Brexit is provoking a record-breaking surge of Brits seeking EU passports

Stay in the EU.
Stay in the EU.
Image: AP Photo/Matt Dunham
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Three and a half years after the Brexit vote, the UK is most definitely leaving the EU at the end of January 2020. The latest data suggest that Brits afraid of losing  freedom of movement within the bloc have looked hard in the past year for a EU passport.

This is the third consecutive year Ireland issued a record number of passports, a 7% increase from 2018, according to a statement from from its foreign affairs department. British citizens eligible for Irish citizenship contributed to the demand. First-time applicants from the UK spiked in February, March, and October, right before Brexit deadlines. Over 94,000 applicants born in UK submitted their applications for the first time. The number of passport renewals is likely to double those first-timers, following historical tends.

UK nationals submitted a record number of applications for Swedish passports in 2019, reaching over 4,400 by the end of November. That’s more than double the number of applications in 2018.

The Swedish Migration Agency fast-tracked applications related to Brexit in the spring. The current processing time for a Swedish passport is about 250 days.

The Great British rush for EU citizenship is happening all over the continent.

From 2000 to 2015, a total of 4,800 British citizens got German passports. In the following three years, from 2016 to 2018, about four times more—17,000 Brits—received German papers.

The Netherlands also saw an increasing number of British nationals becoming Dutch in the same three-year period. The country accepts dual citizenship in only a few specific cases. If Brits living in the Netherlands applied for Dutch citizenship, they would be at the risk of losing their UK ones.

The other countries that saw a big surge in citizenship applications from UK nationals are Belgium and France. Fewer than 400 Brits applied for French citizenship in 2015. The number soared to 1,363 the following year, more than doubled in 2017, and rose to 3,211 in 2018. In Belgium, the initial surge after the 2016 Brexit vote tapered off in 2018.

This isn’t the first year that a record number of Brits got another EU passport ahead of Brexit, and the trend is likely to continue next year.