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How UK citizens can stay in Europe after Brexit

An EU official hangs the Union Jack next to the European Union flag at the VIP entrance at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels on Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016. British Prime Minister David Cameron is visiting EU leaders two days ahead of a crucial EU summit. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)
AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert
Ta ta for now.
  • Mike Murphy
By Mike Murphy

Technology editor

Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

While it will likely take years for the UK to officially remove itself from the European Union, any Briton’s ability to freely live and work in any other EU country that comes with being a member of the EU will presumably be lost once the extrication is complete.

But for some of the 48% of the UK that desired to remain part of the EU, there may yet be some hope: There are a few other ways that you might be able to hold on to European citizenship, if not through that sturdy burgundy passport you currently hold.

Your lineage

If you happen to have a father or mother who was born in another European Union country, check with their passport offices, as you may well be entitled to citizenship of that country. For example, in France (link in French), Italy, and Ireland, if either of your parents was born in that country, you can apply to become a citizen.

In certain other cases, less direct links can also lead to citizenship. In Ireland, for example, if either of your grandparents were born in Ireland, or were Irish citizens, you can apply to become an Irish citizen. What’s more, this lineage can be passed down through the generations, meaning if you secure that citizenship, your children and grandchildren can also apply for it. It’s the luck of the Irish, it seems.

The Irish government also produced this somewhat helpful table to clear up where you might stand on Irish citizenship:

Born in the island of Ireland on or before Dec. 31, 2004
Entitled to Irish citizenship or you are an Irish citizen
Born on the island of Ireland on or after Jan. 1, 2005
Entitled to Irish citizenship if your parents are Irish. Entitled to Irish citizenship, if your parents are foreign nationals legally resident in the island of Ireland for 3 out of 4 years immediately prior to your birth.
Child of A, born outside the island of Ireland
An Irish citizen
Child of C and a grandchild of A, born outside the island of Ireland
Entitled to Irish citizenship, but you must first register in the Foreign Births Register
a child of D and a great-grandchild of A, born outside the island of Ireland
Entitled to Irish citizenship, by having your birth registered in the Foreign Births Register, but only if your parent D had registered by the time of your birth.

Other EU countries have similar rules, including Italy, Poland and Hungary. Others, like Germany, are only interested in the citizenship of your parents when it comes to determining your own.

Getting married

If your heritage isn’t going to save you from Brexit, there’s always another way if you’re still single: Marry someone from an EU nation. Every member state has different rules on the length of your stay in the country, and your marriage, before citizenship can be conferred upon you. So make sure you’ve got a few years to spare if you really want to pull this off. In Ireland, for example, you will have had to live legally in Ireland for at least three years before your marriage, and be married to that Irish person for at least three years before you can apply. In Italy, you have to live in the country legally for two years and married for three before applying—unless you have a child, then you can apply in half the time. In Germany, you’ll have to have been married for at least two years (and be a legal resident in the country) before you can apply—and you also have to be able to speak German passably.

Buying your way in

If you’re British through and through, and already married, there’s one last hope if you’re wealthy. The Independent suggests that some nations will allow you to spend a pretty penny to buy your way into a citizenship through an investment in the country. The island nation of Malta, for example, will take an investment of €5 million in exchange for citizenship, the paper said. Cyprus has a similar deal, where wealthy individuals can buy their way in for €2 million, according to the BBC.

Perhaps in the future, more countries will follow Estonia’s lead and allow us to become ”digital citizens” on the web. But for now, unless you have genes, nuptials, or cash on your side, you’re going to be stuck on a small island in the north Atlantic, adrift from the 27 other countries nearby that used to welcome you with open arms.

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