How I Became Irish: Claiming Dual Citizenship Through Ancestry

How I Became Irish: Claiming Dual Citizenship Through Ancestry

How I Became Irish: Claiming Dual Citizenship Through Ancestry

Table of Contents

Irish Citizenship by Descent

I was born and raised purely in the United States, believe it or not. I am now an Irish citizen!

Wondering why?

I became an Irish citizen through ancentry, and so can you if your parents or grandparents are Irish.

During my youth, the theme of our yearly family gathering was always why our family was in America and why there were so many Irish here! According to history, religious strife, a lack of political sovereignty, and poor economic conditions pushed many people to flee Ireland. These immigrants, known as “Scotch-Irish,” were drawn to America by the prospect of property ownership and greater religious freedom. The majority of Scotch-Irish immigrants were educated and skilled professionals.

Between 1820 and 1860, about 2 million Irish immigrants arrived in America in search of a better life, and this vast movement has given a unique opportunity for Americans seeking Irish citizenship.

There are over 40 million people of Irish descent residing in the United States. I suspect that many of them are unaware that they may be qualified to become Irish citizens.

While the majority of nations permit individuals to claim citizenship if their parents were born there, Ireland goes many steps farther. Under the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act of 1956, anyone born outside of Ireland may claim Irish citizenship if their parents or grandparents were born in Ireland.

My grandfather (paternal side) was born in Ireland in 1935 and migrated to California in 1960’s.

In some instances, great-grandparents also work. However, only if your parents filed their own FBR (foreign birth registration) prior to your birth.

Why did I decide to pursue my Irish Citizenship?

The ultimate result is a second (EU) passport with all of its benefits, such as healthcare and the ability to live in the EU, to name a few. The main advantage I see is that having a second passport is quite beneficial. Irish nationals can travel to 175 countries without a visa, and Irish passport is one of the strongest in the world.

Instructions For Applying for an Irish Citizenship

If both of your parents were born in Ireland, you have automatic citizenship. But if you are applying because a grandparent was born in Ireland, you must provide paperwork to prove your ancestry.

Click here for formal guidelines from the Irish Embassy, which I’ve discussed briefly below.

Step 1: Document Collection

Collecting these original documents is the most labor-intensive aspect of this process. You may need to locate relatives who have them or request replacements from the appropriate authorities.

Main Applicant


(if both of your grandparents were born in Ireland, you will need to collect both of their document)


(the one related to your Irish grandparent)

Confirm that your documents are the originals (long-form) and that they are complete, particularly the birth certificates (such as middle names, if applicable).

Baptismal Certificate Workaround

The most challenging thing for me was locating an ORIGINAL Birth Certificate for my late Grandfather. Because he didn’t have one!

Many children in Ireland did not acquire official birth certificates in the early 1900s, particularly in more rural areas. Because doing so necessitated a trip to the next large city (something not every family could do easily).

Instead, local churches used Baptismal Certificates to document births. My grandfather was one of these, having been born into a family of a small community.

You will still need your grandparent’s birth certificate through the General Registrar’s Office.

You will receive a letter stating that they were unable to locate it.

You will need to send this along with all of your paperwork, and this “we can’t find one” letter as well as an actual copy of the church baptismal certificate (with church stamp).

Hiring an Irish Genealogy Service.

Eneclann would be a recommended company to utilize. Theu will help you track down the official documents.

Step 2: The Application

Fill up the online citizenship application after you have all of your lineage documentation ready.

You must wait until you have all of your paperwork before filling out the online application, since you will need the information of your parent and Irish-born grandparent, which can be found on your documents.

Once all the documents have been compelted, the application is electronically submitted to the Irish government. You’ll also receive a PDF version, which you must print and sign before mailing it in with the other documents you gathered previously.

But you won’t mail everything till the next step…

Step 3: Find a Professional Witness

A legal witness will be required to assist you with the entire application process. They must complete Section E of the application, sign your passport images, witness your signature, and offer their professional contact information (business card) for future follow-up.

Here’s a few people that can serve as your legal witness:

At the time of my application, I did not know anyone who could personally witness our my documents.

Therefore, we utilized a local notary in our area. All of your documents should cost you less than $10 USD to notarize. The notary should affix his or her seal, sign, and date your paperwork. 

Step 4: Send the Documents to Ireland

This is somewhat nerve-wracking. You will be mailing several original, confidential, personal documents to Dublin from abroad.

You will send your documents addressed to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Dublin

I suggest mailing everything via a reputable courier that offers mail tracking for safety’s sake. It’s a few more bucks, but I swear it’s worth it!

Once the entire process of acquiring Irish citizenship is complete, the Irish Government will return your original documents.

Step 5: Apply For An Irish Passport

Congratulations, you are now an Irish Citizen!

Before you may apply for an Irish passport, you must first have your FBR certificate. If you reside in the United States, you must contact your local Irish Embassy or Consulate to obtain an application form or to have one shipped to you, as the form cannot be downloaded online.

To apply for an Irish Passport, which is a distinct step, you’ll need your new Foreign Birth Registration document.

You must fill out the passport application, gather similar documents, pay the cost, and ship everything to the Irish consulate closest to your location.

Apply For An Irish Passport

How Much Did I spend?

How long did it take to obtain citizenship?

Five months after my initial application for Irish citizenship, I received my Foreign Birth Registration document in the mail. 

The majority of web sources indicate that this stage takes between 5 and 6 months to complete.

After submitting my application for an Irish passport, it took an additional four months for me to receive it.

The total duration of the process, from beginning to end, was around nine months, excluding the time required to locate any relevant family documents, such as original birth/death/marriage certificates.

Not Sure where to start? Consult with an expert.

If you think that you meet the requirements and you’re serious about getting an Irish Passport via Ancestry, it is strongly recommended that you take advantage of it.

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