The Foreign Births Register Explained
January 4, 2024
Applying for Irish Citizenship Through a Great-Grandparent
February 2, 2024

This article will explore how U.S. citizens can become Irish citizens by descent, and will list the advantages that being an Irish citizen, and having dual citizenship, grants. We will also look at eligibility requirements for U.S. citizens, and outline how and where to apply. We will highlight that with the right support the application process can be straightforward and free of complications.

Citizenship by descent
Acquiring Irish citizenship by descent means having your citizenship recognized that has been passed down through your family lineage and bloodline. Irish citizenship can be granted to those who have an ancestor (a parent, grandparent or, in some rare cases, a great-grandparent) who was an Irish citizen.

Advantages of Irish citizenship
Ireland allows dual citizenship, and so as a U.S. citizen you can hold both Irish and American citizenship, and enjoy the benefits of both. Being an Irish citizen grants you the rights as those born in Ireland and brings multiple rewards: you can hold an Irish passport, have access to Ireland’s highly-regarded health and education systems, vote in elections, and participate in the economic opportunities that Ireland’s flourishing economy affords.

Additionally, Irish citizenship also means you are a citizen of Europe, and can therefore live, travel, work and study in any of the 27 member states without time or visa restrictions.

To qualify for Irish citizenship through descent the following must apply:

  • If you are A: Born in the island of Ireland on or before 31 December 2004, you are Entitled to Irish citizenship or you are an Irish citizen.
  • If you are B: Born on the island of Ireland on or after 1 January 2005, you are entitled to Irish citizenship if one or both of your parents is Irish or British, or entitled to live in Northern Ireland or the State of Ireland without restriction on their residency, or is a foreign national legally resident in the island of Ireland for 3 out of 4 years immediately before your birth.
  • If you are C, a child of A, born outside the island of Ireland, you are an Irish citizen.
  • If you are D, a child of C and a grandchild of A, born outside the island of Ireland, you are entitled to Irish citizenship, but you must first register in the Foreign Births Registration.
  • If you are E, a child of D and a great-grandchild of A, born outside the island of Ireland, you are entitled to Irish citizenship, by having your birth registered in the Foreign Births Register, but only if your parent D had registered by the time of your birth.

In relation to an ancestor who is a great-grandparent, there are some specific conditions regarding to eligibility. To be able to make a for claim Irish citizenship through a great-grandparent, the following criteria must be met:

  • Your great-grandparent was born in Ireland.
  • Your parent acquired Irish citizenship because their grandparent (your great-grandparent) was an Irish citizen; and
  • Your parent had Irish citizenship at the time of your birth (if born after 1986) or obtained it between 1956 and 1986.

It should be noted that applications made regarding an ancestor who is a great-grandparent need to be filed through the Department of Justice, and all final decisions are at the Irish Minister for Justice’s discretion.

The Foreign Births Register
The Foreign Births Register (FBR) is for those who are able to become Irish citizens through their Irish-born grandparents, or their parent (although not born in Ireland) who was an Irish citizen at the time of their birth. The FBR is for those who are applying through descent and is essentially a register of those born outside of Ireland who became Irish citizens through their parents or grandparents. If your parent registered this way through their grandparent (your great-grandfather), you also have a right to claim Irish citizenship.

As a U.S. citizen, how do I apply?
To obtain citizenship through descent you will need to apply to register your birth on the Foreign Births Register, which is within the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA). In order to do this, you will be required to do the following:

  • Collate your documents (original copies), and then complete the online Foreign Births Registration application, which can be accessed on the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) website.
  • Once completed, you will need to print a copy of your application and make an online payment.
  •  A witness (professional who is known to you, but not a relative) must certify “as a true copy of the original” documents and photos. Your witness also needs to sign and date two of your passport-style photos and a copy of your state-issued identity documentation.

One of the most complex phases of the application process is gathering and retrieving the documents required that prove your family lineage and bloodline to the ancestor who held Irish citizenship. As any error or discrepancy in documentation can result in delay and possible rejection of your application.

For this reason, it is vitally important to be clear as to what evidence is needed as part of your application, and how to retrieve it. At Irish Citizenship Assistance, we provide a comprehensive package of support, from start to finish, to ensure that you are given the right advice and guidance each step of the way, making the likelihood of a successful outcome guaranteed.

If you would like information on how to apply, please see our A-Z guide.

Document requirements for Irish citizenship by descent
You will need to send the following documents:

  • A signed and witnessed application form;
  • Your birth certificate (original), showing your parents’ details;
  • A copy of your current state-issued identification;
  • Two original documents that show proof of your current address;
  • Four passport-style photographs (in color).

Documents required regarding your ancestor with Irish descent (parent or grandparent):

  • Original birth certificate (that shows their parents’ information);
  • Original marriage certificate (if applicable);
  • Any change of name document (if applicable);

  • A certified copy of their identification that has been issued by the State (if alive);
  • A death certificate (if deceased).

Return of documents
Once your application has been processed, your documents shall be returned to you. You will not need to include a pre-paid envelope, as they will be sent to you by recorded mail and you will need to sign for them upon receipt.

You will need to pay for your registration and certificate, as well as a postage and handling fee. Payable amounts depend on age. If you are under 18 the registration and certificate fee is €145, and the postage and handling is €8 (non-refundable).

If you are over 18 the registration and certificate fee is €270, and the postage and handling is €8 (non-refundable).

As a U.S citizen and resident, where do I apply?
The first point to make is that Irish embassies and consulates in the U.S., as well as around the world, DO NOT process applications for Irish citizenship. Citizenship by descent applications must go to the Foreign Births Registration Department in Dublin, unless otherwise instructed.

In many respects this is an advantage, as it removes the waiting period for an appointment at the consulate, which can be lengthy.

Furthermore, once you have collated all your documents, the application process is done online, which makes it more straightforward. All you have to do is access the relevant application form, via the  Department of Foreign Affairs homepage, and, once completed, you can print and send form, along with supporting documentation, to the address that will be provided on the application form.

Waiting times
Foreign Birth Registration applications are currently taking approximately 9 months to process, providing that all documentation and supporting evidence is included and without error.

Once citizenship is granted
Irish citizenship is granted on the date of registration, and once your details have been entered onto the Foreign Births Register, you are an Irish citizen and can apply for an Irish passport. You are then free and able to enjoy all the benefits that dual citizenship gives, such as unrestricted travel, study, and work in Ireland and any of the 27 EU countries.

This article has explained how U.S. citizens can apply for Irish citizenship by descent, and has listed the advantages of Irish citizenship. It has also outlined that, with the right support, the application process can be straightforward, and completed without complication.

If you are interested in acquiring Irish citizenship, and would like to speak to one of our expert advisors; then please do contact us directly, and one of our friendly team will be in touch to answer your queries.

Contact us!