Skip to content
Home » Resources » An Extensive Guide to Irish Citizenship by Descent

An Extensive Guide to Irish Citizenship by Descent

An Extensive Guide to Irish Citizenship by Descent

Ireland is a favourite country to many, and it’s for good reasons. For people who have traveled there, there would attest to the fact that people there are the easiest to talk to, not to mention the friendliest in the world. Now, just imagine being a citizen of this amazing country, especially if you have an Irish ancestor. Yes, it is possible! In fact, there are avenues that have been created to facilitate that. By becoming a citizen, you stand to benefit from one of the lowest corporate taxes in Europe, relishing breathtaking landscapes and indulging in its delectable cuisine. You also get the opportunity to pay homage to your roots by acquiring official Irish citizenship through familial lineage.  

Ireland presents itself as one of the most accessible destinations globally for obtaining dual citizenship, particularly if you are fortunate enough to possess an Irish parent, grandparent, or even a great-grandparent. This avenue stands as the most straightforward means of obtaining Irish citizenship. Now, if you are seeking Irish citizenship, it’s worth noting that you are in good company, given that Ireland, with a population of just 5 million, boasts a remarkable tally of approximately 16 million Irish passports in circulation. The nation follows a liberal approach in bestowing citizenship upon individuals whose family lineage traces back to Ireland. We will tell you all about this in this guide!

What do you stand to gain by becoming a citizen?

With Irish citizenship, you stand to gain a number of benefits, which includes the following:

  • Ease of movement within the EU – Obtaining Irish citizenship is a gateway not only to the charms of Ireland but also to the broader prospects of being an EU citizen. As an Irish citizen, you seamlessly become part of the European Union’s (EU) 27 nations, enjoying the priceless benefit of free movement within its expansive borders. This encompasses the Schengen Agreement, enabling effortless travel and eliminating internal border controls across most member states. Irish citizenship empowers you to live, work, and explore any corner of the EU. Also, beyond personal aspirations, this status also grants access to social services, legal safeguards, and the vibrant tapestry of European cultures. Being Irish and EU citizens offers a profound sense of belonging to a diverse yet interconnected community, fostering unity in a globalized world.
  • Freedom to live anywhere – an Irish passport provides the unique benefit of global mobility without mandatory residence in Ireland. This freedom allows holders to live anywhere worldwide or adopt a nomadic lifestyle with minimal tax implications. As Ireland is an EU member state, passport holders can capitalize on Europe’s favourable tax residency initiatives, potentially paying lower or no taxes on their income. This is particularly advantageous for those seeking tax-efficient living arrangements or exploring business opportunities across borders. Additionally, Irish passport holders enjoy access to social benefits and services within the EU, including healthcare and education. The positive diplomatic standing of Ireland also enhances business prospects and ease of conducting international affairs.
  • Visa-free access to 171 countries – Undoubtedly, the Irish passport holds a prominent position, being recognized as the fourth most potent passport globally. With visa-free entry to 171 countries, including challenging destinations like the United States and Canada, it also provides the freedom to move seamlessly across Europe.
  • The Irish passport is a high-ranking passport – last but not least, the Irish passport is one of the highest-ranking passports in the world, not to mention an extremely low-risk one. First of all, the country’s geographic location as an island nation reduces the geopolitical risks that other EU countries face. Then, the country has the backing of other EU nations, not to mention that the people here are the friendliest.

Eligibility criteria

Individuals seeking Irish citizenship by descent typically need to fulfill certain criteria to be eligible for this type of citizenship. The primary requirements for Irish citizenship by descent include:

  • Irish parent and grandparent – You qualify as an Irish citizen if either you or your parent was born on the island of Ireland prior to 2005, a status often referred to as citizenship by birth. This entitles you to an Irish passport without the need for a separate citizenship application. If your Irish parent was born outside of Ireland, you must utilize the Foreign Births Registration system to complete your registration for Irish citizenship. In cases where neither of your parents was born in Ireland but one of your grandparents was, you still have the option to become an Irish citizen. This requires having your birth officially recorded in the Foreign Births Register. Lastly, in situations where one of your great-grandparents was born in Ireland, even if all their descendants were born outside of Ireland, you can apply for Naturalization after residing there for three years. This pathway allows you to petition for Irish citizenship.
  • Birth Registration – If you were born outside of Ireland, your birth must be registered in the Foreign Births Register maintained by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Ireland. The registration establishes your connection to Irish descent.
  • Proof of Relationship – You will need to provide appropriate documentation to prove your familial relationship to the Irish citizen parent or grandparent, such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, or other legal documents.
  • Application Process – you must apply for Irish citizenship through the appropriate channels, typically the Irish embassy or consulate in your country of residence. The application process will include submitting required documents, completing application forms, and paying any applicable fees.
  • Character and Legal Requirements – You may be required to meet character and legal requirements, which can include providing police clearance certificates or other relevant background checks.

How to apply for Irish citizenship by descent

If you think you’re eligible for Irish citizenship and are curious about obtaining it through descent, here’s a helpful starting guide. However, be prepared for a significant amount of bureaucratic paperwork. The process can be intricate, but we’ve aimed to break it down into basic steps.

  • Foreign birth register – The initial step requires you to formally register your birth in the Foreign Births Register. This register is maintained by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Ireland. To do it, you will need to provide accurate and comprehensive information about your birth, including relevant certificates and records, which establishes your connection to Irish descent and serves as the foundation for your application.
  • Submit Your Application – once your birth is registered, you proceed to the application phase. Obtain the specific application form for Irish citizenship by descent, which you can get from the Irish embassy or consulate in your country of residence or official government websites. It’s crucial to accurately complete the form, ensuring that all required fields are filled out, and any supporting documentation is attached. The documentation may include birth certificates, marriage certificates, proof of lineage, and other relevant records.
  • Receive Your Approval Certificate – Upon successful application review and approval, you will be issued an approval certificate. This certificate confirms your registration in the Irish Register of Foreign Births. It signifies that you have met the eligibility criteria and requirements for Irish citizenship by descent. The certificate also holds substantial significance, as it officially recognizes your new status as an Irish citizen with ancestral ties.

Once you have been recognized as an Irish citizen, the final step would be to obtain your Irish passport, which will grant you access to the benefits of the newly acquired citizenship.

Obtaining your passport

When it comes to applying for an Irish passport, there are three ways through which you can proceed; online, by post, or in person.

  • Passport online service – if you are not in the country and have access to the internet, this would be the perfect process for you to follow, as it is quite straightforward. Just log in to the platform, fill in the form, deliver digital photographs, prove your identity, and after you are done, send your application.

With regards to digital photographs, there are three ways in which you can do it; one, Obtain a photograph from an authorized photo provider, who will supply you with a distinct code to include in your online application. Two, visit a photo provider to have your picture taken; you can request them to send it via email or save it onto a USB or another storage medium. Ensuring access to the photo during your online application is essential. And thirdly, capture a photo at your residence using a digital camera or smartphone. This should not be a “selfie,” and it’s important not to utilize the camera’s zoom feature. The photograph should encompass your upper body, from the waist upward.

After finishing your online application, you’ll need to print an Identity Verification Form. For applications within Ireland, the form requires a signature from a Garda Síochána member. For applications outside Ireland, the form can be endorsed by an individual from the professions mentioned on the Passport Online site or listed on the verification form itself. After finalizing the application, you’ll need to print an Application Cover Page detailing the required documents for submission to the Passport Service. Only original documents are accepted. The Passport Service advises using a trusted postal method for secure document transmission. If applying within Ireland, an application-generated postage label is provided.

  • Applying through post passport – The Post Passport service is offered by An Post. If you’re an Irish resident, you can access form APS 1 at Garda stations or post offices, as it’s not available for download. Four recent identical photographs of yourself are required, with two signed by the witnessing individual, who should also note the form number from Section 9. A member of the Garda Síochána must be the witness if applying within Ireland, and for those abroad, select UK Post Office branches in Northern Ireland provide Post Passport services. Additionally, Glasgow and Liverpool Post Offices in Great Britain offer this service. Overseas applicants can find suitable witness categories on the application form. Witnesses should provide a daytime contact number for potential verification by the Passport Service or relevant embassy/consulate.
  • In-person application is not recommended for first-time applicants. This method is only set aside for those who wish to renew their passports urgently and probably don’t have the time or the leeway to use another method.

Fees charged for the passports

When applying for an Irish passport, there are various costs you will have to meet. They include;

  • 75 euros for a standard 10-year passport
  • 105 euros for a 66-page 10-year passport
  • 35 euros for a passport card
  • 100 euros for a standard passport plus a passport card
  • 130 euros for a 66-page passport plus a passport card
  • 20 euros for a 5-year standard passport for applicants who are under the 18
  • 50 euros for a 5-year 66-page passport for applicants who are under 18
  • 45 euros for Standard 5-year passport + Passport Card for applicants under 18
  • 75 euros for a 5-year 66-page passport + Passport Card for applicants under 18

Please be aware that the listed fees do not include additional postage charges. These charges amount to €5 for individuals within Ireland and €15 for those who are abroad. When initiating an online application for an Irish passport for the first time, the usual processing time is approximately 20 business days, although this duration may fluctuate based on demand. After successful submission, you have the option to monitor the progress of your application online.

Alternative methods of becoming an Irish citizen

If you find it challenging to become a citizen through the descent route, you can always explore other options. They include the following;

  • Citizenship by Naturalization – this method involves becoming an Irish citizen through a process of Naturalization, which generally requires the following:
  • Residing in Ireland for at least five years within the nine years prior to your application.
  • Demonstrating good character and intentions to continue living in Ireland.
  • Meeting certain residency requirements and having a legal right to reside in the country.
  • Proving your proficiency in the English language and showing a commitment to the laws and values of Ireland.
  • Citizenship through marriage – if you are in a civil partnership or marriage with an Irish citizen and have lived in Ireland for at least three years, you may be eligible to apply for Irish citizenship. This route is also open to same-sex couples, as Ireland recognizes same-sex marriages.
  • Citizenship by Investment (Irish Golden Visa Program) – the Irish Golden Visa Program allows individuals and their families to obtain residency in Ireland by making a qualifying investment. The investment options typically include:
  • A minimum investment of €1 million in an approved investment fund.
  • A minimum investment of €2 million in a mixed portfolio of investments, including real estate.
  • A minimum investment of €1 million in an Irish enterprise.
  • Creating at least ten jobs in Ireland through business investment.

After maintaining residency for five years, individuals and their families may be eligible to apply for Irish citizenship. It’s important to note that the investment options, requirements, and regulations of the Irish Golden Visa Program may be subject to change.


With the tightening of immigration policies and the closure of Golden Visa programs across several European countries, the benefits of acquiring citizenship through descent have become more apparent than ever. This option not only comes with lower costs but also offers a viable path to citizenship. While Ireland’s program remains one of the most inclusive, individuals who aren’t of Irish descent need not be discouraged. Many countries provide the opportunity for citizenship through descent, and exploring this avenue might lead to surprising discoveries about one’s family heritage. Embracing this path could open the door to a new and fulfilling life abroad, enriched by newfound cultural connections and possibilities.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *