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Mcgrath Mullan Solicitors Dublin

Irish Citizenship by Descent

Ireland, known for its rich history, picturesque landscapes, and warm hospitality, has become an attractive destination for many individuals seeking to connect with their Irish roots.

In some cases, a person’s Irish heritage may even mean they can become an Irish citizen. This is known as citizenship by descent and the application to become a citizen in this way is called a Foreign Birth Registration application.

This article considers the eligibility criteria for Irish citizenship by descent in more detail as well as the Foreign Birth Registration application process.

1. Eligibility for Irish Citizenship by Descent

In order to be eligible for Irish citizenship by descent a person must either have a grandparent who was born on the island of Ireland (including Northern Ireland), or a parent who, although not themselves born in Ireland, was an Irish citizen at the time their child was born. If so, the individual will be entitled to apply for Irish citizenship by making a Foreign Birth Registration application.

Unlike applications for citizenship through naturalization, which requires a person to have lived in Ireland for a certain period of time, Foreign Birth Registration applications do not have any Irish residency requirement and are based solely on the person’s Irish genealogy.

If an individual has an Irish great-grandparent or a grandparent who was an Irish citizen but not born in Ireland they will unfortunately not be eligible for Irish citizenship by descent. Similarly, if a person’s parent was born outside of Ireland and became an Irish citizen after their child was born, the child will have no entitlement to Irish citizenship by descent.

In this case it may be possible to instead make an application for Irish citizenship based on Irish associations – however, it is important to be aware that there will be an Irish residency requirement for an Irish associations application.

In most cases, in addition to having Irish relatives or ancestry, a person will need to have lived in Ireland for at least 3 years and be able to show substantial and tangible connections with Irish society for their Irish associations application to be successful.

2. Foreign Birth Registration Application

To claim their Irish citizenship, an individual must apply to be entered onto the Foreign Births Register maintained by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Ireland.

As part of this Foreign Birth Registration application, the individual must prove that: • They have a grandparent who was born on the island or Ireland OR a parent who was an Irish citizen at the time of their child’s birth, even if they themselves were not born in Ireland; and • They are related to this grandparent or parent.

This is done by providing genealogical certificates showing the link between the individual and their Irish ancestor, such as original birth, death and marriage certificates. If the application is successful, the individual will be entered onto the Register of Foreign Births and issued with a Foreign Birth Registration Certificate.

This Foreign Birth Registration Certificate has the same legal effect as an Irish birth certificate, and from this point on the individual will be an Irish citizen.

If you would like to discuss your eligibility for Irish citizenship by descent or would like our assistance with making your application please do not hesitate to contact us at and we would be happy to assist you.

Author Bio

Naoise Duffy

Naoise Duffy, Solicitor, can assist you in Immigration law, Judicial Review and Surrogacy law. Contact Naoise if you would like assistance with any of these matters. or +353 (0) 1 873 5012

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