If you are an eligible British citizen, you may be permitted to hold both a British and Irish passport. If you can provide evidence of your claim to Irish citizenship, you will be able to hold both passports.
The advantages of holding dual British and Irish passports are significant. When both countries were in the EU, it was not necessary for British citizens to hold an Irish passport (even if they were entitled to one). Not all countries allow dual citizenship, but Ireland and the UK are two of the countries that do.
Advantages of holding an Irish passport
Although Britain is no longer a part of the European Union, remaining an EU national has multiple benefits and these advantages can be obtained by holding an Irish passport. The advantages of becoming an Irish citizen and holding an Irish passport include:
- You are still considered an EU citizen
- You can travel freely throughout the 28 member states of the EU to live and work
- If you have children, they will be granted Irish and EU citizenship
- You and your children will be able to access educational opportunities in Europe at a very low cost
- When travelling through an airport in the EU, you do not have to use the non-EU citizen queues (which normally take longer than the EU citizen queue)
Who can hold a British and Irish passport?
As with all other countries, Ireland has rules about who is eligible for dual citizenship and holding a passport. You may be entitled to apply for an Irish passport if the following situations apply to you:
- You were born in Ireland or Northern Ireland before 1st January 2005
- You were born in Ireland or Northern Ireland after 31st December 2004
In addition to one of these points, one or both of your parents must have been an Irish citizen or a British citizen when you were born.
Alternatively, it is possible to claim Irish citizenship by descent if you can prove that an eligible member of your family held an Irish passport. The following points may grant you Irish citizenship:
- One or both of your parents was an Irish or British citizen (but died before you were born)
- One of both of your parents was entitled to live (without any residency restrictions) in Ireland or Northern Ireland
- One or both of your parents was legally resident on the island of Ireland for three out of the four years preceding your birth (i.e., not on a student visa or awaiting an asylum decision)
People born outside Ireland
If you were not born in Ireland and the following situations apply, you may be able to apply for an Irish passport:
- One or both of your parents was born in Ireland and was entitled to Irish citizenship
- You have one grandparent who was born in Ireland and your birth was entered into the Foreign Births Register
- One of your parents was an Irish citizen (by registering with the Foreign Births Register or through naturalisation) at the time of your birth
How to apply for an Irish passport
It is possible to apply online for a first-time Irish passport application if you meet the eligibility requirements. The Department of Foreign Affairs passport application page will outline whether you are eligible to apply online.
Required documents to apply for an Irish passport
As part of the application process, you should be ready to provide evidence of the following:
- Valid passport or travel document
- Digital passport photograph
- Full birth certificate
- Proof of identity and address
- Proof of at least one parent’s or grandparent’s Irish citizenship (where relevant)
You will also need access to a printer if you are a first-time applicant.
Irish passport waiting time and fees
The waiting time for an online first-time Irish passport application is approximately 20 working days for Irish citizens. As this is a highly in-demand service and waiting times may be longer.
However, for first-time applications from the UK, the current waiting time is estimated at 365 days, so if you wish to apply for an Irish passport, it is worth submitting an application as soon as possible.
You can track the progress of your passport application once your application has been submitted.
The cost of an Irish passport application varies depending on the size of your book. If you choose the standard 10-year passport, there is a fee of €75, while a larger (66-page) 10-year passport will cost approximately €105.
Northern Ireland and Irish citizens
People who are residents of Northern Ireland are entitled to hold either a British or Irish passport, or both.
The 1997 Good Friday Agreement asserted the rights of people in Northern Ireland to choose British or Irish passports or both.
Since Britain left the EU, over 200,000 residents of Northern Ireland applied for an Irish passport to retain the rights of Irish citizens to live and work in the EU.
As a territory of the UK, you can find out more information about making a passport application as a Northern Irish resident on the Northern Irish government services website.
Freedom to travel with an Irish passport
The Irish passport is considered to be a very valuable passport worldwide, ranked 6th in the Henley Passport Index. As of 2021, Irish passport holders could travel either visa-free or by obtaining a visa on arrival to 186 countries or territories.
The Irish passport is ranked higher in terms of access than the US and UK passports, meaning that it is a highly sought-after travel document.
Another unique advantage of the Irish passport is the UK and Ireland’s Common Travel Area agreement, which allows visa-free access to live, work, and study between the two countries.
With access to both Europe and the UK, it is unsurprising that over 422,000 passport applicants were made from the UK between the years 2016 and 2020.