- Who can obtain Irish citizenship by birth or descent?
- Eligibility for those born in Ireland
- Eligibility requirements for those born outside Ireland
- Foreign Births Register
- How to apply for the Foreign Birth Register?
- Irish citizenship through adoption
- Irish citizenship by descent or birth through special declaration
- How can Total Law help?
- Frequently Asked Questions
Who can obtain Irish citizenship by birth or descent?
Irish citizenship by birth or descent simply means getting Irish citizenship based on a person’s birth. It is for those born in Ireland or who are eligible for Irish citizenship based on Irish ancestry. There are three categories:
- Those born in Ireland on or before December 31st, 2004
- Those born in Ireland on or before January 1st, 2005
- Children and grandchildren of category one or two, depending on other criteria
You could be eligible for Irish citizenship if you fall in one of the above three categories. However, you should note that you are not automatically entitled to citizenship if you belong to any of the categories.
If you are to derive Irish citizenship based on your Irish born grandparent, naturalised grandparent or great grandparent (Irish ancestors), it is termed Irish citizenship by Irish descent.
If you are eligible for Irish citizenship, you may apply for an Irish passport. Irish passports give access to 188 countries and territories visa-free or with a visa on arrival.
For assistance with acquiring Irish citizenship or assessing your eligibility for citizenship by birth, call us today on (+353) 061 518 025. Our immigration lawyers can check if you are eligible, assist you with any necessary registrations and applications, and advise on your options if you do not qualify for Ireland citizenship by birth or descent.
Eligibility for citizenship for those born in Ireland
To be eligible for citizenship as an Irish born child, you must fall into one of two categories below.
Eligibility for those born in Ireland on/before December 31st 2004
The first category is those born on the island of Ireland on or before December 31st 2004. If you fall in this category, you may be entitled to Irish nationality and citizenship or automatically are a citizen. You may apply for an Irish passport.
Eligibility for those born in Ireland on/after January 1st 2005
The second category covers those born on the island of Ireland on or after January 1st 2005. If you fall in this category, you may be eligible to become an Irish citizen depending on the status of your parents at the time of your birth. You might be entitled to Irish citizenship if at least one of your parents:
- Is an Irish citizen
- Is a British citizen or entitled to live in Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland without restriction on their residency
- Is a foreign national with a visa and is legally resident on the island of Ireland for 3 out of 4 years before your birth
If you were born to an Irish or British citizen, you are eligible for citizenship even if your Irish or British parent died before you were born.
If you were born to a legally resident foreign national, you are only eligible if the three years spent in Ireland count as reckonable residence. Reckonable residence is time in Ireland that counts towards eligibility for naturalisation.
Eligibility requirements for those born outside the State
Another category is those born outside the State. If you were born outside Ireland, you might be eligible if your parent or grandparent:
- Was born on the Island of Ireland on or before December 31st 2004
- Was born on the Island of Ireland on or after January 1st 2005
- Falls in number 2 above
Children of those born in Ireland on or before December 31st 2004
If you were born outside Ireland to a parent born on the Island of Ireland on or before December 31st 2004, you are an Irish citizen. You can reach out to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to apply for an Irish passport.
Children of Irish citizens born in Ireland on or after January 1st 2005
If you were born outside Ireland and are a child or grandchild of someone born on the Island of Ireland on or after January 1st 2005, you are entitled to Irish citizenship. Still, you must register in the Foreign Births Register.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade will determine if you are eligible to get the Foreign Births Registration done. You become an Irish citizen on the date you are registered.
This route permits your children to become Irish citizens as well. However, for your child to be able to register as a citizen, you must have registered in the foreign births register between 1956 and 1986, or you must have registered before your child was born if the child was born after 1986. Your child can apply to be registered in the Foreign Births register to become an Irish citizen.
Foreign Birth Registration
If you were born outside Ireland and are eligible for Irish citizenship based on the criteria above, you can become a citizen through Foreign Birth registration.
When registering in the Foreign Birth Register, you are required to provide some documents and what you provide depends on the Irish citizen connected to your eligibility and how they became a citizen. Also, some of the documents need to be witnessed.
The applicant must provide the following for the foreign births registration:
- Application form
- Original civil birth certificate showing the parents
- Original marriage certificate, if applicable
- Photocopy of state-issued ID
- 2 proofs of address
- 4 colour photographs
You will also need to submit evidence of your relationship with your parents/grandparents as well as proof of their status, such as:
- Photocopy of the parent’s or grandparent’s state-issued ID
- Original marriage certificate of Irish parent or grandparent, if applicable
- Original copies of proof of citizenship, such as:
- Birth certificate of the Irish citizen parent or grandparent
- Adoption certificate and adoption order of Irish citizen parent
- Irish Naturalisation Certificate of Irish parent
- Foreign Birth Registration Certificate of Irish parent
- Post Nuptial Citizenship Certificate of Irish parent
If the applicant is for a minor, the following documents must be provided as well:
- A letter from the school, family doctor or other relevant sources on headed paper which includes the minor’s address as the proof of address.
- 2 proofs of the address of the Irish parent
- Four colour photographs of the Irish citizen parent
If the application for the minor is made by a non-Irish citizen guardian (declarant) on behalf of the minor, the following should be included:
- Photocopy of a state-issued ID document of the declarant
- You may also need to include a photocopy of the state-issued ID of the parent
- Two separate proofs of address for the declarant
- Four colour photographs of the declarant
- Proof of guardianship or parental responsibility for declarant if they are not listed on the birth certificate as a parent
How to apply for the Foreign Births Register?
After gathering your supporting documents, you should complete the online Foreign Birth Register Ireland application form.
Foreign Birth Registrations cost the following:
|Fee||18 years of age and over||Under 18 years of age|
|Registration plus Certificate||€270||€145|
|Non-refundable postage and handling fee||€8||€8|
The above fees are to be paid online, and your application should be processed within six to 18 months. Ensure you submit all necessary and supporting documentation as requested by the Irish authorities.
Any requests for clarifications or documents or incomplete Foreign Birth Registration applications may result in a delay or refusal. If it is a refusal, you will receive a letter detailing why your application was refused and can appeal within six weeks of the date of the refusal.
For assistance with applying for an Irish passport, using the Foreign Birth Registration service, or appealing a letter of refusal for a foreign birth register or passport, please contact our expert immigration lawyers. Call us on (+353) 061 518 025.
Irish citizenship through adoption
If an Irish citizen adopts a child who is not Irish, the child can become a citizen through their Irish associations. Adopted children have the same rights as biological children as long as the Irish parent goes through the right processes so the adoption is recognised under Irish law.
If the Irish citizen lives abroad and adopts the child abroad, they should enter the adoption in the Register of Intercountry Adoptions, so it has the same legal status as an adoption made within the Irish State. If the Irish citizen is living in Ireland and processing a foreign adoption, they must obtain immigration clearance in advance from the Department of Justice so the adopted child can enter the country.
Irish citizenship by birth through special declaration
Depending on the circumstances around your birth, you may acquire Irish citizenship by making a declaration. Those who qualify include:
- Those born on the Irish island between December 2nd 1999 and December 31st 2004 to a foreign national with diplomatic immunity in the state at the time of their birth
- Those born between December 2nd 1999 and December 31st 2004 in the Irish sea or airspace to a foreign national on a foreign ship or aircraft
- Those born on the Irish island who declared that they were no longer Irish citizens but want to resume Irish citizenship. They can resume being citizens by making a declaration using form 1.
Total Law can provide full support if you want to claim Irish citizenship by birth for yourself or on behalf of your child. We are immigration and citizenship lawyers with many years of experience in Irish immigration law.
When you decide to use our Irish immigration and citizenship services, you will get a dedicated specialist to assess your or your child’s eligibility for Irish citizenship by birth. If you or your child qualifies, we will move forward with applying for an Irish passport or registering in the Foreign Birth Register. If you or your child do not qualify based on our assessment, we will advise on your options so you can consider other routes, such as becoming a naturalised Irish citizen.
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If you are from Northern Ireland, you may be entitled to Irish citizenship if you were born on the island of Ireland before January 1st 2005. If you were born on the island after that date, you might be entitled to Irish citizenship if at least one of your parents is an Irish or UK citizen. If you have an Irish grandparent, you may also be able to claim Irish citizenship.
Some of the rights of Irish citizens include:
- Unrestricted residency in Ireland
- To live, work, study, and travel in Ireland, the UK and the European Union (EU)
- To be protected by the rights set out in the Irish constitution and European Convention on Human Rights
- To access free education in the Irish state
- To vote in Irish and EU elections
- To run for the government
- To access diplomatic support outside Ireland
The Republic of Ireland permits dual citizenship, so you are not required to give up citizenship of another country to become a citizen of Ireland. So, you can hold your Irish passport and another at the same time. However, your native country may not allow dual citizenship, and if you wish to become an Irish citizen, you may have to give up the citizenship of your native country if that is the case.
Your application form, photographs, and some of the other documents must be witnessed before submitting them as part of the Foreign Birth Registration Ireland. That means you sign those documents before a witness who is an appropriate person personally known to you but not a family member.
The witness would then stamp the document or provide a business card if they don’t have a stamp, certify it is a true copy, and verify them (if necessary). Your witness must be actively working in one of the following occupations:
- Garda Síochána/ Police Officer
- Notary Public/ Commissioner for Oaths
- School Principal/ Vice-Principal/ Teacher/ School Secretary/ Pre-school Manager/ Montessori Teacher/ Lecturer
- Peace Commissioner
- Member of Clergy
- Speech Therapist
- Medical Doctor
- Bank Manager/ Assistant Bank Manager or Credit Union Manager or Assistant Manager
- Elected Public Representative
- Chartered Engineer
If you acquire Irish citizenship through naturalisation, you may lose it if you have been resident outside the State for seven years after your naturalisation.
Based on the Irish Nationality and Citizenship act of 1956, the Minister for Justice has the power to revoke a certificate of naturalisation based on being ordinarily resident outside Ireland for that period. If your naturalisation certificate is revoked, you will lose your Irish citizenship.
However, you can retain Irish citizenship if you register annually by completing a declaration of intention to retain Irish citizenship using Form 5 at an Irish embassy, consular office, or minister.
You can apply for your Irish passport once you are in the Foreign Births Register and meet the other criteria for an Irish passport.
If you are entitled to Irish citizenship by birth in Ireland, you don’t need to register in the Foreign Births Register and can apply for an Irish passport automatically.