A record number of more than 900,000 Irish passports were issued in 2019, up 7% from the year before. Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Simon Coveney described it as another ‘bumper’ year for Irish passport applications.
A significant number of applications came from Northern Ireland and Great Britain. Over 94,000 first-time applications were received from people born in Northern Ireland or Great Britain, representing just over 10% of the total. In 2018, this figure was 22%.
The uncertainty of Brexit has caused a surge in demand from Irish citizens living in England, Scotland and Wales who are unwilling to give up the benefits of being EU citizens. Since the 2016 referendum, interest in acquiring Irish passports has surged due to fears of queues at airports and other rights such as access to the European health insurance card for holiday health cover and the Erasmus university scheme.
All citizens living in Northern Ireland are eligible for an Irish passport.
Children and grandchildren of Irish-born citizens are also entitled to an Irish passport.
Applications for citizenship through foreign births registration continues to grow, with more than 29,000 applications in 2019 and over 16,000 applications processed — the highest number ever registered in a single year.
New York, Pretoria, Canberra, San Francisco, Abu Dhabi, Ottawa, Sydney, Paris, Chicago, and Berlin are the cities that received the most applications through embassies and consulates around the world, excluding London.
It was just in December that that Passport Online service expanded to include first-time applicants in Ireland, Northern Ireland, Great Britain and Europe.
Tánaiste Simon Coveney said: “2019 was another bumper year for the Passport Service.
“The award-winning Passport Online expanded in 2019 to include first-time applicants in Ireland, Northern Ireland, Great Britain and Europe. Irish citizens, including children, can also renew their passports online 24/7, from anywhere in the world.”
“I want to thank the staff of the passport service who have worked hard in recent years to ensure the government provides a modern, secure and efficient service.
“The Irish passport is a valuable document and we continue to strengthen all processes to prevent fraud and maintain its integrity and security.”
Helen McEntee, minister of state for European affairs, said the innovation shown by the passport service had made applying more convenient than ever.
She said: “The Passport Service’s award-winning customer service hub, established in January this year, can handle 10,000 queries per week through their phone and webchat system, ensuring the application process for citizens is as smooth as possible. I look forward to seeing the continued development of this excellent service in 2020 for the benefit of Irish citizens here and abroad.”
Last month, Ireland placed second in a study of the world’s best citizenships. Ireland was only behind Iceland in the study that took in criteria such as freedom of movement, healthcare, judicial independence, political democracy, property rights, equal marriage, transgender rights, women’s rights, human rights, labour standards and maternity/ paternity leave.
The oldest online Irish passport applicant was 101, and the youngest was five days old.
During peak periods, in excess of 5,800 applications were submitted from around the world in a single day, and total monthly applications exceeded 100,000 in January, March, April and May in 2019.
St. Patrick’s Day may have played a role as March was the month that received the highest number of applications with 112,920 submitted in that time.
The most popular surname for applications for Irish passports worldwide was Murphy.
The cost of renewing a passport online is cheaper than alternative methods, with adults costing €75, and children €20.