Irish Citizenship by Descent: Overview
If you have parents or grandparents with Irish citizenship (or parents who are entitled to it), you may be eligible for Irish citizenship by descent. You do not need to have been born in Ireland in order to be eligible.
If you were born outside of Ireland, you may still be eligible for Irish citizenship if any of the following apply to you:
- At least one of your parents was born in Ireland and eligible for Irish citizenship
- At least one of your grandparents was born in Ireland. In this case, your birth must be registered on Ireland’s Foreign Births Register
- When you were born, one of your parents had already become an Irish citizen via the Foreign Births Register or through naturalising
If you were not born in Ireland, you will need to register your birth with the Foreign Births Register in order to receive Irish citizenship.
- Irish Citizenship by Descent: Overview
- Routes to Irish Citizenship by Descent
- Eligibility Criteria for Irish Citizenship by Descent
- Documents Required for Irish Citizenship by Descent
- How to Apply for Irish Citizenship by Descent
- Application Cost for Irish Citizenship by Descent
- Application Processing Times
- Getting an Irish Passport
- How can Total Law help?
- Frequently Asked Questions
If you were born outside of Ireland, you may still be entitled to Irish citizenship if any of the following circumstances apply to you:
- If either of your parents were born in Ireland and were either Irish citizens themselves or entitled to Irish citizenship
- If you and at least one of your parents were both born outside of Ireland but your parent was an Irish citizen, you are also entitled to Irish citizenship. In this case, you must register your birth with the Foreign Births Register
- If you were born abroad and have a grandparent who was born in Ireland, even if neither of your parents were, you are entitled to Irish citizenship. In this case, you will also need to register your birth with the Foreign Births Register
Born in Ireland
If you were born in Ireland, you are entitled to Irish citizenship by descent in the following circumstances:
- If you were born in Ireland on or after 1 January 2005 and either of your parents are an Irish or British citizen, you are eligible for Irish citizenship. This is also true if you were born in Northern Ireland
- If you were born in Ireland on or after 1 January 2005 but your parents were neither Irish nor British citizens, you are eligible for Irish citizenship in either of the following two circumstances:
- At least one of your parents lived in either Ireland or Northern Ireland for 3 of the 4 years before your birth
- At least one of your parents has permanent residence in either Ireland or Northern Ireland
Note that, if you were born in Ireland before 31 December 2005, you are automatically an Irish citizen, regardless of your parents’ and grandparents’ citizenship. If you were born after this point, however, a change in the law means that automatic citizenship by birth no longer applies to you.
Also note that, even if you are not eligible for Irish citizenship by descent, you are automatically an Irish citizen by birth if you were born in Ireland and are not eligible for citizenship of any other country.
Eligibility Criteria for Irish Citizenship by Descent
In addition to meeting at least one of the descent criteria listed above, there are a number of other conditions which you will generally have to satisfy when applying for Irish citizenship by descent:
- If your Irish relation is further back than a great-grandparent, your application is likely to be unsuccessful
- Applications based on ascent, i.e. being the parent or grandparent of an Irish citizen, and applications based on being the sibling of an Irish citizen, are generally unsuccessful.
Applications based on an Irish cousin, aunt, or uncle are also unlikely to be unsuccessful, in situations where you don’t have a shared Irish grandparent
Documents Required for Irish Citizenship by Descent
The documents which you will require for your citizenship application will depend on the type of citizenship by descent for which you are eligible.
Across all citizenship by descent application types, you as the applicant will require the following documents:
- An application form which has been completed, signed, and witnessed
- Your birth certificate (which shows your parents’ details)
- Photocopy of valid state-issued ID (e.g. your passport or driving licence)
- Your marriage certificate (where applicable)
- Your change of name document (where applicable)
- 2 documents showing proof of address
- 4 passport photos. These should all be in colour and 2 of them should be witnessed
If you are applying for Irish citizenship by descent on the grounds of an Irish born grandparent, you will also need:
- Grandparent’s birth certificate
- Grandparent’s marriage certificate (where applicable)
- Grandparent’s change of name document (where applicable)
If you are applying on the grounds of having either an Irish citizen parent or a parent entitled to Irish citizenship, you will need:
- Parent’s birth certificate
- Parent’s marriage certificate (where applicable)
- Parent’s change of name document (where applicable)
Note that, if your parent(s) gained Irish citizenship through naturalisation, you will also need to submit their Irish Naturalisation Certificate. The documents submitted must, in most cases, be the original version. The main exception to this is the state-issued ID, which can be sent in photocopy form.
How to Apply for Irish Citizenship by Descent
If you were born outside of Ireland, you will need to register your birth with Ireland’s Foreign Birth Registry. Once you are registered on the registry, you are automatically an Irish citizen.
The application form for applying for citizenship is completed and submitted online. This application should be submitted to Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs. You will need to make sure that you have all of the required documents before starting your application.
Once you are successfully registered on the Foreign Birth Registry, you will automatically have Irish citizenship. However, getting an Irish passport is a separate process, and is discussed later in this article.
If your application is unsuccessful but the documents which you submitted were all correct, you are eligible to appeal against the decision. In this case, you must send your letter of appeal within 6 weeks of the date on which your application was rejected.
Application Cost for Irish Citizenship by Descent
The application cost of applying for Irish citizenship by descent depends on the age of the applicant.
If you are 18 or older, you will need to pay the following costs:
- €270 for the registration and certificate
- €8 postage and handling fee
If you are under 18, however, the costs will be as follows:
- €145 for the registration and certificate
- €8 postage and handling fee
In both cases, the payment will be made online when you submit your application.
Application Processing Times
It can take over two years for an application for Irish citizenship by descent to be processed. In particular, applications where the documents are submitted incorrectly or incompletely are likely to take longer. At the moment (September 2023) there is a higher number of citizenship applications than usual and a higher number of applications which are being delayed based on submission of incorrect or incomplete documentation.
Accordingly, the length of the application processing time will also depend on the number of other applications which are simultaneously being processed by the Foreign Birth Registry.
Note that, as many of the documents being submitted must be the original copies, you may face delays in your ability to apply for Irish citizenship if any of your family members with the same Irish parent or grandparent are planning to apply at the same time. Only one person at a time will be able to use the original documents for their application.
To ensure that you have all the necessary documents for your own application, contact Total Law today on +353 061 518 025.
Getting an Irish Passport
Getting Irish citizenship does not immediately grant you an Irish passport. To get an Irish passport, you will need to submit a separate application once you have successfully obtained Irish citizenship.
In many cases, it is possible to apply for your passport online. This is true if you live in Ireland, Europe, or the United States, for instance. In other cases, you may need to contact your local Irish embassy or consulate to find the specific application process.
When applying for your passport online, you will need the following documents:
- A passport photo which meets Ireland’s passport photo requirements
- Payment method
- An email address
The application costs for an online passport application are as follows:
- €75 for a standard 10-year passport
- €105 for a large (66 page) 10- year passport. This passport is better for people who travel frequently and so need a passport with more space for stamps
- €100 for a bundle which includes both a 10-year passport and a passport card
The current processing time for an Irish passport application is 20 days for a first-time applicant. Passport renewals generally take less time to process, with a current processing time of 10 days.
How can Total Law help?
Obtaining Irish citizenship is an increasingly popular option with people from around the world who are of Irish descent. Ireland is a European country with much to offer, including many areas of natural beauty, a rich culture, and easy access to the rest of Europe.
However, applying for Irish citizenship by descent is a complicated process which can take longer than 2 years. For example, applications for Irish citizenship are increasingly being delayed by the submission of the wrong documents during the application.
At Total Law, we have many years of experience in helping our clients with cases just like this. We can help you with every stage of the application process, from making sure that you have the correct documents to helping you apply for your passport once you’ve successfully obtained Irish citizenship.
Contact Total Law today on either +353 061 518 025 or using our online application form and get started on your own path to Irish citizenship by descent.
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Having an Irish great grandparent does not automatically entitle you to Irish citizenship by descent. However, in some cases it may be possible to get citizenship through Irish association, such as having an Irish great grandparent and having resided in Ireland for at least 3 years. Such cases are decided at the discretion of Ireland’s Minister of Justice.
Getting an Irish passport is not automatic upon obtaining Irish citizenship. Upon receiving Irish citizenship, you will need to apply for your Irish passport separately. The process for applying for an Irish passport is outlined in this article.
In situations where you do not qualify for Irish citizenship by descent, you may still be eligible for citizenship by association. This includes circumstances such as being adopted by an Irish citizen or being the civil partner of an Irish citizen.
In such cases, however, it will generally be necessary to have resided in Ireland for at least 3 years at the point of making the application. This is in order to demonstrate that you have a reasonable connection to Ireland.
Note that citizenship by association applications are decided on a discretionary basis by Ireland’s Minister of Justice.
As Ireland does allow dual citizenship – i.e. simultaneous citizenship of two countries – you will not necessarily need to renounce your current citizenship in order to get Irish citizenship. If your current country of citizenship does not itself allow dual citizenship, however, you will then need to renounce your current citizenship in order to get Irish citizenship.
Countries which do allow dual citizenship include the UK and US.
Assuming that they meet the eligibility criteria, Americans of Irish descent are able to become Irish citizens. However, they must meet the conditions outlined in this article. An American citizen who has never lived in Ireland but who has an Irish great grandparent, for instance, is very unlikely to be granted Irish citizenship.
No, there is no language requirement for Irish citizenship. You do not need to speak Irish in order to become a citizen of Ireland.