Since the start of 2012, new players joining the ICU are required to give their federation and date of birth. Also, existing members, for whom this information is unknown, are now required provide it when they resubscribe. Some people don't understand what is meant by "federation" or why DOBs are important, so here is the explanation.
Every player registered with FIDE (the international governing body for chess) has a federation. Usually this is the player's country of both birth and residence. Most players who register with the ICU (in order to play regular chess in Ireland and have an ICU rating) belong to the Irish federation (whose 3-letter code is IRL) but there are also a significant number (just under 10%) with foreign federations.
As far as FIDE are concerned, a player can only represent the federation (country) to which he/she is registered . So if you're Irish, you cannot play for Japan (for example) and vice versa. Also, there is a large fee to pay (to FIDE) if you want to change your federation.
When a player who is not yet registered with FIDE plays in a FIDE-rated tournament in Ireland (e.g. one of the Leinster leagues) the ICU rating officer must identify the federation of the player before submitting the report to FIDE. In the past this often required contacting the player to ask what federation they already belong to or would wish to belong to. Now, we want players who haven't already declared their federation to do so as part of the subscription process. Here are your choices:
|Born and resident in Ireland||Your federation is IRL|
|Born outside and not resident in Ireland||Your federation is not IRL|
|Dual nationality one of which is Ireland||You may choose IRL or your other nationality|
|Foreign national but permanently resident in Ireland||You may choose IRL or your other nationality|
|Foreign national temporarily resident in Ireland||Your federation is not Ireland|
Choosing IRL as your FIDE federation does not necessarily qualify you to represent Ireland in international competitions as there may be additional requirements. Note that if you later change your mind about what federation you want to belong to, the ICU will not be are liable to pay FIDE's fee (it will be you or your new federation), so please choose carefully.
Date's of birth are used by both FIDE and the ICU to help identify players (e.g. distinguish players with similar names) and to assign them the correct rating K-factor (how fast your rating changes).