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Citizenship by Descent in Ireland

Citizenship by Descent in Ireland


If you are related to an Irish citizen, then you may be entitled to apply for citizenship by descent in Ireland. In order to have this right, you will still have to comply with certain requirements – first of all, you will need to prove that either parent had Irish citizenship at the moment of your birth or to prove that you have Irish grandparents.

If you have other types of relatives in Ireland – such as uncles, aunts and others, you will not be able to obtain Irish citizenship.

If you need information on how to obtain Irish citizenship, you can verify the regulations prescribed by the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Acts, or you can simply address our immigration lawyer in Ireland for in-depth legal advice and legal representation. Below, you can read a basic presentation regarding this subject. We can also assist if you want to apply for a residence permit in Ireland.

What is the law on citizenship by descent in Ireland in 2024?

One can apply for citizenship by descent in the case in which the person was born outside Ireland and has close family ties with Irish nationals, through his or her parents or grandparents. An important step that has to be concluded by this category of persons is to register with the Foreign Births Register, which falls under the supervision of the Department of Justice.

 Quick Facts 
 When can a person apply for citizenship by descent  A person can apply for citizenship by descent in Ireland if they have a parent or a grandparent /great-grandparent who is/was an Irish national.  

 Forms available for citizenship by descent  

 Form FB1A (for adult applicants), Form FB1B (for minor applicants ) 

 Application fee  

 EUR 278 (adult applicants), EUR 153 (minor applicants). 

 Categories of citizenship by descent  

 Citizenship by descent in Ireland can be obtained in the following cases:

– persons born in Ireland before 31 December 2004 – automatic citizenship;

– persons born in Ireland on 1 January 2005 and after – citizenship granted if one of the parents is an Irish citizen or an Irish permanent resident;

– persons born outside Ireland who are the children of persons born in Ireland before 31 December 2004;

– persons born outside Ireland who are the children of persons born outside Ireland entitled to Irish citizenship, and the grandchildren of persons born in Ireland before 31 December 2004;

– persons born outside Ireland, who are great-grandchildren of persons born in Ireland before 31 December 2004. 

 Institution in charge with the application process  

 Department of Justice  

 Documents required for the application 

There are many documents to prepare and they vary based on the family tie on which the person will apply for citizenship.

In general, documents attesting the nationality of the Irish relative are necessary, such as marriage certificates, the birth certificate/death certificate of the Irish national, application forms, etc.  

 Dual citizenship allowed (yes/no) 

 Yes 

 Law regulating citizenship by descent in Ireland  

 The Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 

 How can an application be submitted  

– by contacting an Irish embassy or consulate;

– through the Foreign Birth Register;

– by addressing the Citizenship Division, working under the Department of Justice.   

 Certification/authentication required (yes/no)  Yes 
 Documents to be issued after citizenship is granted 

Citizenship certificate, passport book, passport card.   

 Costs of Irish identity documents  

 EUR 35 – passport card, EUR 100 (passport book and passport card for adults), EUR 45 (passport book and passport card for minors).

A passport card is a document similar to an identity document and it is issued to persons who have a passport book (the standard passport document).  

 Validity of Irish identity documents  

 10 years for passport books and 5 years for passport cards (for adults).

5 years for passport books and passport cards (for minors).  

 Passport accelerated issuance procedure (yes/no)  

 Yes (but only for passport renewals). 

 Law governing the issuance of Irish identity documents   Passports Act 2008 

The main regulations regarding the right to citizenship by descent in Ireland are prescribed under the Section 16 of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1958, which can be detailed by our immigration lawyer. Please mind that if you were born outside Ireland or in Ireland from at least one parent who had Irish nationality at the moment of your birth, you will be entitled to receive citizenship by descent.

As a general rule, children born on the Irish territory used to be entitled to automatically receive Irish nationality due to the place of birth. But the legislation on immigration to Ireland was modified in 2005, and the main amendment was that not all children will be entitled to receive Irish nationality simply because they were born here.

Instead, the right to citizenship for children born on the Irish territory is decided based on the residence of the parent (or parents) and their nationality. Thus, all children who have a parent with Irish citizenship will have the right to claim the Irish nationality.

This right is also extended for those who have Irish grandparents; this is applicable to all persons who can prove that their grandparents were Irish citizens or citizens of Northern Ireland.

Although Northern Ireland represents a separate, sovereign country, it is included here due to the fact that both Ireland and Northern Ireland have common ancestry. As such, for nationality matters, persons related to Northern Ireland citizens can claim the Irish nationality when moving to Ireland.

In the case of a child who did not have the right to obtain Irish citizenship when they were born on the Irish territory after 2005, the application must be done separately following the rules of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act.

This is done by completing and submitting Form 11. If you applied in 2023, the fee was of EUR 200. In 2024, applicants are required to pay a fee of EUR 270 (it includes the registration for citizenship and the issuance of the citizenship certificate). To this, you must also calculate a cost of EUR 8 for the postage fee, reaching a total of EUR 278.

If you start the application in 2024 and the child has an age above 16 years old at the moment when the application is made, the application will be vetted by the National Vetting Bureau.

In the application, it is necessary to show evidence on the reckonable residency in Ireland. Thus, if the application is made in 2024, 8 years of residency must be proven before this year, while the 4 years before the application have to be of full residency in Ireland. One can also obtain citizenship through the Irish investor visa.

How to register with the Irish Foreign Births Register


As mentioned above, persons who were born outside Ireland are entitled to Irish citizenship as long as they have a parent or a grandparent who was an Irish national at the moment when the applicant was born. Citizenship can be acquired by registering with the Foreign Births Register, on account of Ireland citizenship through ancestry.

However, for foreigners born abroad who are related to Irish nationals, 2 situations appear. The 1st one is where the foreigners are automatically granted Irish citizenship without completing any legal formalities, and the 2nd one is where the foreigners have to register for Ireland citizenship through heritage with the Foreign Births Register.

The law on immigration in Ireland states that a person does not have to register in this system if the person had at least 1 parent, who, at the moment when the birth of the applicant took place, was an Irish citizen who was born on the island of Ireland. In this case, citizenship is automatically granted.

However, for other situations, registration is necessary for those who want to acquire citizenship. As such, the registration with the Foreign Birth Register is necessary for the following situations:

  1. the applicant had at least 1 grandparent who was born in Ireland;
  2. the applicant had at least 1 parent who had Irish citizenship, but who was not born in Ireland.

When registering with this system, the person will receive Ireland citizenship by descent and afterwards, he or she can apply for an Irish passport. Here, 2 situations can appear – for minor applicants and for adults.

The Department of Home Affairs, the institution which handles citizenship through the Foreign Birth Register, will ask for a wide range of documents, that can vary based on the situation for which the person registers for Irish citizenship by ancestry.

Persons who are underage (under 18 years old) can also register for citizenship by descent through the Foreign Birth Register. They are also required to pay a processing fee, but at a reduced value compared to adult applicants. In 2024, the registration for citizenship and the issuance of the citizenship certificate for minor applicants costs EUR 145. These applicants must pay a postal fee as well, charged at the same rate of EUR 8.

Of course, the documents are necessary so that the applicant can prove the right to Irish citizenship by ancestry. The documentation will vary based on the following situations:

  1. citizenship by descent in Ireland documentation is prepared on the grounds of having a grandparent born in Ireland;
  2. documentation attesting the applicant has a parent who became an Irish citizen through naturalization;
  3. documentation which shows the parent obtained Irish citizenship by registering with the Foreign Birth Register;
  4. documentation attesting the parent’s Irish citizenship through Post Nuptial Citizenship Declaration;
  5. documents attesting the parent’s citizenship through adoption by an Irish citizen.

What is the law on Ireland citizenship by birth?


Ireland citizenship by birth can’t be obtained just by being born in Ireland, as of 2005. This modification of the law was voted by the Irish population to modify the Irish constitution with regards to ways of acquiring citizenship.

As such, as of 2005, children can only acquire citizenship by birth only through the regulations applicable for citizenship by descent in Ireland, thus differentiating between children who have at least 1 Irish parent and children born in this country who do not have any Irish parents.

Therefore, for a child born in Ireland citizenship is limited to being related to an Irish parent who was born in Ireland or who was born abroad and was entitled to Irish citizenship. This is currently regulated under the 27th Amendment to the Irish Constitution.

The law states that starting with 1 January 2005 any child born here who is not related to an Irish parent (regardless of the way the parent acquired citizenship), can’t qualify for citizenship (27th Amendment, Part 1). Part II stipulates that for those born in Ireland citizenship will be maintained prior to the application of this amendment.

Therefore, all children who were born previous to this law from non-Irish parents and who were granted citizenship just by being born in this country, can retain the right to citizenship regardless of the stipulations of the new law. Thus, their citizenship can’t be revoked on the grounds that they do not have citizenship by descent in Ireland. Below, you can watch a short video on how to obtain Irish citizenship by descent:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t6aSOrZ7WLE

What is the data on persons with Irish citizenship?

Persons with Irish citizenship can be met across the world; outside those who are currently citizens of the country, living in Ireland, a vast majority of persons with Irish ancestry lives in the United States of America and this category of persons can easily claim citizenship by descent in Ireland. Below, you can find out few highlights on persons with Irish nationality:

  • in the 2016 census, it was revealed that the Irish population increased at 3,977,729 persons – the latest census, of 2022, showed that the population increased to more than 5 million;
  • it was the first time in 171 years of recorded data on the population when the Irish nationals accounted for more than 5 million (5,149,139 persons);
  • persons with dual citizenship in Ireland accounted for 104,784 in the 2016 census, while the one in 2022 revealed an increase of dual citizenship nationals, of 170,597;
  • the average age of the population in 2022 was 38,8 years old, compared to 37.4 in 2016;
  • the 2022 census included 8 new questions regarding volunteering, childcare, renewable energy, work from home, internet usage and others.

According to the law on immigration in Ireland, you can apply for citizenship by descent in the case in which you are the child of a person who was born in Ireland prior to 31st December 2004 and you were born outside Ireland. Then, you will definitely be entitled to receive citizenship; please address our immigration lawyer in Ireland for more information.

Please know that the procedure for citizenship by descent in 2024 can take around 9 months and that the applications will be processed in the order in which they were received.

Persons who are not related to Irish nationals can still become citizens through other procedures. For instance, they can do so if they obtain permanent residence in Ireland. Permanent residence can be obtained by those who work in this country in most situations, but also based on family reunification visas and other legal grounds regulated by the immigration law.

In the case of those who will apply for citizenship in Ireland based on their residency, the rules for citizenship by naturalization will apply. Applicants will be required to pay a processing fee that is nonrefundable. Please mind that the application can be refused due to various reasons and if so, the applicant has the right to appeal the decision or to re-apply for citizenship.

Can I claim Irish ancestry visa by great grandparent?


There are certain situations when a person can claim Irish heritage visa by great grandparent, but in most cases, the law on immigration in Ireland and citizenship doesn’t provide a direct route through this family tie.

Irish ancestry visa by great grandparent can be obtained if the parent of the applicant has applied for Irish citizenship through his/her grandparent prior to the date of 1st July 1986.

Provided that the parent of the applicant has not applied for citizenship prior to this date, unfortunately, the law does not provide any other possibility to apply for Irish origin visa by great grandparent.

It must also be noted that those who may be able to apply for this citizenship route must provide all the tracing documents, which can sometimes be a difficult task, considering the time that has passed between the generations.

In general, the legislation grants the right to apply for Ireland citizenship through origin when the applicant has a parent or grandparent who is/was an Irish national, as for previous generations it is more difficult to prove the family tie and to find the necessary documentation.

Also, another reason as to why this can be a challenging task is that the law on immigration in Ireland has been modified many times throughout the decades, changing the ways to acquire citizenship and the citizenship rights granted to Irish descendants.

But, considering that there are certain exemptions from this standard law, we advise you to address our immigration lawyer for more details on how to acquire Ireland citizenship through ancestry when the Irish connection goes down to a great grandparent.

When can one claim Irish ancestry visa by great grandparent?


One of the legal pathways to apply for Irish heritage visa by great grandparent is if your great grandparent was born in Ireland and his or her descendants weren’t. This option is known as citizenship by association.

Citizenship by association refers to the connection between 2 persons, where the descendance can be established as a blood tie, adoption or affinity to a person who was an Irish citizen. However, it must be noted that the right to obtain Irish origin visa by great grandparent can be granted only on a case-to-cases basis and it falls at the discretion of the Irish institutions.

Therefore, even if a person is, in theory, entitled to Irish ancestry visa by great grandparent on the account of having a great grandparent who was an Irish national, the application can be denied. This can happen if the Irish authorities are not satisfied with the minimum documentation that can prove the connection between the 2 persons.

The right to decide on who can obtain Ireland citizenship through heritage that goes back to a great grandparent is stipulated under Section 16 of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956. Please mind that in certain cases the applicant is required to obtain a residence permit in Ireland, as he or she can be imposed with a minimum residency of 2 to 3 years prior to applying for citizenship.

Please know that if the person doesn’t have the minimum residency requirement or doesn’t want to live in Ireland for the purpose of obtaining citizenship based on a connection with a great grandparent, then he or she will be refused from obtaining citizenship, as per the rules stated for reckonable residency in Ireland stipulated by the Section 16.

This type of citizenship represents an exceptional way to acquire Irish citizenship, therefore the procedure is more complex compared to any other ways regulated by the law. Therefore, the entire procedure can take more than 30 months, as it can involve many Irish institutions and, in some cases, in can involve the participation of other states.

There are more complex stipulations regarding citizenship based on your ancestry and the tie with Irish generations of persons, and this is why we invite you to contact our immigration lawyer in Ireland for a more detailed presentation regarding all legal scenarios that can lead to Ireland citizenship through origin.