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After Brexit: How to apply for an Irish or other EU passport

Those part of the Irish, Italian, Greek (or other EU nations') diaspora have options

14 September 2016. Gerard Gleeson

It was not always possible for Australians to enjoy the benefit of dual citizenship. Before 4 April, 2002, Australians were expected to renounce their citizenship if they wanted the right to hold the passport of another country. Part of the rationale behind the change to the policy was the recognition of the practical reality that individuals obtained significant travel and business benefits from holding a passport from countries such as the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, Greece and Italy, countries that share our own values and alliances. In other words, dual citizenship was no longer seen as being a threat to national loyalty.


The flow-on benefit to Australians with ancestral heritage from Europe was their access to a European Union passport that afforded free movement around member States. However, since the United Kingdom’s decision to exit the European Union, there are many British passport-holding Australians who are in danger of losing the benefit of that freedom.


Not that anything will change for a while and the extent of the loss of rights remains uncertain; there are many complex negotiations and formal steps to take before limitations to European travel rights for the holders of British passports start. However, already there are thousands of Australians making the decision to apply to other EU nations for dual citizenship to circumvent any potential inconvenience. In particular, there are many Australians with Irish, Italian and Greek backgrounds who are able to take that step. They are able to do this because each of these countries applies the legal principle of jus sanguinis. This means that citizenship is recognized through blood ties and ancestry.


The following is a summary of the criteria and application process.




The Irish Constitution recognizes its diaspora as being connected to their country of origin, and its laws makes it quite easy to apply and obtain dual citizenship. To summarise, you can apply for citizenship as follows:


• if you were born in the island of Ireland (the Republic recognizes the people who were born in Northern Ireland as having citizenship rights);


• if you are married to an Irish citizen for at least three years but have continually resided in Ireland for at least one year before the application;


• if either (or both) your parents were born on the island of Ireland, or who were citizens of Ireland at the time of your birth; or


• if at least one of your grandparents was Irish.


The following is a link to the relevant pages of the website of the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade that will step you through the process of applying for dual citizenship and passport.


How to apply for dual citizenship


How to apply for Irish citizenship




The Italians welcome people of Italian descent to apply for dual citizenship. If you have an Italian parent or a grandparent or even a great grandparent, you can apply for citizenship but it comes with the condition that you were born before the naturalization of your forebear. This will preclude many Australians from applying.


To assist you with the application the following is a link to the Italian consulate in Sydney.




Like Ireland and Italy, Greece encourages its diaspora to maintain legal as well as cultural links with their land of origin. The following are the categories of persons who are able to apply for citizenship:


• A person born in Greece to at least one Greek parent.


• A person born outside Greece with a parent who was born in Greece and who have registered their birth in Greece.


• A person born outside Greece with at least one Greek grandparent. However, this process can take 2-3 years unless the person was born after a certain date.


The following is a link that will assist you with the requirements of obtaining Greek citizenship.


Anybody considering such a move should be aware that military service is compulsory in Greece.

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