Europe

Brexit: The Brits searching for dual nationality

man looking up at passport control sign Image copyright Getty Images

Do I have an Irish relative? Could I become a Spanish citizen? What about my Italian roots? After the UK's vote to leave the EU, some British people are investigating their ancestry in the hopes of getting a second passport.

The BBC has heard from Britons who have already started taking steps towards obtaining dual nationality in another EU country. Some are hoping it will help them continue to live and work in the 27 other countries that make up the union while others have more ideological reasons.

Image copyright Gillian Stern

Name: Rachel Pilling

From: London

Applying for passport in: Germany

Rachel has started the process of applying for German citizenship - an option that is open to her because her Jewish grandmother fled Nazi Germany in 1936 and ultimately settled in London.

The naturalisation claim under article 116 of the German Basic Law allows anybody who was deprived of their German citizenship between 30 January 1933 and 8 May 1945 on political, racial or religious grounds to reclaim their citizenship. Importantly, this also applies to any of their direct descendants.

"I previously felt there would be no benefit in having a German passport as well as a British passport but if we leave the EU, then that may well change," says Rachel.

"There is a real sense of sadness about this throughout my family. I have spoken to my grandmother and, while she will not be applying, she supports the idea of the rest of us doing so. Despite everything that happened in the past, she is really in favour of Europe and feels a lot of love for Europe.

"At the moment I am free to study or work anywhere in the EU. I can't be certain that it will stay that way. If there were no physical advantages with regards to studying and working abroad then I probably wouldn't apply for a German passport but this could have a big influence on my life," she adds.

Image copyright Joanne Munro

Name: Joanne Munro

From: Brighton

Applying for passport in: Italy or Croatia

Joanne doesn't actually think having an EU passport will make much practical difference, "except for shorter queues in the airport", and her reasons for applying are "symbolic".

"I am an EU citizen and I'm not prepared to have anybody take that away from me," she says.

"I feel European and looking at the bigger picture in the long term, we need to be able to act as one people, on one planet. There needs to be more unity, not more division so holding onto my European citizenship and passport is a way to stay loyal to that idea."

The 44-year-old hopes her grandmother, born in a village near Trieste in modern-day Italy, may provide her route to obtaining a European passport.

Initially confident that she would be eligible for an Italian passport under the legal principle of Jure Sanguinis (right of blood), a territorial dispute over which country Trieste belonged to back in 1922 has made her quest more challenging. She may have to apply for Croation citizenship instead.

"It's an omni-shambles really but I have all of the paperwork and one way or another I am going to get a European passport," she says.

Image copyright Oliver Baroni

Name: Oliver Baroni

From: London

Applying for passport in: Italy

Oliver lives in Zurich and has both British and Swiss passports. As Switzerland is outside the European Union, the 44-year-old now faces the prospect of holding two non-EU passports.

Since the result of the EU referendum, he has begun researching his Italian roots and says he is doing so for the benefit of his sons, aged eight and 18.

"It just makes me mad that my kids won't be able to travel freely in Europe to study or work," he says.

The musician also hopes that having another passport might help make it easier for his band, The HillBilly Moon Explosion, when they tour in Europe.

"The first thing I did when it became clear that there had been a vote to leave the EU was to Google 'apply for Italian citizenship' and apparently it is not too difficult. The paperwork is likely to be a pain in the neck but it should be possible."

Any claim made will be based on the fact Oliver's mother was born in Italy before moving to Switzerland and then the UK.

Image copyright Damian Allinson

Name: Damian Allinson

From: Bristol

Applying for passport in: Ireland

Damian, who works in finance in London, is determined not to let Brexit undermine his links to Europe.

The 25-year-old voted to remain in the EU and has previously lived in France and Poland. "Like many young people, I was disappointed to lose the vote but also to not be able to easily work abroad again unless I can get EU citizenship," he says.

Damian is entitled to an Irish passport as his maternal grandfather was from County Mayo.

He began work on his application before the referendum was announced because he thought it would help his plans to work in the US.

"I would have liked to have had the passport anyway but now I need it to retain my ties to the continent in terms of travel, work and culture."

Name: Hannah Neira

From: Horsham

Applying for passport in: Spain

Hannah's father's side of the family is Spanish and she is very close to her paternal grandparents. The 28-year-old plans to move to Spain in a few years, once her career has settled down.

"Because Brexit looks like it will put a damper on my plans to nurture my Spanish side, I contacted the Spanish embassy on 24 June to start the process of obtaining a Spanish passport," she says.

"I think I qualify automatically because my father has Spanish nationality, though I'm not 100% sure."

She's keen not to lose her Anglo-Spanish identity and wants to retain freedom of movement as an EU citizen.

"Though my Spanish is quite poor, I feel connected to Spanish culture through my grandparents. I want to keep it easy to visit them whilst they are still with us."

"I want to get more acquainted with the country that resulted in my inherited habits of spending hours in lively debate over the dinner table, despairing when TV chefs put chorizo in a paella, talking at breakneck speed, eating garlic like sweets and hero-worshipping Fernando Alonso.

"Just as I am acquainted with the country that trained me to say "sorry" when someone steps on my foot, get sunburned at anything over 25 degrees, tut furiously at queue-jumpers and laugh at Blackadder."

By Zak Brophy and Patrick Evans, BBC's UGC and Social News team

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