- Overview of Irish Citizenship by Descent
- Eligibility for Irish Citizenship by Descent
- Application Process for Irish Citizenship by Descent
- Foreign Births Register Application Form
- Having Your Application Witnessed
- Documents Requirements for Irish Citizenship by Descent
- Fees for Irish Citizenship by Descent Application
- Processing Time for Irish Citizenship by Descent
- After You Have Been Added to the Foreign Births Register
- How Can IAS Help?
- Frequently Asked Questions
Overview of Irish Citizenship by Descent
If you were born outside of Ireland but have a family history with Irish heritage, you may be able to become an Irish citizen by descent. It might be hard to imagine that you could have eligibility to gain Irish citizenship, especially if you have never set foot on the island. However, Irish citizenship by descent offers an opportunity to individuals with Irish lineage, regardless of where they were born or if they have ever been to Ireland.
If you have a parent or grandparent who is or has been an Irish citizen, you may be eligible to claim your right to citizenship based on Irish descent. It depends on whether or not you can provide evidence of this lineage and your relationship to the relative, as well as the circumstances surrounding their status.
To be eligible for Irish citizenship by descent, you will need to prove that you have parental lineage connections to an individual with Irish citizenship. In general, eligible individuals will either have a grandparent who held Irish citizenship by birth or a parent who held Irish citizenship at the time the applicant was born.
Obtaining Irish citizenship by descent offers a straightforward path to naturalisation for individuals who were born outside of Ireland but have Irish lineage through direct or indirect parental relations. This might include a parent with Irish citizenship at the time of their child’s birth, a grandparent born in Ireland, or even a great-grandparent who was an Irish citizen by birth, though the latter adds an additional condition concerning the status of the applicant’s parent at the time the applicant was born.
You should note that you have automatic Irish citizenship if your parent was born in Ireland and was an Irish citizen at the time of your birth. If this is the case you might be able to apply for a passport directly. If you do not meet these specific ancestry criteria but still have relevant Irish associations, you might still be able to become a naturalised Irish citizen through other programmes.
My Parent Is an Irish Citizen Who Was Not Born on the Island of Ireland. Am I an Irish Citizen?
Your parent will not need to have been born on the island of Ireland for you to still be eligible for Irish citizenship by descent.
If your grandparent had Irish nationality, or if your great-grandparent was born in Ireland and your parent registered with the Foreign Births Register before you were born, you will still qualify for Irish citizenship.
You will need to show proof of your parent’s status at the time of your birth during your application and present all of the requirements when filling out the application form.
Irish Citizenship Through Grandparents
If you are a child whose parent and grandparent were both born outside of Ireland but with a great-grandparent who was born in Ireland, your eligibility for Irish citizenship by descent will depend on your parent’s status at the time of your birth. Should your parent have enacted their own right to claim Irish citizenship by descent and registered on the Foreign Birth Register by the time you were born, you may still be eligible to apply for Irish citizenship by descent yourself.
If your parent did not register, or if their registration was not processed in time for your birth, you will usually not be eligible for Irish citizenship as your parent was not an Irish citizen at the time of your birth. You can call IAS at +353 061 518 025 for immediate help with your situation. We will be happy to help you review your immigration options for Ireland.
Irish Citizenship Through Adoption
You might also qualify for Irish citizenship by descent if your parent was adopted by at least one Irish citizen and gained Irish citizenship this way.
If your parent was born abroad but gained Irish citizenship after being adopted by at least one parent with adequate status in Ireland, you should still qualify for Irish citizenship by descent, as long as your parent’s adoption happened before you were born.
You will need to include additional documentation during your application explaining the details of your parent’s adoption. In general, the specific documents needed for applications based on a parent’s citizenship by adoption include:
- Your parent’s original adoption certificate and adoption order of an Irish citizen parent (needs to clearly show parental details)
- Original proof of Irish citizenship at the time the adoption happened
You will also need to provide the usual required documentation about your Irish grandparent by adoption, and any further information pertaining to the adoption.
Application Process for Irish Citizenship by Descent
To begin your application for Irish citizenship by descent you will first need to enter your birth on the Foreign Births Register. To do so, you will need to complete the online Foreign Births Registration application, which you can access on the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) website. If your application is successful, you will be entered into the Foreign Birth Register. This will grant you Irish citizenship and you will be able to apply for an Irish passport.
The required page will be easy to find. Simply access the menu on the DFA homepage and select ‘Citizenship’. You will be presented with an overview of eligibility criteria where you will find several links leading you to the Foreign Births Register overview page. Simply select ‘Apply’ in the options and follow the instructions.
Foreign Births Register Application Form
The application form will ask for several details about you, as well as your parent and grandparent with Irish lineage. Make sure all of the information you provide is accurate to avoid any delays in your application. If you are found to have given intentionally misleading information, you may be blocked from applying for Irish citizenship in the future.
At a glance, you will need to provide information about your country of residence, full personal information, and contact details. You will also need to provide information about your parent and grandparent through whom you are applying for Irish citizenship by descent. Here, you will need to state how your parent acquired their Irish citizenship.
You will also need to declare if either your parent or grandparent ever renounced their Irish citizenship by making a ‘declaration of alienage’ to the Minister for Justice in Ireland or any Irish Embassy or Consulate.
When you are done, you will need to submit your form digitally and also print out a copy for the next step. You will also need to pay your cumulative registration fee of €153 if you are under the age of 18 and €278 if you are older.
Having Your Application Witnessed
You will need to sign the printed copy of your form in front of an appropriate witness. This should be a person you know but have no direct relationship with.
Your witness should also sign and date two of your passport-style photos and a copy of your state-issued identity documentation.
What Does It Mean to Have My Documents Witnessed?
Having your documents witnessed means that they are signed off by a trusted individual who practices in one of the eligible professions to show that they are originals, accurate, or otherwise appropriate for their purpose. A witness should sign and date documents and stamp them. If they do not have a stamp, their business card must be included with the application so that they can be verified.
Appropriate professions include:
- Police Officer
- School Principal/Vice Principal/Teacher/School Secretary/ Pre-school Manager/Montessori Teacher/Lecturer
- Clergy member
- Medical doctor/Nurse/Dentist/Pharmacist
- Physiotherapist/Speech Therapist
- Notary Public / Commissioner for Oaths
- Peace Commissioner
- Bank Manager/ Assistant Bank Manager/Credit Union Manager
- Elected Public Representative
- Chartered Engineer
Documents Requirements for Irish Citizenship by Descent
You will need to send the following documents along with your witnessed application form copy:
- Signed and witnessed application form
- Your original birth certificate, showing your parent’s information
- A certified copy of your current state-issued identification
- Two original documents that show proof of your current address
- Four passport-style photographs (in colour)
Documents about your relative with Irish descent (applicable for the parent and grandparent each):
- Their original birth certificate (showing parental information)
- Their original marriage certificate (if applicable)
- Any change of name document (if applicable)
- A certified copy of their current state-issued identification (if alive)
- An official death certificate (if deceased)
Note that you will still need to provide the abode documentation for your parent if you are applying based on your grandparent.
It is important that you provide officially recognised documents proving your relationship to your parent or grandparent as alternative options, such as DNA test results will not be considered acceptable proof.
Legal guardians filing a registration application on behalf of their child will need to provide proof of guardianship. You will then also need to submit four passport-style photographs of yourself (two of which need to be witnessed).
Return of Documents
When your registration has been processed, all of the documents you have included in your application will be returned to you, though it might still be a good idea to make some copies before sending away the originals. You will not need to include a pre-paid envelope for the return of your items, they will be sent to you by recorded mail and you will need to sign for them upon receipt.
Fees for Irish Citizenship by Descent Application
You will have to pay for your registration and certificate, as well as a postage and handling fee. Payable amounts depend on age.
If you are under 18 years old:
- Registration and certificate: €145
- Postage and handling: €8 (non-refundable)
- Total: €153
If you are over 18 years old:
- Registration and certificate: €270
- Postage and handling: €8 (non-refundable)
- Total: €278
Processing Time for Irish Citizenship by Descent
Foreign Birth Registration applications are processed by the Department of Foreign Affairs in the order they have been received. While the exact wartime may vary, you should expect this to take around 9 months.
Applicants meeting either of the following criteria might be eligible for priority processing under an urgent request:
- You are stateless
- You are currently pregnant with a child that would not be entitled to Irish citizenship unless you register before their birth
- You are currently pregnant with a child that will not qualify for citizenship in their birth country and will be stateless
It is important that you include all of the required documents and have them witnessed by someone who meets the requirements for your application to be processed successfully. Failure to do so will result in delays and you may have to provide additional information or apply again. Should it be found that you provided intentionally misleading information, your application will be rejected and you may be blocked from applying for Irish citizenship in the future.
After You Have Been Added to the Foreign Births Register
Once your application is successful and you have been added to the Foreign Births Register, you have been granted Irish citizenship. You will usually be able to apply for your Irish passport. During this process, you will need your Foreign Birth Registration Certificate to prove your right to do so, as well as the rest of your personal information.
To successfully apply for Irish citizenship by descent, it is important that you fully understand the conditions of parental lineage that are required for eligibility. Making mistakes or even missing documentation can unnecessarily delay the already long processing times for Foreign Birth Register applications and set you back on your journey to naturalisation.
Seeking support from an experienced immigration lawyer can help streamline this process. You can call us today at +353 061 518 025 to receive immediate support. We will be able to help you understand your family situation and advise you on the best steps to secure a life in Ireland.
Last modified on October 26th, 2023 at 10:16 am
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Yes, siblings will be able to send the physical application in one envelope together. You will need to include a letter of explanation stating that the included documents about your relative will need to be used for all included applications. You will still need to file separate online applications, pay the fees and include appropriate personal documentation for each application.
In general, Irish citizenship by descent will consider up to three generations of ancestors to determine your right to Irish citizenship based on lineage. However, most successful applicants will be granted status based on their parent’s citizenship at the time of the applicant’s birth and a grandparent who was born in Ireland. Great-grandparents who were born in Ireland may be considered but will require a continued lineage of Irish citizenship through the grandparents or parents to be eligible. Any generations further back will not be considered by the immigration services reviewing your status.
Yes, Irish citizens generally qualify for dual citizenship. You will still need to meet general eligibility criteria for either country you wish to have citizenship for.