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When applying for Irish citizenship by descent you must provide certain documents to prove your lineage and eligibility. The specific requirements may vary depending on your individual circumstances, such as whether you are applying through a parent or grandparent.

For many individuals with Irish ancestry, the allure of reconnecting with their roots and obtaining Irish citizenship holds undeniable appeal. Ireland offers high quality of life with access to a vibrant job market. Furthermore, holding an Irish passport gives the possibility to work, study, and live in the rest of the European Union.

The path to Irish citizenship by descent requires the obtainment of several documents that are needed to verify your lineage to establish a direct connection to your Irish roots. This article will explain what essential documents are necessary to apply for Irish citizenship by descent and the process to file your application.

Your access to Irish citizenship by descent is based on your familial connection to an Irish citizen. If one of your parents was born in Ireland, you are automatically an Irish citizen and can apply for a passport directly. You are also eligible if your parent was born abroad, but acquired Irish citizenship by naturalization or descent. This is also the case if your grandparent was born in Ireland. This process is different as you are not granted Irish citizenship automatically. You will need to have your citizenship recognized through steps that will prove your lineage. This is done through the Irish Foreign Birth Registry.

As the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs states: “To become an Irish citizen, your great-grandparent’s grandchild (your parent) who is of Irish descent must have registered in the Foreign Births Register between the years 1956 and 1986, or if you were born after 1986, they registered before you were born.”

The first official step involves filling out your application online through the Irish Foreign Birth Registry. The Irish Foreign Birth Registry is the authority that will recognize your Irish citizenship.

Document checklist
You can apply for Irish citizenship for yourself and your minor at the same time. You will need:

  • Your original civil birth certificate (showing the Irish parent’s details). This might need to be translated into English if it is in a foreign language.
  • Your marriage certificate or change of name document (if applicable).
  • Certified photocopy of current state-issued identification (passport, driver’s license, national identity card).
  • Two proofs of address (not photocopies). If you are applying on behalf of a child, you must also include a letter from the child’s school or doctor.
  • Four color photographs.

You will also need to provide specific documents pertaining to the Irish ancestor that proves your lineage to that Irish ancestor (parent or grandparent). These documents are:

  • The original civil birth certificate of your ancestor.
  • Original marriage certificate or change of name document (if applicable) of your ancestor.
  • A certified photocopy of your ancestor’s current state-issued identification (passport, driver’s license, national identity card), or certified copy of death certificate if they are deceased
  • Other documents such as naturalization or adoption certificates might be required.

Applying with siblings
If you are applying simultaneously with your brothers or sisters, you can send your applications together in one envelope. You can use the same original documents for the Irish citizen you are applying through. You should include a letter explaining that you want the documents to be used for all the applications.

Other types of cases
Some cases are more straightforward than others. If you are applying for Irish citizenship through a grandparent born in Ireland, for example, and have all the necessary documents, your case will be easier to process. However, if they naturalized, you must also provide the naturalization certificate (as mentioned above). If they were an Irish citizen, but born outside Ireland, you will need the original Foreign Birth Registration Certificate. You will also need the original adoption certificate if your parent was adopted and naturalized as an Irish citizen.

Please note that these documents must be originals and cannot be photocopied. Depending on the case, you might also require a certified translation.

Submitting to the Irish Foreign Birth Registry
After compiling all necessary documents, you will submit them via the Irish Foreign Birth Registry website, along with their online form. Forgetting a document or sending one with errors can cause delays in your application. Once you have filled out the online form, you must print it and sign it before a witness. The next step will require you to pay a fee. It is €278 for adults and €158 for children.

An important step: having your form and photograph witnessed
Submitting your application with all the required paperwork is not enough; it must also be witnessed. This is to certify that a person is witnessing you sign your form and can verify your identity. Indeed, you must sign the printed copy of your application form in front of a witness who is personally known to you. The witness must be a member of one of the professions listed on So please see official guidance to ensure certainty. About twenty professions are recognized, including doctors, teachers, notary public or police officers.       

The witness will also sign and verify your passport photos. If you are applying on behalf of a child, you must submit passport photos of both you and the child. The role of the witness is to:

  • Write ‘certified to be a true copy/translation of the original seen by me’ on the document.
  • Sign and date the document.
  • Print their name under the signature.
  • Add their occupation, address and telephone number, attach their stamp/seal, business card, or include their professional register reference number.

The witness is not required to give a copy of ID or passport, as long as they have provided their contact details and verified your documents with their official work stamp, then this should suffice.

Next, you will send your application to the address printed on the top right-hand corner of your application form. In most cases this will be the Foreign Birth Registration Department in Dublin, or a specified Irish Embassy or Consulate.

Obtain your Irish birth certificate
The current processing time of applications is 9 months. Once your application is approved, you will receive an Irish birth certificate. This will recognize your Irish citizenship and allow you to apply for an Irish passport.

Planning ahead and using the help of experts
As described in this article, some cases are more challenging than others. Tracing your family history can lead to various obstacles, especially when dealing with documents from different regions of Ireland. Securing documents abroad might also require court orders. This meticulous planning often requires the help and expertise of legal professionals. A mistake or a forgotten document can result in delays, or rejection. Working with a legal expert ensures that you get the assistance you need from the start and that no stone is left unturned when gathering and reviewing your documents.

Irish Citizenship Assistance offers help at any point in the process. Whether you are contemplating pursuing Irish citizenship, or have already gathered some documents in preparation for acquiring Irish citizenship, we are here and ready to help. Our experts will guide you through the intricacies of the application process and navigate any potential challenges that may arise. Contact us at for more information regarding your case and eligibility, and we will be delighted to assist you.

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