How to Claim Your Irish Citizenship (by descent)

How to Claim Your Irish Citizenship (by descent)

How to Claim Irish Citizenship

It was a dark and stormy night in Shanghai.  J and I were wandering the streets when the grey clouds rolled in and the rain started to pour.  We were looking for an escape to hide from the cold and, hopefully, get a drink.

And like a gift from God, the Irish pub appeared in the distance.

We walked into the warm and cozy Irish pub and immediately waltzed to the wooden counter where we saw that familiar harp of Guinness calling our names.  J and I grabbed our Guinness and clanked our glasses together in cheers.

Soon one Guinness turned into three, and before we knew it J and I somehow found ourselves in conversation with real Irishmen that happened to wander into the pub.

“You’re Irish!?” I grinned as the Guinness started to hit me hard. “Me too!”

“But are you really Irish?”

“Of course!” I cried defensively. “My grandmother was born in Galway!”

“So your grandmother was really born there?”


“Did you know,” he leaned in. “You can become an Irish citizen.  All you need to do is apply.”

“No way,” I gulped down more Guinness in disbelief. “You’re just pulling my leg.”

“Go look yourself,” he smiled. “In the meantime, let’s have another pint!”

Despite the hangover the next day, I still remembered the words of my fellow Irishman.  Curious, I asked the almighty Google if becoming an Irish citizen was actually possible.

And hot damn, it is.  If your parent, grandparent or even great grandparent was born in Ireland, you are eligible for Irish citizenship.

So I’m writing this for fellow Irish folk that are unaware of this great opportunity, or simply need help to fill out the form.

First thing’s First:  Are you Eligible?

If your parent was born in Ireland, then you’re automatically an Irish citizen.  Talk about easy.

If your grandparent was born in Ireland (like in my case) it’s a little trickier to get your citizenship, but let’s just say it’s far easier than doing your taxes.

When you delve into great grandparent lineage, things start to get hazy.  While it is not impossible to claim citizenship from a great grandparent that was born in Ireland, let’s just say it’s harder to find the necessary paperwork to prove that, well, your ancestor was born there.

You can look at official Irish citizenship by descent homepage to see if you qualify to become an Irish citizen.

Even if you’re not Irish, don’t despair–you may still have a chance at claiming European citizenship!  I have heard tales of various travelers and friend claiming Italian, Spanish and Portuguese citizenship successfully.  Keep in mind, however, each process varies by nation, so what works for Ireland may not work for the others.

Keep in Mind…

Irish Citizenship Flag

America allows dual citizenship with Ireland–you will not have to give up your American citizenship to become Irish.  You will also not have to pay any additional taxes if you become Irish unless you work there and start to make income in Ireland.

(FYI, America is the only country that taxes its citizens even if they aren’t living or working in the U.S…. talk about the shaft!).

How to Apply

Believe it or not, applying for Irish citizenship is ridiculously easy.  In fact, it was one of the most pleasant experiences I’ve had with government in any country ever.

So first thing’s first:

  1. Get Your Documents in Order

I emailed the consulate of Ireland in Los Angeles inquiring about Irish citizenship, expecting a reply in ten months or maybe none at all.

Imagine my surprise when the next day a Mr. Finbar (yes, that’s his real name) emailed me with directions on how to claim my citizenship.  It’s all nicely detailed on the Embassy’s website.

The hardest part about applying is getting all of the paperwork to prove that your grandparent was, indeed, born in Ireland.  You’ll need…

  • ORIGINAL Birth Certificate of your Grandparent
  • ORIGINAL Marriage Certificate of your Grandparent
  • ORIGINAL Death Certificate of your grandparent (if applicable)
  • ORIGINAL Divorce Certificate (if applicable)

And then…

  • ORIGINAL Birth Certificate of your Irish parent
  • ORIGINAL Marriage Certificate of your Irish parent
  • ORIGINAL Death Certificate of your Irish parent (if applicable)
  • ORIGINAL Divorce Certificate of your Irish parent (if applicable)
  • COPY of their passport or other ID (I used my dad’s drivers license) ** Must be notarized at bank

And of course…

  • COPY of your passport/ID **Must be notarized at bank
  • Your ORIGINAL birth certificate
  • Your ORIGINAL marriage certificate
  • Your ORIGINAL divorce papers
  • Three ORIGINAL Bills Showing Proof of Residence (I used bank, car, and car insurance payment)
  • 2 Passport sized photos (this NEEDS to be signed by your witness)

The thought of mailing in so many original documents is frightening, right?


I know, it’s a lot of work.  I mean, seriously, who still has the original birth certificate of their grandparent born in Ireland?

Surprisingly, my aunt told me she had my grandmother’s birth certificate and mailed it to me upon request.  The certificate was so old I thought the paper would disintegrate if I unfolded it.  In addition, I had the church certificate of my grandparent’s marriage in Boston, as well as my grandmother’s death certificate.  It was very eerie to have my grandmother’s whole life in my hands.

For those that aren’t as lucky (and actually I wasn’t, the birth certificate turned out to be a baptismal certificate), you can request an Irish birth certificate and marriage certificate online with ease.

Get your grandparent’s Irish birth certificate here for the affordable price of 20 Euros.

Get your parent’s marriage certificate from any church in the United States here for the not-so-affordable price of $120 USD.

2. Fill out the Application

After you get all your paperwork in order (and only after), fill out the application online.  It’s a pretty easy one.

Once you’re finished, your application will be submitted to the Irish government immediately.  In the meantime, they’ll give you a PDF version that you must print out and sign.  You’ll also have to..

3. Have a Witness Handy When You Sign Your Paperwork

So basically, you’ll need a legal witness to 1. Fill out Section E of the application 2. Sign your passport photos 3. Witness you sign the application and 4. Provide a business work address.

The only people qualified to be a witness to your application are:

  • Member of the clergy
  • Medical Doctor
  • School Principal
  • Bank Manager
  • Solicitor/Lawyer
  • Police Officer
  • Magistrate/Judge

Since I already had to go to the bank to notarize the copy of my passport and my father’s driver’s license, I had my local “bank manager” be my witness and do all of the dirty work above.  Bank workers are actually quite accustomed to notarizing and signing documents such as this, so it shouldn’t be a problem getting this done.  Whether you’re buddy buddy with your teller or not, I think this is a duty the bank has to perform for you regardless.

4. Mail it in and Pay Up

The application fee will be automatically deducted from your credit or debit card only after the application has processed.  The total application fee is 270 euros.

After gathering all of the documents above and finishing up your application, you’ll have to put your trust into the postal system and mail out extremely personal and confidential documents that make up your entire life.

Oh, and you’re not mailing it to the embassy in the USA.  Oh no.  You’re mailing it straight to Ireland (address included in application).

I used hella expensive shipping to get my documents across the Atlantic, which cost me a good $40-50 bucks.  Expensive, but still, better safe than sorry.

5.  Wait (but not that long)

I mailed all of my documents in January 2015 and expected not to hear anything for six months minimum.  I heard various stories online, but it seemed like six months was the norm for most applicants.

Imagine my surprise when in March I received an email from a Tom Flannery in Ireland, personally addressing me about my citizenship application.  He informed me that some of my documents were off (like the baptismal certificate) and gave me very easy and precise instructions for fixing the problem and getting my application approved ASAP.

I was truly blown away by the service of Tom.  Good ‘ol Tom would respond to my emails mere hours after I sent it.  I don’t know whether the Irish government is super organized or bored to tears, but either way it was a very nice change of pace.  When it comes to contacting the American government, I would probably have more luck sending a bottled message out to sea than trying to reach them by phone or email.

So being able to talk to Tom and ask him in-depth questions about my application made me feel very safe and confident about my application.  I was truly astonished at how efficient, polite and kind the Irish government was in handling my citizenship.

And then one day in early May, I received a package from Ireland with all of my documents and a shiny new Irish birth certificate.  Woo-hoo!  So easy!

So…Why Did You Get Irish Citizenship?

Irish Citizenship Castle

When I told fellow Americans that I became Irish, instead of congratulate me with a pint of Guinness they merely cocked their head and asked with alarm:

…. Why would you do that?

Why not, I say.  Sure, it was kind of expensive (with all of the document request fees included, the total cost added up to about 500 bucks), but I still think it was totally worth it.

Mainly because Ireland is a part of the EU; which means I can live anywhere in Europe, essentially.

I don’t know if I’ll ever move to the EU.  I don’t know if I’ll ever move to Ireland.  It’s hard to say–but it’s nice to have the option, no?

And dammit, I’m proud to be Irish.  My grandmother was so Irish, she kept her Irish accent all the way to her deathbed.  She used to shoot whiskey every morning, go to church everyday like the good Irish catholic she was, and made a mean corned beef and cabbage every St. Patty’s Day and Easter.  I have nothing but fond memories of my Irish grandmother and my jolly Irish father.

And on a random note…

Did you know that Irish is an actual language?

As I went to all these crazy Irish government websites, I saw that they had not only an English option–but an Irish option.  Imagine my surprise when I found that all Irish documents are written in English AND Irish– a strange, pig-latin like text that sounds like gibberish.

After much research, I realized that Irish was not Gaelic.  In fact, Gaelic is a language that is more closely connected to Scotland than Ireland.  While Irish and Gaelic are extremely similar, they do have their differences (almost like varying dialects).

Although the Irish mainly use English to communicate, I’m really impressed at how the country is trying to push the Irish language back into their society.  For example, Irish is a mandatory class in school.  They have Irish-only channels on TV.

Just take a look at this–everyone knows Irish!

This article, although a bit old, is also extremely fascinating.  A journalist tries to travel through Ireland using ONLY the Irish language!

Anyway, I hope this page helps all the other Irish-wannabe hopefuls out there.  Please email me if you have any questions about claiming Irish citizenship!

138 thoughts on “How to Claim Your Irish Citizenship (by descent)

  1. Ha! I’m afraid I don’t qualify, but anyway I already have an European passport 😛
    It is very nice to read that they are very efficient, I can’t say the same for the Chinese and Spanish!

    I knew about Irish! It is so weird, right? The way it is written and the way it is pronounced are completely different!

    1. You can add America onto the list, it takes FOREVER for the American government to approve anything! I also heard horror stories from France and Belgium about their government processing, too…

      Irish is really bizarre! I think it’s funny because no one really uses irish, but they still speak it everyday and try to integrate it back into their society by making everything ‘bilingual.’ i love it.

      And it does sound funky.

  2. I’m so jealous you have an EU passport. I considered getting Korean citizenship just for fun, but it wasn’t really practical. Irish is so cool! My college offered courses, and I kept trying to take it but it just never worked out. I remember listening to a reading of the Canterbury Tales in Middle English, and the rhythm of it sounded like an Irish kind of lilt to me. It was neat.

    1. Can Koreans have dual citizenship? Usually Asian countries are super stingy when it comes to citizenship; Chinese and Japanese have to choose between one or the other.

      Wow your school offered Irish!?! That’s quite impressive! I would like to learn it someday, but it’s definitely not in my top five (not extremely useful). I hope to learn it when I retire in Ireland and need time to kill 😉 (hoping, anyway!)

      I hope you’re enjoying your trip!

  3. I am also really jealous of you! I’m too many generations removed for a chance at Irish citizenship, but I would certainly love to have a Eurozone passport.

    I thought that Irish was Gaelic? I’ve heard my Irish friends refer to it as such. I remember seeing many signs written in the language when I visited Ireland. I think all the street signs had to be written in both English and Irish/Gaelic.

      1. Well, the benefit would be being able to put it down on a college application. I think there’s also voting in tribal matters. I have a bunch of second cousins who are card-carriers.

        For my racist grandmother, though, it was actual CHECKS from the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

  4. My Irish side is too far back to qualify. I have heard about this a long time ago. Quite a few people I know have dual citizenship. Luckily for my husband’s country, Taiwan, also allows dual citizenship.

  5. Hi, loved your story. I have a question for you; I have all of the original documents I need except for my grandmother’s marriage certificate. NYC is unable to find it. But I do have the church document of their marriage. This seems to be your situation – did Ireland accept the church document instead of the official marriage certificate? Please tell me, “Yes.” : )

    1. Hello! Sorry for late reply.

      I’m afraid Ireland did not accept the church documents… they need the “legal” documents issued by the government.

      Did you try that link included in my blog post for requesting the marriage certificate? Perhaps you can call them and ask how you can possibly find a copy of the certificate? Ireland was able to find my grandmother’s birth certificate from 90 years ago so I’m sure there has to be a way.

      Good luck!

      1. Thanks. I have an open order from them for the cert from NYC. I hope they find it. I did it once before and they didn’t find it, but this time I used an alternate spelling so I hope it goes trough. I have used VitalCheck before with success on other documents, too. : )

      2. I really enjoyed reading this! I was wondering if you could answer something for me. I am an African-American woman, with absolutely no relation/ancestry to Ireland. Can I still become an Irish citizen? I don’t live there, so it wouldn’t be through naturalization, but I love Ireland, and the culture, and have visited many many times. I’d also like to work there as a traveling nurse. What are my chances?

        1. I think becoming a citizen might be really hard, especially after Brexit. I have had some nursing friends from the US find nursing work in Ireland, so I think you’ll have a chance! It will be a big pay cut (because US nurses make much more than most other countries), but you’ll get to live in Ireland 😉

  6. Hi RubyMary. Very informative and helpful blog post! I have a question, perhaps you know the answer: If my grandfather is Irish but my father was born and raised outside Ireland with no Irish passport, will this process still work? Will his non-Irish documents be sufficient?

    1. The key question is: was your grandfather born in Ireland? If so, then you are eligible. You just need the materials to prove that your grandfather was born in Ireland. If your grandfather was born in Ireland, then your father is automatically an Irish citizen (or at least, he can claim it), and all you need to do is provide your grandfathers birth, marriage and death certificate if applicable. This is the most important. If your grandfather was born in Ireland then it doesn’t matter where your father/mother was born.

      Hope that helps!

      1. It does, thank you so much! I was worried my father would have to apply for his first (like in the comment below mine) and that that would require twice the time and money for the whole process, but it seems like that’s not necessary. Woop!

        1. i know it’s an old post, but Tom your dad doesn’t need to register. if he wishes all he has to do is apply for an Irish passport.
          I’m also Irish by descent and in the process of registering my birth.

  7. hi there, not sure if you know the answer to this as i have looked online and I am still confused.

    My Father’s grand father was born in Ireland and moved to the US, so legally my father can get his. So if he was approved are they going to allow me to apply for mine or no because my father didn’t register me with the foreign office?

    1. I think if your dad applies for citizenship and receives his papers then you are also legal to apply for citizenship. Your father doesn’t have to register you with the foreign affairs office (unless your father was born in Ireland, then you can skip this altogether). Basically, when your dad applies to be Irish he is going to get an “Irish birth certificate”. When he gets that, you use that birth certificate to apply for your citizenship. Since you’re applying for both you and your father I imagine that could take up to 2 years and 1,000 dollars (it cost me 500 bucks and 1 year to do mine alone), so just a warning there. However, it IS possible if you really want it.

      1. Also, since it’s your great grandfather, I would check and see if Ireland still has his birth certificate since that could be 1800s we’re talking here. I’m grateful that Ireland still had the birth certificate of my grandmother from the early 1900s.

      2. Sadly, I don’t believe this is correct. From the Irish Immigration and Naturalization Service:

        If you are of the third or subsequent generation born abroad to an Irish citizen (in other words, one of your parents is an Irish citizen but none of your parents or grandparents were born in Ireland), you may be entitled to become an Irish citizen by having your birth registered in the Foreign Births Register; this depends on whether your parent through whom you derive Irish citizenship had himself or herself become an Irish citizen by being registered in the Foreign Births Register before you were born. [emphasis original]

        Information found here.

        1. Thank you! I was wrong, and thank you for the clarification. This will help a lot of readers.

          And also, I don’t want anyone to take my words/advice as being the honest to god truth. I don’t work for the Irish government and I cannot guarantee readers with any fail-proof advice. If you have a question about citizenship, the best place to ask is your local Irish embassy or consulate.

    2. Your father can get Foreign Births Registry. But because you were born before your father becomes an Irish citizen, you cannot get it through the same means. You would have to marry an Irish girl, or otherwise get residency there and stay for several years, then apply for naturalization.

  8. Hi thanks for your reply, though I have another question as in re-reading the post I did not see this info on here. Ireland requires that a person be entered in the Foreign Birth Registry. You did this I take it?

  9. Hey RubyMary, your post has been very helpful to me. I’d like to and something here I learned so many it will be helpful to someone in the future. I learned that if a marriage certificate for the grandparent cannot be found by the govt, Ireland will accept a church marriage certificate or baptismal certificate from a church provided it is accompanied by a letter from the govt agency responsible for the official cert, stating that the cert cannot be located.

    I ordered my grandmother’s marriage cert from NYC, they sent me a letter certifying the certificate could not be found. I’ll include this letter in application with the church cert of the marriage.

  10. Hey i am just starting the application for this and would love a few pointers. Im a UK citizen and my grandfather was born in Ireland. So far i have found and requested.


    Birth certificate
    Marriage certificate to grandmother
    Death certificate


    Birth certificate
    Marriage certificate to Father
    Copy of passport


    Birth certificate
    copy of passport
    proof of residence.

    I think (hope) thats everything i will need my main worry is my mother was married once before and is now remarried. Do i need marriage certificates for all 3 marriages and the 2 Original Divorce Decree (final)? I imagine they will be more difficult to procure. Many thanks for any help your guide is really helpful 🙂

    1. Hi Mark,

      Again, this is a grey zone and I would contact your local Irish embassy for a clear cut answer (better safe than sorry!). I would say since your mother probably changed her last name with marriage, it would be safe to get divorce papers for all marriages. Sounds like a pain in the butt, but again, better safe than sorry.

      Hope that helps!

  11. Hi there, thanks so much for all this info! I’m a UK citizen embarking on this process. My eligibility comes from my Irish-born grandmother. My father was born in the UK.

    My question is very similar to Mark’s above – do you need marriage and divorce certificates for other marriages that are unrelated to your ancestry? My dad was married four times. My mum was his second wife. Do I therefore need all four marriage certificates and three divorce decrees? With my dad being deceased, as well as all four of his (ex-)wives, I would have to order three other marriage certificates and find two divorce decrees from the County Court from decades ago, all for people I have no relation to!

    I know you’re not the Irish government so of course you don’t have to know the answer, just wondering if anyone knew. Thanks for all this great information and congratulations on getting your citizenship 🙂

    1. Hey Thomas, thanks for reading the post.

      I’ll answer both yours and Marks’ question about the divorce certificate.

      Basically, it’s a bit of a grey zone. I would say include the most recent divorce certificate with current marriage certificate (if applicable). Again, I’m not 100% sure so I would email your local Irish embassy (or even the foreign birth registration center in Ireland) to get your final answer. Luckily your father didn’t change his last name when he got married (right?) so they probably wouldn’t know. They really only care about the person you’re receiving your Irish citizenship from, and in this case lineage is from your father.

      Thanks! Hope that helped.

  12. Great post about the process. I’m trying to do my application to the Foreign Birth Registry right now (by descent via my deceased grandfather).

    The requirement for “original” documentation is confusing though. I’m getting certified copies from the various government agencies In Canada and Ireland but they’re “technically” not original – but the government certifies that what they’re providing is the same thing.

    I asked the Canadian Irish embassy and received this:

    All certificates must be the certified government issued certificates. We do not accept government issued certificates that have been certified/notarised by either a Notary Public/Commissioner for Oaths.

    Hmmm. I guess I’ll find out!

    1. The certified copies are perfectly fine to use. I didn’t have the original birth certificate either, in which the Irish government directed me to a government agency that could provide an official “duplicate” of her birth certificate (and marriage). Basically, the Irish embassy is saying that they won’t accept baptismal certificates, but if it’s a legit source they should accept it.

      As for the Irish birth certificate of your grandfather (do you have that?) the link to get a copy of that from the Irish government is in my blog somewhere. I think for the marriage certificate (if your mother/father and grandfather were married in Canada), getting an official copy of that from a government agency is fine. I mean, sht happens and you can’t find the original, right?

      Go ahead and send everything to Ireland. If they deem something is not correct, they will email you and tell you what was incorrect and where/how to get it).

      1. Re my grandfather’s birth certificate – yes, they were able to find the record and I’ve received the certified copy.

        All the Canadian certifications are there – they just look cheap (LOL – photo copies embedded on government stationary) with an embossed stamp. The Irish document “looks” authentic – in colour and just “feels” like an authentic document- never underestimate the importance of great paper stock!

        One thing the embassy also advised me is that all processing is now done exclusively through Dublin (i.e. no embassy processing). I suspect it’s related to Brexit and the huge onslaught of applications for Irish citizenship that resulted. No estimates on delays/timeframes as a result of this decision

        Thanks for the great advice/tips!

    1. As far as I know: no. But they won’t deny you unless a. your grandparent really wasn’t Irish or b. your documents weren’t the ones they needed, in which case they will tell you HOW to get the correct ones.

      In the case of situation b, they will not charge you. They will not charge you until everything is ready to be processed.

  13. I’m in the UK and lucky that I’ve found the certificates I need, and once they all turn up I have to submit the form. I would be really grateful if you could answer a couple of questions

    I know I have to get Section D filled in by the witness but the online form you fill in, submit and print doesn’t have a section D. When I print it out will it just print with it or is there another form I don’t know about?

    Do you print the pages before you click the submit button?

    I am really nervous of doing it incorrectly and delaying everything.


  14. Hello, thanks for the interesting information. You mention that a great-grandparent might qualify. I have traced throughly my fathers side back 6 generations. I am the last living member in this tree. My question is, I was born in the US in 1959, my father in 1928 as well as his father born in US in 1870. His father ( my great grandfather) and the three grand parent generations were all born in Ireland. The surname is the same for all 6 generations and the first name is the same in 4 of them, including my own first name which has made it quite easy to research over the years. If I am able to acquire the necessary documentation to apply on a great-grandparents lineage would this suffice? I have always been under the impression that the cut-off was at the grand parent level although in the 1980’s I was told of a cousin emigrating to Ireland, and was quickly granted the right to live and work there. Sadly he has passed as well so I find myself starting this long interest. I would certainly appreciate any insight you may have, Thanks.

  15. Hi! Ive found this super informative but I have a question. My great grandmother was Irish, she moved to the islands where she met her husband. They went on to have children and my grandmother was born. As it goes along, my father was born in the time of my ggm. Now heres the question, if my dad applies for Irish citizenship, would I be able to apply through him after he receives it?

  16. Okay, me again. I found out about the last post I made and its not possible so heres the new question. . . My great grandmother was born in ireland. My grandmother was born in Trinidad and its said that the child of a irish citizen is irish right? Right, so that would make MY grandmother irish. How do I go about applying??? The Irish Consulate here is NOT helpful. Do I have to apply to the FBR? Please help me!

    1. Hi Keisha, sorry for the late reply. I think another user commented on this thread, but basically if your grandmother was NOT born in Ireland it is not possible for you to claim citizenship. Sorry!

      1. As a follow up to this, I applied (and got) a Re. of Foreign Birth and subsequently an Irish passport a few years back. However, all of the “certified” US documents I needed to submit required an apostille. You didn’t mention that and I am surprised that they backed off of that requirement. Were you able to get the registration without that extra set of steps? (Note, the US Citizenship Declaration for my grandfather was automatically apostilized when I filed for it).

        Thanks for clarifying.

        1. Just wondering, what did you need the US Citizenship Declaration for? As far as I can tell, according to the foreign births register site (, one does not need to submit such documentation; rather, you need the Irish-born grandparent’s 1) birth certificate 2) marriage license 3) notarized copy of passport/drivers license (or original death certificate).

          As an aside, I submitted all my paperwork today, and did not get the seal of the apostille for most documents; when I reached out to the foreign consulate, they said that “as long as each document is stamped from the issuing authority they should be ok.” I did however get the seal of the apostille for my grandparents’ marriage license; I went to NYC to get an original copy a couple days ago, and the relevant authorities to issue the seal of the apostille were all within walking distance (though it did require about three hours of waiting around!).

          I had a local bank manager act as a witness for the application itself and for the passport photos.

          Here’s to hoping I hear back in a somewhat reasonable time, and that they don’t need anything else from me!

          1. Good for you. I could not get my grandparents’ official marriage certificate because New York State will only give you an official copy if you are the bride or the groom on the certificate. Maybe your grandparents’ marriage was earlier than mine. My grandparents didn’t even come to the US until the 1920s, and they married in 1931. My mother always said she was a honeymoon baby. LOL. But, they Ireland accepted the copy that NY would give me that said for geneology purposes as long as I sent them a copy of the rule from NY.

          2. Interesting! Maybe New York State differs from New York City in that regard? I went right into the department of records information services (DORIS) in NYC, and looked up my grandparents’ marriage certificate, and printed it out. Everything older than 50 years is considered public record, so it’s rather easy to get. Ether way, glad you got it! Let’s hope I have similar luck.

          3. My mother had passsed away, but my father is living and he went with me to White Plains and we got that certificate. You would think that New York State laws would apply to NYC. New York also will not give official birth certificates unless your name appears on it (mother, father, or child). Here’s the page from New Rochelle about the marriage.

          4. Anthony, I read the NYC page. 50 years. The rest of NY State doesn’t have that number for public records.

  17. If my great grandmother was born in Ireland can I apply for a passport
    If there any lawyer you suggest I talk with

  18. it seems to be very difficult to find birth certificates for great great grand parents that came into the country from Ireland or Scotland (practically the same thing, gaelic vs Irish, arent both celts?; I dont even know if they could be found. I have a distant great grand parent that was Indian but it would be impossible to prove it, I seen thepic but dont even know where she is buried. It seems disrespectful to claim Im Indian just because I got a very distant relative that could of been. How do these people prove these things?

    1. Great great grandparents are not eligible. Grandparents, however, are. I was EXTREMELY impressed that Ireland was able to retrieve a copy of my grandmother’s birth certificate. The process to get my Irish citizenship was much more pleasant and easy than doing my taxes in the USA. Two thumbs up for the Irish Government.

      1. Citizenship through Great Grandparents (pedigree: D > C > B > A) is possible, but only IF your parent of Irish descent registered in the FBR either between 1956 – 1986 OR your parent of Irish descent registered FBR before you were born. The information is clearly available at and there is a decision tree here:

        To become an Irish citizen, contact the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to check if your parent of Irish descent (ie the grandchild of your great-grandparent) registered in the Foreign Births Register:
        Between 1956 to 1986, or
        Before you were born, if you were born after 1986

  19. I applied September of 2016 and just now see Dublin charged my credit card. So, yay!!! Now I await my package. What did you do next? Did you just need to take the proof of enrollment in the Registry of Foreign Births to the Embassy and apply for a passport? What are the steps after Registry is approved? And what is the cost after the 270 Euros?
    I’m so excited. (NY does not issue certified (with seal) marriage certificates to anyone other than the bride and the groom. I had to get one that said for genealogy purposes only and include a printout of the NY rules from their website. This was apparently accepted. I’m so excited.

    1. Hi Terry!

      Congrats!!! I’m so glad everything worked out for you!!!

      Watch your mailbox for a package from Ireland. It should contain all of your documents that you sent in, the foreign birth register and instructions on how to get your passport (comes with form, what kind of photos you need, etc..). I believe the fee was 50-100 USD but no more than that for sure. Easy peasy.


      1. RubyMary, Is passport the very next step, or do I only get the birth certificate now and then have to apply for citizenship and then passport after that?

        1. The foreign birth certificate means you are officially a citizen of Ireland. You don’t need anything else to prove your citizenship. You’re done.

          You cannot apply for an Irish passport without your foreign birth certificate. Once you get that, you can apply for an Irish passport and you’re done.

    2. Hi Terry, how long did it take to receive documents after they charged your card? I Just got charged so am eagerly awaiting.

      1. Tony, Congratulations!!! It’s all downhill from here. I think it only took a short while. The letter from Ireland was dated January 18th. I’ll check tomorrow morning to see when I received the packet in the mail. I’ve applied for my passport now. The consulate said it can take up to six months for that, but that’s an outside limit. I only sent that out last week.

  20. “The process to get my Irish citizenship was much more pleasant and easy than doing my taxes in the USA”

    you can say that again ) I sometimes think those peole go out of their way to make things as difficult as possible so you have to hire an accountant. every candidate promises they will redo the tax code but never do.

    I have a very Irish sounding name but I dont look particuarlly Irish, actually you look more Irish than me and Im what you would consider a whitie. we Americans are so mixed that its really hard to claim “Im Irish” unless all your Irish lineage came from both parents, but in your case being half Irish is about as close as many of us can get, I guess Im like 1/32 or 1/64 but I could claim that same ratio for welsh Indian, dutch and who know what else )

  21. Once a japanese right winger bus followed me around yelling at me on his speaker, calling me an iranjin…lol
    just had to endure his b.s. until I got off that road, the police were following him but didnt do a thing because this kind of mess is legal?. in those moments aint nobody standing next to you to help you, just got to own yourself, like this is really happening, this aint disneyland. so race is real but peole get too hung up on it, I check myself on that all the time.

  22. The lovely Irish are also saving the British now. I live in France and after Brexit I could be thrown out , but due to the wonderful Irish, I have obtained Irish citizenship and now Qualify as a European again. Read my story on On becoming Irish.

  23. Currently waiting for my Irish passport to arrive, which I intend to toast with Guinness and whiskey. Of course having become Irish to remain living in Europe , the next thing to scupper my plans for a peaceful international life will be if the French leave the EU too!
    I will have to wriggle out of that with the luck of the !

    1. Have my passport now and peace of mind that I can’t be thrown out of Europe now, due the colossal stupidity of Thereas May and the suicidal Brexit ! Let’s hope the French are not inspired by the stupidity of the British to leave the EU too!

  24. How long does it normally take to get the passport after applying? I’m awaiting my birth certificate. My credit card has been charged. Excited.

  25. I have a quick question on the ID process for a first Irish passport where you have an Irish parent.

    My father is named obviously as my father on my birth certificate. Do I need to supply his marriage certificate as well as his birth certificate – surely his birth certificate is evidence he was born in Ireland and mine shows he is my father?

    I would have thought ‘if applicable’ only applies to your mother as she would have altered her surname?

    I can send his marriage certificate as well but don’t really see why it’s necessary for a male parent? So just wanted to check first – as I am worried about documents getting lost!

    1. I am 99% positive that you have to supply both birth and marriage certificate, even in the case of a father and not a mother.

      Again, you can ask the consulate since I’m not an expert (and in my case it was my grandmother and not father), but I would send marriage just to be safe rather than sorry!

      1. I just got my citizenship from my grandparent and I just applied for my passport. The passport instructions say this about what you (born outside ireland, parent born in ireland):

        your original long-form birth certificate, and your original civil marriage certificate if you’ve changed your name due to marriage), The long-form birth certificate and marriage certificate (if applicable) of your irish born parent.

        This must mean if there was a name change due to marriage by your parent. But, I’m not certain. A simple call to the consulate will get an answer. I called because the website said my witness must provide a land-line phone number and my witness did not have one. They said I could ignore that instruction.

        I’m so excited, awaiting my passport now.

  26. I’m a bit confused as to the notarizing/certifying of the photocopy of my ID. I live in Texas and I believe a Notary Public cannot notarize a government issued identity document (at least in Texas). Is the witness who signed the application able, by themselves, to certify the photocopy or am I missing an alternative work around here? I have all the other documents needed so this is the very last step for me. Anyone had a similar situation?

    1. Tom, I’m in Houston. I ran into the same snag. Then the notary at Chase was able to notarize a paper saying that I presented my passport and TDL to him and I attached that to a copy of my passport and license and sent it in and it was accepted. I can show you if you want.

  27. both my grandparents were born in Ireland. My grandmother in Northern Ireland and Grandfather in Southern Ireland. My sister and I both received our Irish Citizenship a few years ago. I am wanting to know if my 3 sons can claim Irish citizenship. They are born 1988, 1991 and 1987 in South Africa. I have not had any success with Southern Ireland but was wondering about Northern Ireland because it falls under the UK? I have all the necessary documents which I used for my own application.

    1. No. When your great grandparent was born in Ireland, you are only eligible for citizenship if your parent had gotten their citizenship prior to your birth. My daughter is in the same boat. She is ineligible. BTW, Ireland is made up of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. One of my pet peeves is people calling ROI Southern Ireland. Also, I am unaware of the United Kingdom granting citizenship by descent.

  28. I qualify for Irish citizenship through my Irish-born grandmother.
    The problem is that I’m not in contact with my mother, and have no way of getting a copy of her ID documents. (But I have all other necessary documents: her birth certificate, marriage certificate, etc.)
    Does anyone know if it’s possible to work around this ?

    1. You can obtain the documents for your mother or grandparents by contacting the appropriate country’s record office’s . You don’t need the authority of your parents, this is what I did successfully.

      1. I successfully applied using my grandmother/mother. I had to supply either my mother’s ID or her death certificate. It’s one of the documents required. You should call Ireland and ask to be sure.

      2. I can get my mother’s birth certificate, etc. without her authority. But one of the required documents is a current ID (passport, drivers licence, etc.), which I cannot possibly get without my mother giving it to me.

        1. You can call Ireland and talk to the people at the FBR and explain. They will tell you what to do. I couldn’t get my grandmother’s original marriage certificate, only one for genealogy, and they told me to explain that and I included the NY webpage saying this and they accepted it. They will tell you what to do. Good Luck!

          1. Thanks for everyone that replied.
            I ended up contacting Ireland (can’t remember who; INIS, maybe ?), and was told that it’s not possible to claim citizenship without my mother’s ID.

  29. Hey Ruby,
    I also just received my FBR for Ireland and am planning a visit next week. I don’t have an Irish passport yet, and am planning on applying once there. Do you know, will they accept my FBR certificate as Irish Citizenship at immigration? Or do I need to enter on my Australian passport? Has anyone had this experience?

    1. Hey there,

      I’m not super sure since I haven’t been to Ireland yet with the citizenship, but just to be safe I would just enter on your australian passport.

  30. So this is my problem I have sibling in Maine and I am in NC they already have their citizenship, they went to Boston to get it but I know my sister will not give me the original doc. for me to do this. Can I use copy’s?

  31. Hi! I’ve been working on this process for a little while now, and have run into some issues. I thought my mom had all of the original certificates needed, but she actually just has copies. I’m working on requesting these now but NYC is a bit more intense with the details.

    Anyway, I submitted the online portion of the application about a month ago, and they charge my card right away, even though my documents haven’t been mailed in yet. Did anyone have something similar happen or know why? I know I won’t be mailing everything in for a little longer now and would lose my money on this.

  32. Hey Ruby. Great site and great article. I’ve been looking for a post-Japan adventure. I think it will be Ireland. Sending in my FBR docs today. Thanks for the tips!!

    1. I just got my confirmation. My application took 4 months. I thought it was pretty good. I thought it might be more if lots of British citizens were applying post-Brexit. Anyhow, next step is passport.
      Thanks for all the excellent tips on the site.

  33. I am an American citizen with Irish born Grandparents. I have recently received Irish citizenship through decent. Now I am not debating whether to apply for the Irish passport but I am wondering what are some of the benefits? Thank you in advance.

    1. Ireland is in the EU. so an Irish passport gives you access to study, travel, live, work in any EU country. No visa necessary.

  34. I am surprised…. you are able to submit CHURCH marriage certificates for your grandparents and your parents?
    The website says that does not work. I am hoping it is not the case!

    1. No, they didn’t accept it. I had to request the official legal documents from the state of MA (where my grandparents got married). It was pretty inexpensive and only cost $50 or so.

      So… get the ‘legal’ documents if you can. It’s a pain, but it’s actually not as inconvenient as it sounds. You can order the documents online easily.

      1. New York makes it tough with their identity theft laws. You can only getting official marriage certugucares if you are bride or groom. Birth certificates difficult too. But Ireland accepted my grandmother’s “for genealogy purposes” marriage certificate along with a printout of the website saying the rule. Luckily I found my mother’s official birth certificate. It was easier to get the 1905 grandmother’s birth certificate from Ireland than the 1932 Ny birth certificate of my mother.

        1. NYC-not sure if statewide -changed the rules-straight from website:

          Starting January 1, 2019, the following relations can request the birth certificate of someone who is deceased:

          Domestic partner
          Parent (if the deceased was 18 or younger)
          Great grandchild

  35. My sister and I are both applying – do we each need to have separate documents – i have one full set of my mothers and grandfathers but would we have to get another set for her application – any help would be appreciated – thank you.

    1. Hi Deirdre! My sister and I applied in the fall with one set of documents (except for our separate birth certificates, proof of address etc.) and got approved. Our printed applications even had different return addresses on them, and our individual documents and FBR certificates were sent back separately. They just put all of our dad’s and grandfather’s documents in with my returned application. To be sure, I just put a little sticky note in with everything that explained we’re siblings who now live separately. Hope that helps!

        1. I don’t think any of mine did. They all had the official stamp they came with, but I didn’t get anything additional done to them.

  36. My father’s parents were born in Ireland and I intend to claim citizenship using my grandfather’s birth certificate. I am a male with the same last name as my father and grandfather. I took a look at the online application and it asks for my father’s marital status. He and my mother divorced in 1976 and he married my stepmother a few years later, so his status is “married.” Do I need really need to submit my parents’ divorce degree under these circumstances? This is the one document I haven’t tracked down as of yet.

    1. I would contact your local Irish embassy/consulate. They’re usually pretty quick responding to requests.

      Again, I AM NOT A LEGITIMATE SOURCE. I would say follow the instructions down to the very last detail. If they don’t mention anything about it for a grandfather, then I would contact your local Irish consulate to confirm.

  37. My mother was born in Ireland in 1918, her father was in British army stationed there. I think she lived there for about 1 year.

    Her birth certificate issues in England I guess states she was born in Ireland. As far as i am aware she was British only.

    Based on above does it mean i can obtain an Irish passport?

      1. My grandparents were born in northern Ireland prior to the split in 1920 so this qualified me to become a citizen of ROI. I’m sure the UK would not grant me citizenship there. Plus, ROI gives me EU access. I doubt UK will after brexit.

      2. I now found record of my mother’s birth in Limerick, Ireland.
        There is no record of her birth in UK.
        I already have British passport, I was born in England.
        I am living in far east now and my local embassy has asked for my mother’s birth and marriage cert’s only. When i get them i will process my Irish passport application.

  38. I have an observation and a question. First, my credit card was charged immediately after I submitted the application online, i.e., before I had even mailed it. People may want to be aware of this so they don’t submit the application and payment until they are ready to mail everything.

    My question has to do with the passport photos. It says in your post and on the application that they need to be “signed by a witness.” Does this mean that the actual photographs themselves have to be signed, or do you just adhere them to the application where indicated and have the witness sign above where the photos go? Thanks again!

    1. I had my witness sign the back of the photos. Also, there are only certain professions that can be witnesses (doctor, school principal, CPA, minister, attorney,……)

  39. Is it still possible to obtain Irish citizenship through one’s great-grandparents? I believe that these was a cut-off date but the Irish website referenced at the top of this page is no longer working.

    Also, I understand that there are consulting firms in ireland who can do the required research. Has anyone here worked with one of these companies and what basic information do they need to get started?


  40. By any chance, do you remember how you affixed your passport photos to the application? I have most of the documents required and will be submitting next month. Perhaps I’m overthinking it, but I don’t want to overlook anything, resulting in a rejected application. I was thinking of stapling them, as is standard for US passport renewals. But I figured I’d dig around the internet a little and see if there is some information on it out there.

    1. Hey there,

      I think I just used cellophane tape or a gluestick. Honestly, the Irish government isn’t mean enough to reject your application because the photo wasn’t attached correctly. I even sent in the wrong documents and they reached out to me.

      Anyway, I would attach it in a way that would make it easy for them to remove it if they needed to.

  41. I have read various articles indicating the volume of applications as increased significantly with in the past year or so, especially from Britain and the United States. Does anyone have recent information on processing time once an application is received in Ireland? Thanks.

    1. Hi! Not super recent, but I sent my FBR application last summer. It got to Dublin on July 31st, was approved on October 31st (got an email saying Congratulations), and documents were returned by November 23rd.

      1. Thank you for the information. My application was received in Dublin at the end of February, so hopefully your experience means I will hear by the end of this month. Thanks again.

  42. Something interesting happened the other day when I logged into one of my credit card accounts online. After logging in, I was prompted to update my personal information. When I clicked the link to take care of this, I was asked to indicate whether I had dual citizenship. That appears to be the only thing that prompted the request to update. I’m hoping this is a good sign!

  43. Hi Ruby.

    I am trying to look into the possibility of getting Irish citizenship. I have a strange situation that maybe just disqualifies me or maybe not, so I want to ask if anyone has advise for me, is there any hope for me of citizenship by descent?

    My grandfather was born in South Africa (his mother was pregnant with him when they moved from Ireland). My grandfather must have gotten his citizenship automatically from being born to Irish citizens. My mother only acquired citizenship through descent after I was born about 6 years ago. She has lived in the UK since then and not in Ireland.

    Will I be able to get Irish citizenship now? Is there any loophole or any advantage to my Mom now being an Irish citizen as well as my late Irish grandfather?

    I would appreciate any advice you have to offer about my situation. I am trying to go work there now so that I can be close to my Mom.

    Best Regards,

    1. Hi Kevin,

      I think this is a question for your local Irish consulate, especially since your situation is so unique. I would email them to confirm.

      If I’m not mistaken, on the website it says your grandparent needs to be born in Ireland for the whole citizenship acquisition thing to work. I would double check the website.

      Sorry I couldn’t help more!

      1. Hi Ruby,

        Thank you for the response.

        I have since gotten more information and it is currently not possible to go the citizenship by descent route for us. The up side is that I found out we can be naturalised after only 3 years instead of 5 years because of our Mom, Grandad and Great Grandmother’s citizenship.

        So my brother and I are currently on a mission to get work-visa sponsorship there and begin our 3 year naturalisation.

        It’s all going to work out in the end 🙂 Thanks again!


  44. Hi. I am going to apply for citizenship, I’m gathering the documents. I was curious about the return of the documents. Did they return them after the year of waiting? My uncle has all the info of the family and he is not comfortable giving up the originals to send out to Ireland. Any words on this?

    1. Hi Brian,

      I had the exact same question as you, and the answer is YES. The Irish government does return all of your documents. When they mail you your brand new Irish birth certificate, they include all the original documents as well. I was also very concerned and reached out about it and they said they send the documents back. They were true to their word.

  45. My sisters and I are applying – they are both married – do they need apositile’s on their marriage licenses from USA – does not say so on application but did see it on one website – any help appreciated – submitted online application just waiting to get the last bit of documentation ready to send – very exciting!!

    1. I reached out to the Department of Foreign Affairs via facebook to ask this same question (I know, a bit weird to randomly message their facebook, but I wasn’t getting a response using the “contact us” form on the New York site). I wasn’t sure if I needed the stamp of the apostille on various documents, but they said, “As long as each document is stamped from the issuing authority they should be ok.”

      So, while it wouldn’t hurt to get the stamp of the apostille, it doesn’t seem necessary.

  46. I was successful in getting myself added to the Birth Registry and applied for a passport through the embassy in NY several weeks ago. The tracking feature on the embassy site says my application is complete and my passport has been dispatched. Does anyone know from experience how long it takes from the date of dispatch to actual receipt of the passport?

  47. Just leaving a comment for others who stop by here to get a feel for processing time. Dublin received my application on 3/11/2019. I received an email on 12/10/2019 that they are ready to approve my application, but need to confirm my mailing address. They also warned me that there would be a delay of about a month in getting my certificate due to a printing backlog. I received noticed via email that my application was successful on 1/21/2020. I finally received my documents and Foreign Births Registration certificate in the mail on 1/28/2020.

    Best of luck to all present and future applicants!

  48. this has been so helpful. thank you to everyone who posted. I cannot find my mother’s original birth certificate and it appears there were many Irish catholics in NY who did not register their births with the state. I plan to get a document from the state saying it could not be found and then include a certified baptism record. Has anyone else done this and have any tips?

Leave a Reply

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

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.