Surge in Britons Holding Irish Passports Post-Brexit

The number of Britons holding Irish passports has increased significantly in the past decade, reaching almost 160,000, according to data from the 2021 census published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). This marks a sixfold rise from the approximately 26,000 UK-born people with dual British-Irish nationality recorded in the 2011 census.

The ONS suggests that this surge in Irish passports could be attributed to the greater interest in dual citizenship following the end of free movement when the UK exited the EU. Individuals with at least one Irish parent or grandparent are eligible to apply for Irish passports, which would grant them the freedom to live or work in any EU member state.

The immediate aftermath of the 2016 EU referendum saw a notable increase in applications for Irish passports. Within the three months following the vote, the number of Brits seeking Irish passports rose by 83%, amounting to 37,000 applications.

Furthermore, the rise in Irish passports has contributed to a significant growth in the number of people in the UK holding dual citizenship. The ONS reports that the figure has doubled from 612,000 in 2011 to 1.3 million in 2021. This increase can be attributed to the rise in immigration to the UK, with the number of foreign-born residents holding multiple passports increasing from 381,200 to 648,700 over the past decade.

Additionally, there has been a substantial increase in the number of British-born individuals holding more than one passport, reaching 587,600. Among this group, Irish citizenship is the most prevalent, followed by French and German.

The average age of those holding dual British-Irish passports in the UK is 47 years old. For Britons holding either French or German passports, the average age is 15, indicating that they are likely the children of first-generation migrants.

The ONS concludes that the growth in the EU-born population has resulted in a higher number of children eligible for dual nationality. Despite successive Conservative governments pledging to reduce immigration, a record net figure of 606,000 people moved to the UK in 2020.