my British passport as I look inside. So why did I apply for an Irish passport?
Well there are a few reasons why, one being that I can. Whilst I was born and raised in England, both of my parents are Irish. As a result through my parentage I have a claim to Irish citizenship. I’ve always called myself half Irish anyway and now it is official.
How can you have dual citizenship?
As it turns out, being British or Irish does allow you to claim dual citizenship if eligible. Some countries, like China, don’t allow dual nationality so you have to decide exactly where you feel most connection or security if you have options.
The UK and Ireland are less stringent. In fact, as part of my Irish passport application I sent an expired British passport of mine as legal documentary evidence that I am who I claimed to be on my application.
Residents of Northern Ireland are in a rather unique position. The people born there have a choice to claim an Irish or a British passport, or both. By being born in NI they qualify for either one. So to answer the question to whether you can have both an Irish and a British passport the answer is yes.
So now that we’ve established my eligibility, why did I apply for an Irish passport?
Well of course I am very proud of my Irish connections. I spent dozens of childhood holidays in Ireland, particularly Dublin. I love the Irish people and have a very personal connection to them.
Secondly, being Irish could work in my favour as a traveller. The history of the British Empire is well known the world over. This is both a good and a bad thing.
I remember in 2000 and 2001 when I was travelling from Saudi Arabia with colleagues of other nationalities to various places around the world. I noticed differences in the way we were treated with visa applications. Admittedly the differences were more so between myself and South Africans when going to Egypt and India, however there were differences between British and Irish passports entering such as the U.A.E.
I also consulted with our corporate travel agent who indicated whilst there is nothing set out in writing, it is understood that the US looks more favourably on the Irish traveller. Heck, what’s to stop me going over there and celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day again?
On the positive side the UK is still quite influential in world affairs and diplomacy. It maybe not quite as it used to be but it is still considered a world power of some sort. When it comes to diplomatic relations the UK could hold more sway, have a better network of consulates and so on. However, the British government is held in contempt or a level of distrust in some parts of the world.
Also should I ever run into political terrorism it is not unknown for British citizens, as well as Americans to be singled out. This is exactly what happened in the Mumbai terror attacks of 2008. I am proud of my British connections but also equally proud of my Irish ones too. If one nationality has more likelihood of keeping me alive in the face of a deranged lunatic with a rifle then I’ll happily chose the one to save my life.
There is another reason why I decided to apply for an Irish passport. That is to have another passport. When my travel plans can be so varied I don’t want to be held back on travel because my passport has gone to a visa office. Such as applying for an Indian or Chinese visa can take some time. This might well be when I need to be out of the country anyway.
I already hold 2 legal British passports.
A couple of decades ago it was fairly easy to get a second passport for business reasons which I often did. Then the British government started tightening up the requirements. At first each replacement 2nd passport required a covering letter from my employer explaining that I needed another passport to allow me to travel with my job whilst visa applications were processed.
Then more recently, this letter from the employer requires a list of visa requiring countries that I am likely to visit with my role. The last I knew at least 5 countries on a specified list had to fit my role to be eligible for a second passport.
It was all getting a little complicated. Whilst I was and still am legally eligible it just seemed to be too much of a hassle. I’ve been blessed with Irish parents so I decided to use it to my advantage.
So what are the requirements and eligibility for an Irish passport?
Here are the details I found out as I went through my Irish passport application in late 2015.
Who can apply for an Irish passport?
Irish citizens can apply for an Irish passport. An Irish citizen is someone born in Ireland or of immediate descent from an Irish citizen. If you have an Irish grandparent who was born in Ireland then you can also claim Irish citizenship but must claim via first registering on the Foreign Births Register.
What do you need to submit with an Irish passport application?
Since this was my very first Irish passport application the information required was more detailed than anything which maybe required for a replacement passport. Here are the requirements of information needed for a new passport application:-
– 4 passport photos (see photo requirements below), of which 2 of the pictures should be signed by a witness to your application. Note your witness needs to provide contact details. (Mine was called to verify that she was a legitimate witness and knew me.)
– certified copy of some photographic ID (such as a driving licence, college ID card etc). The certification per my form requested police verification. However the rules also allowed a passport from another country hence I used one of my old British passports
– Proof of name such as a bank statement or a payslip
– Proof of your address, an electricity or other utility bill will do for this
– Plus the fee for processing (costs in early 2016 are listed below)
– Proof of citizenship (see below)
Irish passport photo requirements
To support your Irish passport claim you need to submit identical pictures of yourself. They must be a centred headshot picture where your full face fits most of the image. Your photos must be a minimum size of 35mm x 45mm and a maximum photo size of 38mm x 50mm. Photos must be portrait and not landscape. The picture should be no more than 6 months old and show you in a natural pose, not smiling or pulling a funny face. You should also be looking straight at the camera without any head wear unless it is for religious reasons. The image should be clear and with a white or grey background.
How much is an Irish passport?
As of the early 2016 there were 2 sets of prices for the various types of passport.
Applying by post cost:-
– 10 year, 32 page passport cost €80
– 10 year, 66 page passport €110
– 5 year passport for a child aged 3-17 cost €26.50
– for children under 3 you are allowed a 3 year passport costing €16
If you apply in person at a Passport Office it will cost:-
– 10 year, 32 page passport €95
– 10 year, 66 page passport €125
– 5 year passport for a child aged 3-17 cost €41.50
– for children under 3 years of age costs €31
Additional charges apply if you require your passport within 5 days.
Proof of citizenship when applying for an Irish passport
Born in Ireland –
– you need to provide your birth certificate. If you have married and changed your name then you need to provide your civil marriage/civil partnership certificate
Born abroad to Irish parents –
– your own birth certificate
– your civil marriage / civil partnership certificate if it resulted in a change of name
– birth certificate of your Irish born parent
– your parent’s civil marriage certificate (if they married)
If you’ve been adopted under Irish law, are a citizen through foreign birth registration,
are a citizen through naturalisation or post-nuptial citizenship then you will find the documentary requirements listed here.
Where to apply for an Irish passport
People living in Ireland can obtain a passport application form from a Post Office or Garda stations.
You can apply for an Irish passport at the Irish embassy or consulate relevant to where you are based in the world. For myself, I applied from the UK mainland so applied to the Irish Passport Office in London:-
114A Cromwell Road
How long does an Irish passport take?
Like any passport office the processing time can vary widely depending upon the time of year and how busy the office is. As a general rule always try to apply a few months in advance of planned travel so you can safely cover any time delays.
The guide from the Irish passport office is that if the application is in person or via the Passport Express service used in Ireland it can take roughly 10 working days. Peak periods take longer. You should give a leniency of at least 3-4 weeks.
If you live outside of Ireland and are having your application processed by the local embassy or consulate then allow 6-8 weeks. My application was processed in about half of that time, mind you I applied late in the year.
Tracking Irish passport applications online
It is possible to track your Irish passport application online. Just take note of your application number before you send off your form. Then enter your tracking number here to see how the application is progressing.
Is it worth getting an Irish passport?
Now that I’ve finished applying for an Irish passport it feels good to have something I’ve long felt like doing. I have a symbol of my family history, something very personal to me. Does it feel good to have an Irish passport? It does indeed, to be sure to be sure.