Irish Citizenship by Descent for UK Citizens

If you are a UK citizen adopted in Ireland or have Irish parents or grandparents, you may be eligible for Irish citizenship by descent.

For more information about Irish citizenship for British nationals, including the eligibility criteria, how to apply, and to receive bespoke immigration advice, contact any of our immigration lawyers. You can reach us on + 44 (0) 333 305 9375 or contact us online today.

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    Overview of the Irish Citizenship by Descent

    Irish citizenship by descent is also a route for British citizens to become Irish citizens and get the full benefits of both. This has become popular for UK citizens who still want to be part of the European Union even after Brexit. You can claim Irish citizenship if you descend from Irish ancestry by registering your birth via the Foreign Births Register.

    To be considered an Irish citizen by descent, you must be born or adopted in Ireland or by parents or grandparents who were either born in Ireland or Ireland nationals. However, note that just being born in Ireland does not solely qualify you to get Irish citizenship; you must also meet other eligibility requirements.

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    Routes to Irish Citizenship by Descent

    For you to claim Irish citizenship by descent as a British citizen, you have to be in at least one of the categories below:

    You were Born in Ireland Before January 1st, 2005

    If you are a UK national born in Ireland before January 1st, 2005, you can claim to be an Irish citizen. You can go ahead and apply for an Irish passport. All you need to do is to show an Irish government-issued birth certificate which indicates that you were born in Ireland.

    You were Born in Ireland on or After January 1st, 2005

    If you were born in Ireland on or after January 1st, 2005, you must meet further eligibility requirements before you can claim Irish citizenship. Below are the extra eligibility requirements.

    You Have Irish or UK Parent(s)

    If one or both parents were Irish or UK citizens when you were born, you can claim Irish citizenship. This stands even if the parent who was an Irish or UK citizen died before you were born.

    Your Parents Are Not Irish or British Citizens

    If your parents are not Irish or British citizens, what determines whether you can lay claim to an Irish citizen is your parents’ place and status of residence. Your parent(s) must have lived in Ireland or Northern Ireland for 3 out of the 4 years before they gave birth to you.

    Do note that years in Ireland as a student or waiting for a refugee application approval is not part of the required 3 years. Alternatively, you can meet this requirement if your parent(s) have permanent residence status in Ireland or Northern Ireland.

    You were Born to an Irish Parent Outside Ireland

    If you have a parent who is an Irish citizen but was born to them abroad, you can lay claim to Irish citizenship by descent.

    You were Born in Ireland But Have No Citizenship Elsewhere

    If you were born in Ireland without citizenship in another country, you can claim to be an Irish citizen.

    You were born Abroad

    You are still eligible for Irish citizenship by birth or descent if you have a late Irish parent.

    You Have Irish Parents Who were born Outside of Ireland

    If you were born outside Ireland to Irish parents who were also born outside of Ireland, you can lay claim to Irish Citizenship. To do this, you must register your birth with the Foreign Births register. This does not apply if your parents were abroad because of public service to the state. Your Irish citizenship starts after you register, not when you were born.

    Irish Passport Via Ancestry or Irish Grandparents

    If you and your parents were not born in Ireland, but one of your grandparents was, you are entitled to become an Irish citizen. However, you must first register with the Foreign Births register.

    Irish Citizenship by Descent Through Other Irish Ancestors or Association

    You cannot claim Irish citizenship if none of your parents or grandparents was an Irish citizen when you were given birth to. Generally, you cannot also claim Irish citizenship because your non-immediate relation, like a cousin, uncle or aunt, is an Irish citizen. However, you can be granted Irish citizenship based on blood ties or adoption at the minister’s discretion.

    If you intend to lay claims following this route, you have to ensure that:

    • You have legally stayed in Ireland for at least 3 years. This goes to prove you have a tie to Ireland.
    • Your application is not based on an Irish citizen whose relation to you doesn’t go further than a great-grandparent.
    • Your application is not based on the fact that you are the parent, grandparent, sibling or cousin of an Irish citizen.
    • Your application can take up to 2 years to process.

    Irish Citizenship By Adoption

    If an Irish citizen adopted you, you have also become an Irish citizen.

    If you were adopted abroad, your parents would have to enter your adoption record into the Register of Intercountry Adoptions. This gives your adoption legal status in Ireland.

    How to Get an Irish Passport by Descent

    If you are an Irish citizen by descent, you have to lay claim to your Irish citizenship by registering your birth with the Foreign Births Register. After that, you can now get your Irish passport.

    How to Register a Birth on a Foreign Births Register

    As a British national born to Irish parents who want to claim Irish citizenship, your first step is to apply to the Foreign Births Register. You can apply for yourself or your child. Here is the step to follow:

    Gather the Documents You Need To Show

    • Your birth certificate shows the details of your parents.
    • Your marriage or change of name document.
    • A copy of your government-issued identity card.
    • Two proofs of address. If you are applying for your dependent child, you must show a letter from the child’s physician.
    • Four passport photographs.
    • If you adopted the child you are applying for; you must attach the proof of adoption.

    You also have to submit the documents of the person through which you are laying claim to be an Irish citizen. This person could typically be your parent or grandparent. These include:

    • Their birth certificate
    • Their marriage certificate or change of name document.
    • Their government-issued identity card.
    • Their death certificate, if they are late.

    If you are laying claim to Irish citizenship through your grandparents, you must still show your parents’ documents. However, when applying with your siblings, it is a good idea to make the applications together, put them in one envelope and send it to the proper address. This helps the Department of Foreign Affairs treat your application more swiftly, as it is seen as one. You and your siblings can also use one document to make an application for all of you.

    After you have gathered all the documents, go to the Department of Foreign Affairs website and fill out the form there. When you are done, submit it and print the acknowledgement page. Sign and send it to:

    Department of Foreign Affairs

    Foreign Births Register

    Consular Section

    80 St Stephen’s Green

    Dublin 2


    You must fill out the form in the presence of a witness who knows you personally.  They must be of the following professions:

    • Teacher
    • Physiotherapist
    • Clergy
    • Lawyer
    • Veterinarian
    • Elected Public servant
    • Dentists
    • Pharmacy
    • Police Officer
    • Speech therapist
    • Chartered Engineer.

    Your witness must also verify and then sign your passport photographs. They will also have to use their official stamp on your form. If your witness has no stamp, their business card will suffice. Finally, they must also certify that your ID card is legitimate.

    Fees and Processing Times

    When submitting your application, know that an application fee applies. For adults, it is €278 and €158 for children. It will also take 9 months to approve your application to the Foreign Births Register. This is because the applications are treated on a first-come, first-served basis.

    If you are stateless or expecting a child who will be stateless, you can contact us today for priority support. Call us at +44 (0)333 305 9375.  The Department of Foreign Affairs has also provided a phone number – +353 1 5683331 – to call for urgent queries of this nature. You should also do this if you are expecting a child who will not have automatic Irish citizenship at birth.

    Are you a UK citizen exploring the possibility of obtaining Irish citizenship by descent? Take the first step towards realizing your Irish heritage and contact our experienced immigration lawyer today Contact Us

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      Citizenship Ceremony

      This is the last step towards becoming an Irish citizen; you must attend a citizenship ceremony. There, you will pledge loyalty to the nation. The Irish immigration officials will send you mail concerning the venue and time. They will also tell you the requirements and how to prepare for the ceremony, including the fee.

      When this is done, you have become an Irish citizen and can now apply for an Irish passport through the Department of Foreign Affairs.

      Advantages of Irish Citizenship and Remaining an EU Citizen

      One of the reasons why British nationals with Irish descent are obtaining Irish citizenship is that it gives them the best of both worlds. If you apply to claim Irish citizenship through descent, here are some advantages if your application is approved.

      • You have free access to all 28 EU member states. You can study, work and travel to any EU country without restriction.
      • You will still be an EU citizen.
      • All your rights as an Irish, British and EU citizen will be transferred to your children.
      • You get to preserve your EU citizenship and, as such, won’t be forced out of the EU country you are currently staying in.
      • Your children will pay cheaper tuition should they choose to study in any EU member state, unlike other foreign nationals whose tuition fees are usually higher.

      Speak with an Immigration Lawyer at Total Law

      Irish citizenship by descent is gaining increased popularity after Brexit. It is a way for British nationals to still enjoy the privileges of being a member of the EU if they meet the requirements.

      If you’re a parent looking to apply for Irish citizenship by descent, Total Law can help.

      We are well-grounded in Irish immigration law and can assist you in making your application seamless. Regardless of your case, we have the tools and expertise to help you.

      If you’re looking for assistance with the Irish citizenship by descent requirements, unsure how to navigate the application process, or need to speak to an immigration professional regarding your immigration case, we can help.

      If you want to apply for another kind of visa altogether, based on your circumstances, we can also help.

      For more information about the services we provide and how we can help you, reach out to a member of our team today. Call us on + 44 (0) 333 305 9375, or contact us online.

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                Frequently Asked Questions

                You can get an Irish passport as a British citizen. However, you have to show that you have Irish ancestry (parents or grandparents were Irish or born in Ireland) or that you were born in Ireland.

                You can get an Irish passport if you have been married to an Irish citizen for more than 3 years, above 18 years, and have lived for a while in Ireland or Northern Ireland.

                You need not renounce your British citizenship to get an Irish passport. You can apply for Irish citizenship if you are eligible.