How To Get Irish Dual Citizenship By Descent

My family talked about applying for our Irish dual citizenship for years but the process always seemed too overwhelming. From acquiring all of the necessary documents and determining who could witness those documents, the application process kept getting put off.

With all of the global political changes, I decided it was finally time to take advantage of the benefits of having Irish American dual citizenship and an Irish passport.

I wasn’t born in Ireland but I became an Irish citizen by descent two years ago. If you have Irish parents or grandparents, you can become an Irish citizen too!

I’m going to teach you exactly how to get Irish dual citizenship by descent.

How To Get Irish Dual Citizenship By Descent

Ireland is more lenient than other countries when it comes to claiming dual citizenship. Instead of only acquiring Ireland citizenship through your parents, they also allow you to claim citizenship through your grandparents. This is all because of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act of 1956.

If one of your parents was born in Ireland and was an Irish citizen at the time of your birth, then you are automatically an Irish citizen. You don’t need to apply to become an Irish citizen and can apply for your Irish passport now.

If you weren’t born in Ireland, you can become an Irish citizen through one of your grandparents. If one of your grandparents was born in Ireland, or if one of your parents was an Irish citizen at the time of your birth (even though they were not born in Ireland), you can apply to become an Irish citizen.

If one of the above applies to you then you can become an Irish citizen through what is called Foreign Birth Registration. Once you are entered on the Foreign Births Register, you are considered an Irish citizen and you’ll receive a certificate. You will need this certificate to apply for an Irish passport.

So, in my case, both of my grandparents on my Father’s side were born in Ireland, so I was able to apply for my Foreign Birth Registration.

Can An American Get Dual Citizenship In Ireland?

Yes, both Ireland and the United States permit dual citizenship, so you can still be an American. There are some countries that do not allow dual citizenship, and in that case you would have to choose which citizenship to give up.

Temple Bar Dublin Ireland
The Temple Bar, Dublin
Guiness Storehouse Dublin Ireland
Guinness Storehouse, Dublin

How To Apply For Irish Dual Citizenship

If you have a grandparent that was born in Ireland, then you will need to prove your lineage through a lot of documentation. All of these documents will be used for your Foreign Birth Registration. I’ve detailed the steps below for an adult application, but you can also find more information from the Irish Embassy here.

Step 1: Collect Your Documents

Your original documents:

  • Your ORIGINAL birth certificate
  • Your ORIGINAL marriage certificate (if applicable) OR other change of name document (if applicable)
  • (3) ORIGINAL documents showing proof of address (bank statements or utility bills)
  • COPY of your passport/ID (must be witnessed)
  • (4) Passport photos (2 must be witnessed)

Your parents original documents (the one related to your Irish grandparent):

  • ORIGINAL birth certificate of your parent
  • ORIGINAL marriage certificate of your parent (if applicable) OR other change of name document (if applicable)
  • COPY of passport/ID of your parent (must be witnessed)

Your grandparents original documents (if both of your grandparents were born in Ireland, you will need to collect both of their documents)

  • ORIGINAL birth certificate of your grandparent(s)
  • ORIGINAL marriage certificate of your grandparent(s) (if applicable)
  • ORIGINAL divorce certificate of your grandparent(s) (if applicable)
  • ORIGINAL death certificate (if applicable)
  • COPY of passport/ID of your grandparent, if living (must be witnessed)

Collecting all of these original documents was the most difficult and time-consuming part of the process. We had difficulty determining if we needed certain documents for my grandparents since they were both deceased.

We ended up having to order official documents from Ireland and since we needed them mailed to Alaska, we would wait four weeks at a time to receive the documents.

Double-check that your documents are the originals (long-form) and don’t have missing information, especially on the birth certificates (such as middle names, if applicable).

Also, make sure to have ALL of the documents above. If your grandparents are already deceased, you will still need their marriage and divorce certificates (if applicable). It’s better to have them and send them all at the same time.

If you’re not sure where to get your passport photos, I usually go to Costco to get mine. If you plan on getting your Irish passport immediately after receiving your Foreign Birth Registration, then you should get at least six passport photos. You will need four for your passport application.

Step 2: Fill Out Your Application

After you collect all of the above documents, you will need to fill out your online application through the Irish Embassy.

It’s important that you wait to have all of your documents before you fill out the online application because you will need the information of your parent and Irish born grandparent that can be found of the documents.

You will submit the application online to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. You must also print the application, sign it, and send it in with all of your other documents. Make sure to save the PDF version of your application in case you need to reference it later on.

Step 3: Make Your Online Payment

When you are filling out your online application, you will also be asked to make an online payment to obtain your Irish citizenship.

If you are over 18 years old, you will need to pay of fee of €278, this includes payment for the registration, certificate, and a non-refundable postage and handling fee.

Step 4: Witness Your Documents

In order to complete your application process, you will need to find someone to witness your documents. They will need to witness part of your application, (2) of your passport photos, and witness you sign the application. They can either stamp and sign the documents, or provide a business card if they don’t have a stamp.

Who Can Witness The Application Form and Photographs?

Here are some examples of who can witness your documents:

  • Member of the Clergy
  • Medical Doctor
  • School Principal
  • Bank Manager
  • Solicitor/Lawyer
  • Notary Public
  • Police Officer

In my case, we didn’t personally know anyone that could witness our documents and all of the local banks said that they couldn’t witness personal identification documents.

So, we ended up using the notary services at The UPS Store in Alaska. It should cost you less than $10 USD to notarize all of your documents. The notary should stamp, sign and date your documents. You can find a UPS Store near you here.

Sometimes you may need to explain that the notary is not confirming your identity, they are just confirming that you are the person in front of them that matches the ID presented. It’s confusing, but this is how the consulate explained it to us.

Step 4: Mail Your Documents To Ireland

After you collect all of your documents, witness necessary documents, fill out your application and make the online payment, you can mail in all of your documents.

You will send your documents addressed to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Dublin:

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Iveagh House
80 St Stephen’s Green
Dublin, Ireland 2D02 VY53

If you don’t want to experience the anxiety I did when I sent all of these precious documents untracked through the USPS and not through certified mail, then I highly suggest you pay to have these documents sent with a tracking number. You can mail them with FedEx. It’s worth it!

Can You Apply At The Same Time As Your Siblings?

If you are applying at the same time as your siblings and you need the same set of original documents, it’s okay to send them all together in the same envelope. Make sure to separate each of your applications and include a letter saying that some of the documents apply to both applications. 

How Long Does It Take To Get Your Irish Citizenship?

When I was in the middle of applying, there was high demand and it took 10 months to process a registration. They state it presently takes between 9 to 12 months to process a completed Foreign Birth Registration application.

When I applied for my Foreign Birth Registration, it took 6 months to receive my certificate in the mail. It took longer because we had to send different documents that we had to wait to receive from Ireland. I imagine the process to take 4 to 6 months.

Step 5: Apply For Your Irish Passport

Once your Irish citizenship application is approved, you’ll receive an official Irish Foreign Birth Registration (FBR) in the mail.

Congrats! You’re now an Irish citizen and you can apply for your Irish passport!

In order to apply for an Irish passport, you will need to get your FBR certificate first. If you live in the United States, you will need to contact your local Irish Embassy or Consulate to get an application form or have it mailed to you because you can’t download the form online.

You will have to fill out the passport application, collect similar documents, pay the fee, and mail everything to the nearest Irish consulate.

Can You Hold An Irish and American Passport?

Yes, you can hold an Irish passport and an American passport. When you leave or enter the United States, you are required to use your American passport. Having an Irish passport is my favorite thing about having dual citizenship!

Irish American Dual Citizenship Passports

American Irish Dual Citizenship Benefits

Besides just being totally awesome and feeling like the coolest person ever, there are a ton of benefits to having your Irish dual citizenship. A lot of it comes with have the option to use two passports.

Entering The EU and UK On An Irish Passport

Whenever I enter any countries that are a member of the European Union (EU) or the United Kingdom, I get to enter on an Irish passport. This means that I get to skip all of the long foreigner lines to get through customs.

I can also use the automated ePassport gates instead of having my passport checked by border control.

All I have to do is scan my Irish passport at the passport gate and an automated passport reader and camera verifies my identity and checks my passport.

The gates use facial recognition technology to compare your face to the photograph recorded from your passport. Once the check is made successfully, the gate opens automatically for you to walk through.

It’s amazing and I don’t think it’s ever takes me more than ten minutes!

Work and Live In The EU Or UK

Last summer, I lived and worked in Southern Portugal. I didn’t have to worry about going over the 90-day maximum stay for non-EU citizens.

Since the Republic of Ireland is a member of the European Union, anybody with citizenship in one country can live and work in other EU countries, without restrictions.

Also, since the relationship between Ireland and the UK is so good, the Brexit vote doesn’t affect Irish citizens. I can live and work anywhere in the UK.

Free Healthcare and Education

As someone who was born and raised in the United States, I couldn’t fathom the idea that healthcare and education could be free. But now, I’m experiencing it firsthand.

There are a lot of perks to being part of the European Union. I’m currently living in Wales, and I’ve applied to receive free healthcare through the NHS. The process was really easy and I can even get prescriptions at no cost.

I’ve also looked into school in countries around Europe. Having an EU passport means that I can pay the same amount as the local costs. Sometimes this means that it’s free! You can save thousands of dollars this way.

Traveling The World

I love traveling and I travel a lot. The main reason I had an interest in getting Irish citizenship was so that I could have an Irish passport. I knew that having the option to travel on two different passports would be advantageous.

Ireland’s passport is one of the most powerful in the world with visa-free access to 175 countries. This means that countries that would require applying and paying for a visa as an American, could be free to access as an Irish citizen.

In 2016, I paid $160 USD for a tourist visa for Bolivia. If I had my Irish passport at that time, it would have been free!

Other Benefits

If your children are born after your entry in the Foreign Births Register then they are eligible to apply for their foreign birth registration.

If you are looking into an Australian Working Holiday Visa, Canadian, Irish and French passport holders can apply up to age 35. For any other country, it is up to age 30.

Basically, if you are eligible for Irish citizenship, I highly recommend you take advantage of it.

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Christine Lynskey
7 months ago

Thanks for all the info – glad to read about someone who completed the process. Trying to get all the documents ready right now.

Joseph Collins
4 months ago

Enjoyed your article. Here’s my question: My father’s grandparents were born in Ireland. He is thinking about applying for his dual citizenship. If he were to do so and get it, can I apply?

Joseph Collins
4 months ago

Thank you for your response. I’m definitely encouraging him to do so.

3 months ago

Hi, im currently struggling to get three proof of address for myself. I’m only 20 years old, living at home, with no bills or anything. I can use a bank statement for my debit card as one but unsure on the others. any advice? thanks

Cindy Rogers
2 months ago

Thank so much for this information. I have all the documents I need to register once it opens up again (Covid :-() but I am struggling with the witness since the list states the witness must be practicing his or her profession and I know a few people who are retired but none practicing. My sister is a lawyer and she was a witness for a friend’s application and the Register called her to confirm and asked a few questions. I see you used a notary but am concerned that since I don’t know one personally it will be an… Read more »

Cindy Rogers
2 months ago

Thank you!

Mary Wilson
2 months ago

I just started this process – both of my grandparents were born in Ireland. I am curious about a couple of things: Two separate proofs of address (like a utility bill or bank statement) – does a witness have to sign these? When you have a notary sign/stamp documents, what exactly are they signing, just their signature or a statement as well? Also, do they stamp/sign the back of two of the four passport photos that must be sent? On birth/marriage/death certificates, they say “original” but technically the only ones I can get are true certified copies, they are embossed/sealed… Read more »

2 months ago

Thank you, yes, that helps greatly!!

2 months ago

Andrea, another quick question — I just realized, having had other things notarized, that the notary’s stamp is too large to fit on the back of the passport photos, and they don’t have a business card that designates them as a notary. The notary is at a UPS store and the only business card she has is for the UPS store and her name is not on it. So here’s a question, if the notary stamps and signs the other items (application, proof of ID), do you think it would be sufficient if the same notary just signed the back… Read more »

Pat Pownall
1 month ago

Hi, My decease Mom was born in Ireland and my siblings and my srlf would like to apply for Duel citizenship. What is the po process?