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This article will discuss Irish citizenship by descent and will outline how citizenship by descent is acquired, as well as address some of the other avenues to becoming an Irish citizen. It will also look at the benefits that Irish citizenship affords, and the implications and importance of passing citizenship on to your children.

  • Live and work in Ireland without restriction. The Irish economy is abundant with opportunities, and access to the EU is another reason that makes Irish citizenship appealing.
  • You can access to the highly regarded education and healthcare that Ireland is known for.
  • You can vote in general elections, constitutional referendum, presidential elections, and be elected to government in Ireland and in the European Union.
  • Holding an Irish passport means that you can travel to many countries visa-free, or visa-on-arrival.
  • As an Irish citizen, you have freedom of movement within the European Union. You can travel, live, work, and study in any of the 27 EU member states.
  • Irish citizenship also brings protection at a global level, in that being an Irish citizen means you have the protection of Irish consulates and embassies located around the world.
  • The attraction of dual citizenship: Holding Irish citizenship as well as another nationality is permitted; giving you the benefits of having two citizenships and two passports.

Who can apply?
Even if you were not born in Ireland, you can still become an Irish citizen if:
1) You have a grandparent who was born on the island of Ireland, or;
2) You have a parent who was an Irish citizen at the time of your birth, even if they were not born on the island of Ireland.If you fall into either of the above categories, then you are able to apply for citizenship through foreign birth registration. Once a person is entered onto the Foreign Births Register, they are an Irish citizen and entitled to apply for an Irish passport.

Why it matters to register on the foreign birth register
Applicants who are eligible to apply to enter onto the Foreign Births Register may also want their children to gain Irish citizenship. On this there are two very significant points that you must be aware of:

  • You child is eligible to apply for entry onto the Foreign Births Register if they were born after your entry onto the Foreign Births Register.
  • Your child is not eligible to apply if they were born before you were registered, because you were not an Irish citizen at the time of their birth.

Expectant parents
An expectant parent who is making an application to be entered on the Foreign Births Register must state this on the application. If an expectant parent is not on the Foreign Births Register when the child is born, the child will not be entitled to Irish citizenship.
With the above considered, if you qualify to apply to enter the Foreign Births Register, and would like that your child becomes an Irish citizen and inherits all the benefits that citizenship confers, then it is important register on the foreign birth register before their birth.

How to register your birth
Registering your birth on the Foreign Births Register will involve:

  1. Gather all documentation (original copies).
  2. Complete application form which is online.
  3. Print a copy of your application and make online payment.
  4. A witness (professional who is known to you, but not a relative) must certify documents and photos.
  5. Send form, with all documents, photos, and checklist to either the specified Irish embassy/consulate, or PO Box address in Ireland or Foreign Births Registration department.

Great Britain/USA/Canada/Australia residents
Irish Embassies and Consulates in Great Britain, USA, Canada and Australia do not process foreign birth registrations, as all applications are now processed in Dublin. There is no public office and so all applications must be sent via post.

Document requirements for Irish citizenship by descent
Foreign births registration requires that you submit official documentation that may relate to three generations, and have been issued by multiple jurisdictions. It is important that all (original copy) documentation, including birth, marriage and death certificates, are included with your application.Once the application process has been completed, your original certificates will be returned to you. Your documentation will be returned by recorded mail; there is no need to send a prepaid envelope, and you will have to sign for the delivery.

How long does it take?
Applications are processed in strict date order and are currently taking approximately 9 months. Applications that require clarification, further documents or are incomplete, will obviously cause delay. To avoid delays please ensure you enclose all correct documentation and pay the application fee at the time of application.

How else can I become an Irish citizen?
If you are not eligible to apply through the Foreign Births Register, then you may be able to pursue citizenship through either naturalization or association. To apply for naturalization, you must be physically resident in Ireland for at least 5 out of the last 9 years, including 1 year of continuous residence immediately before your application.
You may also be eligible to apply for Irish citizenship through Irish associations. Irish association means that you are related through blood, affinity or adoption to a person who is entitled to be an Irish citizen. It can also apply to those in the Irish public service who reside abroad, or to those who have refugee status as defined by law.
It is the Citizenship Division, which ispart of the Immigration Service within The Department of Justice and Equality that is responsible for these applications. And it is the Minister for Justice and Equality who is responsible for, and has absolute discretion, deciding who is eligible to apply for Irish citizenship through naturalization and association. 

This article has outlined what citizenship by descent is and how to apply for citizenship by descent. It has also listed some of the other ways that Irish citizenship can be acquired. We have explored that if you would like your children to have Irish citizenship, and inherit the benefits that being an Irish citizen affords, it is important to registered on the Foreign Births Register before they are born.
If you would like more information on anything we have discussed here you can visit our homepage at If you would like to ask any more questions or seek further advice then please feel free to contact us directly here and one of our friendly experts will be in touch to answer your queries.

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