Demand for Irish passports has surged since the Brexit vote with almost 200,000 applications received from the UK this year

Almost 200,000 Irish passport applications were received from the UK this year.

The number from England, Scotland and Wales increased by more than a fifth compared to 2017, Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs said.

It comes as increasing number of Brits seek Irish citizenship – which means they can keep their rights to free movement around the EU after Brexit.

Foreign affairs minister Simon Coveney said the total had surged since the June 2016 Brexit vote.

Some 84,855 applications were from Northern Ireland and 98,544 applications were received from Great Britain.

These figures represent an increase of 2% and 22%, respectively, over 2017 figures.

Mr Coveney said: “It is important that the Passport Service continues to use technology in order to gain efficiencies and deliver the best possible service to the citizen.”

In October it emerged Ireland’s UK embassy had received as many applications in the first half of 2018 as the whole of 2015.

Fine Gael’s Neale Richmond, chairman of the Brexit committee in the Irish senate, at the time suggested the “looming disaster of Brexit” was pushing people to reclaim Irish citizenship.

If there is a Brexit deal, EU and UK citizens will effectively keep their rights to move freely across borders until December 2020.

But if there is no deal, visas are expected to be needed for long-term trips to the EU after 29 March 2019. Short term holidays are expected to be visa-free.

Who is eligible for Irish citizenship – and how to apply

Irish passports are only available to Irish citizens.

However, you can become an Irish citizen through “birth or descent” if you have an Irish parent or grandparent.

To do this, you must apply to the Foreign Births Register.

This costs €270 (€153 for under-18s) and you need to provide proof of residence, a copy of your passport, and yours and your grandparents’ original long-form birth certificates.

You also need the signature of a witness who isn’t related to you, who has to be one of a list of “high standing” professions in the community.

Witnesses can include a bank manager, magistrate, doctor, clergyman or police officer.

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