Renewing my British passport overseas

It’s 14 months since I began the process of applying for my Irish citizenship, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen any time soon, what with the increase in other British people going for Irish citizenship. And so while I can’t get my Irish passport, I need to renew my British one.

If memory serves, the last time I had to renew my passport I had to apply through the British Embassy here in Dublin, which meant my passport was issued by the FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office).

This time around I’m able to use the online renewal service, and I’ve got to say, I’m actually quite impressed about how well it works!

Renewal Process

After answering a few screening questions to check if I was suitable for online renewal, I was then offered advice about my passport photo.

The photo can be one of the following:

  • A photo taken in a photo booth that gives a special code that can be shared with the passport authorities to retrieve the digital image
  • A photo taken by another passport photo establishment such as a pharmacy where they can give me the electronic image to upload
  • A photo you take myself – or rather by someone else – as long as it conforms to the photo rules

The fact that I was able to take my own photo was great as it saved me a few quid. I got my wife to take a photo of me against the kitchen wall using my mobile phone and it was perfectly fine.

I then answered a set of questions about me and my previous passport, upload the photo, and that was it. The whole thing took less than 5 minutes!

As soon as my application was in they sent me an email with a postal address (mine was in Belfast) to post the old passport.

Frequent Updates

I love the fact that the process sends out frequent updates on what’s happening, by email, SMS, or both.

I got a notification when they received my old passport in the post, another when my application was approved, another when it was printed, and another when it was dispatched.

And from the time they received my passport in Belfast to when it was dispatched was just 2 days. So the only long waits for me were the postage of passports back and forth.

Mine was delivered by DHL, and they seem to have the restriction that they only deliver to the home address stated in the application, and there does need to be someone in to sign for it – but that seems like good security.

Arrived

I wasn’t at home to receive the passports in person (they send back the old passport and new one in different packages), but I was able to get them redirected to a DHL office that’s only a 15 minute walk from my office.

So here’s my old and new passports together. You can see I got one of the amended design which omit the words “European Union” from the top.

Some thoughts on Irish Citizenship for a British person

As a British person living in Ireland, I am afforded all the “freedom of movement” rights of EU citizens to work and live wherever I want in Europe.

I am free to reside and work in Ireland, and can travel without restriction in and out of the country. I don’t need to apply for visas or work permits, unlike non-EU migrants. And as such, I’m treated pretty-much as if I was an Irish citizen.

The freedoms are so universal that it’s hard to come up with many tangible differences between being an Irish or EU citizen. Here’s the only restrictions I can find:

  • I’m not allowed to vote in Presidential elections
  • I’m not allowed to vote in any referendum votes
  • I can’t stand as Irish President, or become a member of the Dáil or Seanad

I place quite a lot of value on the voting rights – as I’ve missed out on numerous referendums since moving here – and I feel a bit disenfranchised by not being able to vote on constitutional changes that will have a direct effect upon my life.

But are the voting rights on their own worth the €1,125 naturalisation fees, and the 6 months of bureaucracy and paperwork?

Personal Experience

For the last couple of years I’ve been pondering the idea becoming an Irish citizen. I’ve been living here over 8 years, my wife is Irish, and Ireland looks like it’ll be my home for the foreseeable future. I have deepening roots in this country, and yet sometimes I still feel like a foreigner.

I don’t know if citizenship will help me feel more Irish. I guess my British accent will always set me apart from those who grew up in Ireland. But maybe an Irish passport will help me feel less of an outsider.

Any maybe how I “feel” is what it all comes down to. With few tangible benefits, the major driving force to go for naturalisation would be to feel more at home.

The Numbers

I was hunting around the web for some statistics about the number of British people that apply to Irish naturalisation, but couldn’t find any breakdown of naturalisation by country. The naturalisation numbers just don’t appear to be published anywhere, which seems strange.

There are loads of figures about immigration , and the census breaks down the population by country of origin. Indeed, the last census recorded 390,000 EU nationals resident in Ireland, which amounts to about 8% of the population.  But I suspect that the number of those people applying for Irish citizenship is tiny.

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