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Irish Citizenship by Descent: The Extensive Guide

Updated: 4 May 2023

Ireland is a country steeped in rich cultural history and heritage. With its breathtaking landscapes, friendly people, and vibrant culture, it is no wonder that so many people wish to call it home. For those of Irish descent, obtaining Irish citizenship is a way to connect with their ancestral roots and embrace their Irish identity. 

Irish citizenship by descent is a process that allows individuals with Irish ancestry to claim their Irish citizenship and gain all the rights and privileges that come with it. From traveling freely across the EU to voting in Irish elections, becoming an Irish citizen can be a life-changing experience. This article delves into the intricacies of Irish citizenship by descent, exploring the eligibility criteria, application process, and benefits of becoming an Irish citizen through ancestry.

What It Means to Be an Irish Citizen

Irish citizenship comes with a range of benefits that extend beyond the borders of the Emerald Isle. As a member state of the European Union, being an Irish citizen grants you a set of rights that are available exclusively to EU nationals. These privileges are far-reaching and include the freedom to live and work in any EU country, including Ireland. Moreover, holding an Irish passport, which is ranked amongst the most powerful in the world, provides you with unparalleled access to global travel. Irish citizenship is a gateway to a world of opportunities and experiences, and its advantages extend beyond the shores of the Emerald Isle.

Advantages of Irish Citizenship 

Becoming an Irish citizen is a gateway to a world of possibilities, offering numerous benefits, extending far beyond the shores of the Emerald Isle. Holding an Irish passport is only one of the many privileges that come with Irish citizenship. Here are some of the benefits you can expect to enjoy as an Irish citizen:

  • Freedom to Reside Anywhere 

As an Irish citizen, you can live anywhere in the world. There are no requirements to live in Ireland in order to hold onto your citizenship, but you may need to obtain a visa or permit depending on the country you choose to reside in. As a citizen of the European Union, you can take advantage of zero-tax residency programs and have a wealth of options when choosing your country of residence.

  • Visa-Free Travel to Over 185 Countries 

Holding an Irish passport, you can travel visa-free to more than 185 countries. Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, having an Irish passport grants you unparalleled access to the world.

  • Ease of Movement within the EU

Since Ireland is a member of the European Union, Irish citizens have the right to move freely within the EU states, making travel throughout the continent incredibly easy. Furthermore, Irish citizens can work and reside in any EU country of their choice.

  • High-Ranking Passport

The Irish passport is currently considered one of the most powerful in the world. Most countries have a favorable view of Irish passport holders, and the low-risk status of the Irish passport makes travel hassle-free. With the added benefit of being an EU member state, the Irish passport is a very powerful document to hold.

Who’s Eligible for Irish Citizenship by Descent? 

Obtaining Irish citizenship through descent can open doors to a wealth of opportunities, and there are certain requirements that applicants must meet to become eligible.

To be eligible for Irish citizenship by descent, you must meet one of the following criteria:

  • Born in Ireland or Northern Ireland 

If you were born in Ireland or Northern Ireland before January 1st, 2005, and have at least one parent who is an Irish or British citizen at the time of your birth, you may be eligible for Irish citizenship by descent.

  • Irish Descent

You may also qualify for Irish citizenship by descent if you have at least one Irish grandparent or parent who’s an Irish citizen. This applies to individuals born outside of Ireland or Northern Ireland.

  • Residency Permits 

If one or both of your parents hold a residency permit in Ireland or Northern Ireland, you may also be eligible for Irish citizenship by descent.

Steps to Getting Ireland Citizenship by Descent

If you’re interested in obtaining Irish citizenship by descent, you need to follow a few steps to ensure a smooth and successful application process. Here’s a breakdown of the process:

  1. Register your birth: You must first register your birth in the Foreign Births Register and provide all relevant certificates and records pertaining to your birth.
  2. Submit your application: Complete the relevant application form for Irish citizenship by descent and submit it with all required documentation.
  3. Receive your approval certificate: Once your application is approved, you’ll receive a certificate confirming your registration in the Irish Register of Foreign Births, which signifies your approval for Irish citizenship.

After you’ve been officially registered in the Irish Register of Foreign Births, you’ll be recognized as an Irish citizen. The final step is to obtain your Irish passport, which will grant you access to all the benefits and privileges of Irish citizenship.

How to Obtain an Irish Passport

Getting an Irish passport is a crucial part of enjoying the benefits of Irish citizenship. However, it’s important to note that you’ll need to follow a set of requirements and submit relevant documents to obtain your passport. These documents include your valid passport or travel document, your original birth certificate, documents proving your identity and address, digital passport photos, and documentation proving that at least one of your parents or grandparents was an Irish citizen. Additionally, you’ll have to pay the relevant fees. Once you’ve gathered and submitted all the necessary documents, you’ll be on your way to obtaining your Irish passport, which will allow you to enjoy all the benefits that come with it.

Waiting Time and Fees for the Irish Passport

The fees you’re required to pay to acquire an Irish passport are as follows:

  • Standard 10-year passport: €75
  • 66-page 10-year passport: €105
  • Passport Card: €35
  • Standard passport + Passport Card: €100
  • 66-page passport + Passport Card: €130
  • 5-year standard passport for those under 18: €20
  • 5-year 66-page passport for those under 18: €50
  • Standard 5-year passport + Passport Card for the under-18: €45
  • 5-year 66-page passport + Passport Card for the under-18: €75

It’s important to note that the fees above do not include additional postal fees, which amount to €5 for those inside Ireland, and €15 for those outside of Ireland. When applying for an Irish passport online for the first time, the typical waiting time is around 20 business days, although this may vary depending on demand. After completing a successful submission, you can track the application process online.

Alternative Routes for Obtaining Irish Citizenship

There are several alternative routes to acquiring Irish citizenship apart from proving Irish ancestry. Here are the available options:

  1. Citizenship by Naturalization: This method of acquiring Irish citizenship is lengthier than the others. Eligible applicants must have resided in Ireland for at least five years within the nine years preceding their application.
  2. Citizenship Through Marriage: You can apply for Irish citizenship after being in a civil relationship or marriage with an Irish partner and living in Ireland for three years. Same-sex marriages are recognized by the Irish government, so sexual orientation is not an obstacle.
  3. Citizenship by Investment: Investing in Ireland through the Irish Golden Visa Program is another option for obtaining Irish citizenship. A minimum investment of €1 million is required to apply for residency. After completing five years of residency, you may apply for Irish citizenship.

Irish Citizenship by Descent: The Bottom Line

Obtaining Irish citizenship by descent is typically a straightforward process for those who have the necessary documentation and follow the appropriate steps. Registering in the Foreign Births Register and submitting the required documents for citizenship and passport applications are crucial steps to take. It’s crucial to note that the waiting times for passport applications can vary, and additional postal fees may apply.

However, citizenship by descent is not the only way to become an Irish citizen. The routes of citizenship through naturalization, marriage, and investment are also available to eligible applicants.

Becoming an Irish citizen grants you a multitude of benefits, including the right to vote, work, and travel freely within the European Union. It’s a worthwhile investment, not only for those with Irish ancestry but also for individuals seeking to broaden their opportunities and experiences. Hence, if you’re eligible and interested in obtaining Irish citizenship, go ahead and start your process: don’t let the waiting times discourage you from taking advantage of this incredible opportunity.

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