What benefits does obtaining Irish citizenship have for a UK citizen?
April 11, 2012 3:34 AM   Subscribe

What benefits does obtaining Irish citizenship have for a UK citizen?

I am considering applying for Irish citizenship through my maternal grandmother, mainly for family reasons. So, while I'm aware that UK and Ireland are both in the EU and there'll be no additional benefit regarding work permits, immigration, etc, I'm just wondering if there are some additional benefits, such as -

Will USA border officials really be nicer to me if I'm travelling on an Irish passport?
Am I safer on an Irish passport travelling around Central Asia/Middle East than on a UK passport?
Are there really special work visas in the USA just for Irish citizens?

Also are there any general benefits of having two passports?
posted by sarahdal to Travel & Transportation (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The situations you would find yourself being safer with an Irish passport in eg. the Middle East are going to be serious enough that you should plan to avoid them anyway, but anecdotally several of my colleagues who work in such places maintain dual citizenship for this purpose, and it's not unusual amongst journalists.
posted by cromagnon at 3:40 AM on April 11, 2012

When my family and I were in Germany, a petrol station owner wouldn't accept our credit card payment because he "couldn't take English cards", his attitude changed when we showed them our Irish passports. All of a sudden he was delighted to take our money. Obvious caveats for single data point / anecdata apply.
posted by knapah at 4:14 AM on April 11, 2012

I am not an immigration expert at all so make sure you do the due investigation, but I believe there's some sort of working holiday scheme for Irish citizens in the US (and vice-versa). Here are some details from the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs. Note that that posting is from four years ago so things may have changed since then. But assuming it holds up and that you meet the other qualifications for the visa, there's one possible benefit, if you want to work in the US for a year.
posted by Kosh at 4:28 AM on April 11, 2012

One of the legacies of the British Empire is that there are plenty of places in the world, not just the Middle East, where you are likely to be received more warmly with an Irish than with a British passport.
posted by Skeptic at 4:47 AM on April 11, 2012

I would like to add another question to this: Are there any downsides?

(I am in the same position as the OP, but with the additional constraint that my American partner wishes to move back to the US soon, and I would like to join her and work there. Hence, the potential downside I am most interested in is: Might a second passport hinder this?)
posted by jeatsy at 5:10 AM on April 11, 2012

Upside is as people have mentioned there are plenty of places where people will be more friendly. The flip side is that there wouldn't be Irish embassies/consulates in lots of countries where there would be British ones. Usually you can get help from the British consulate/embassy as far as I know if there's not an Irish one but I guess that's the downside.
posted by daveirl at 5:21 AM on April 11, 2012

Response by poster: Good answers. So if I travel to a country on one passport (eg Irish), am I not entitled to assistance from the UK embassy as a British citizen?
posted by sarahdal at 5:42 AM on April 11, 2012

I think there may be cases where passing as British is easier than spending half an hour trying to explain to some Tajik jobsworth that "Ireland" is neither the land of the glaciers nor the English name for Iran. But as a rule I don't think it makes any difference.
posted by Segundus at 6:26 AM on April 11, 2012

Best answer: I'm Irish.

I've heard a lot about the apparent utility of an Irish passport but have never especially noticed it, admittedly that might be because I don't ever expect to be stopped so I basically never am.

There's currently a Bill in the US congress to allow 10,000 E-3 visas annually for Irish immigration. It looks like it's going to go through. These are the type of 3 year open work visas that were previously only available to Australians due to their participation in the War on Terror.



It's also just good practice to always have more than one passport if that's an option. It gives you a flexibility when you're travelling in terms of entry and exit visas to conflict zones. It also means that if, heaven forbid, you lose or have your passport stolen, you have a backup.

I'm pretty sure that it doesn't matter what passport you enter a country on, if you're a citizen of a county you're entitled to support from their embassy if you ask for it.

The only downside other than your theoretical elibility for a draft, if there ever was one, is that it occasionally has tax implications. If you own a home in one country you might be eligible to pay a different class of tax on it to your new country. That's something I'd talk to an accountant or banking professional about.
posted by rudhraigh at 6:29 AM on April 11, 2012

When entering the UK or Ireland, you get to choose between the shorter of the two Local passport/EU passport queues.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 6:57 AM on April 11, 2012

If you're an artist, you don't pay taxes on the first 40,000 pounds.
posted by IndigoJones at 7:02 AM on April 11, 2012

EndsOfInvention - last time I entered the UK there were only two queues. UK/EU were lumped into one queue and everyone else was in the second queue. (There was the potential for additional queues for biometric passports and other non-nationality based queues - but none of them were in operation.

I wonder if this varies by entry point? This was Heathrow about a month ago.
posted by SuckPoppet at 7:03 AM on April 11, 2012

A couple of points: (1) You are entitled to help from a British embassy but Britain can't help you as a British citizen if the country of your other citizenship decides to prosecute you or force you to do military service.

(2) You are supposed to enter the UK on the same passport you left.
posted by gadha at 7:36 AM on April 11, 2012

IANAIL but here goes... partners of EU/EEA countries ex-UK, who are NOT themselves EU/EEA citizens (i.e. anywhere in the world outside the EEA) can enter the UK without any restrictions.

Partners of UK citizens need to apply for a spouse/fiance visa, a process that can be time-consuming and expensive (for example, if your partner comes from a predominantly non-English speaking country they may have to sit an English language test).

So if you decide to marry someone from outside the EU, you are probably better off with your Irish passport than with your British passport.
posted by plep at 7:38 AM on April 11, 2012

If you are dual nationality you will be entitled to assistance from any country which has a British embassy apart from Ireland. It would probably be best to bring a photocopy of both passports though.

If you ever work in defence in the UK or Ireland you may have to renounce the citizenship of the other country.
posted by Laura_J at 1:15 PM on April 11, 2012

There are several government/civil service jobs in the UK that I was turned down for when I came here in 2002 due to my Irish nationality. Not all of them were what you might expect to be sensitive areas like Ministry of Defense. One, ironically, was in my local job centre and they had invited me to apply!
posted by Wilder at 9:45 AM on April 12, 2012

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