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How to Get Irish Citizenship by Descent from Grandparents

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The Irish have a well-earned reputation for being some of the friendliest people in the world. But that’s far from being their only strength because, when it comes to the kind of offshore strategies we discuss at Nomad Capitalist, Ireland ticks a lot of boxes.

With one of Europe’s lowest corporate tax rates, beautiful landscapes and hearty cuisine, why not honour your Irish heritage by becoming an official Irish citizen through family ties?

After all, if it’s good enough for Mel Gibson, Olivia Wilde, Denis Leary and the Lord of the Dance himself, Michael Flatley, then what’s not to like? Even better, Ireland is one of the easiest places to get second citizenship through your Irish parent, grandparent or, in some cases, great-grandparent.

The easiest and cheapest route to securing a new passport is often the Citizenship by Descent (CBD) process. At Nomad Capitalist, we provide our clients with a turnkey solution for dual citizenship, asset protection, offshore tax planning and global diversification. Contact us to learn how we can get you started on the path to personal freedom. 

Benefits of Being an Irish Citizen

The population of the Republic of Ireland has been slowly growing to around 5.3 million, while just over 7 million people, North and South, now call the Emerald Isle home. At the same time, the number of Irish passport holders continues to rise almost every year, with both 2022 and 2023 seeing a record number of new passports issued.

In the United States alone, there are more than 31.5 million people, almost 10% of the entire US population, with an Irish lineage and many of those can potentially claim the benefits of Irish citizenship. 

The country has a very open policy of granting citizenship to those whose family tree includes Irish ancestors. In fact, while concrete figures are hard to come by, it’s believed the number of non-resident passport holders taking advantage of dual citizenship from the Emerald Isle numbers in the millions.

But what exactly are the benefits?

Access to the European Union

Irish citizens are also citizens of the European Union – the prosperous union of 27 nations that promotes the free flow of its people within its vast borders. As an Irish citizen, you’ll be free to live, travel and work anywhere within the EU.

Live Anywhere You Want

The Irish passport is one of the best you can get. It’s ranked the second best in the world in our Nomad Passport Index 2024. It offers visa-free access to 175 countries, including the United States and Canada (the most difficult one to access) and freedom of movement around Europe.

On top of that, it’s also an extremely low-risk passport. The country’s geographic location as an island alone reduces the geopolitical risks common in other EU countries. More importantly, it has the backing of the EU and is one of the most business-friendly countries in the world.

There are other ways to obtain Irish citizenship beyond ancestral ties. For instance, you can qualify for citizenship by running a business. While Ireland is business-friendly, you would have to reside there to qualify, which would be difficult for anyone who can’t commit to living in Ireland for the next five years.

That’s why the citizenship-by-descent option is so attractive. In the wake of Brexit, the Irish passport grew in popularity. In 2022, a record 1,080,000 Irish passports were issued, a large portion of which were British applicants. 

CBD has allowed many UK citizens with Irish ancestry to maintain their status as EU citizens. However, the passport isn’t just a good deal for the British; it’s an excellent opportunity for anyone who qualifies for an EU passport.

Who Qualifies for Irish Citizenship by Descent?

Who Qualifies for Irish Citizenship by Descent?
Reach out to Nomad Capitalist to find your pathway to Irish citizenship.

Ireland’s citizenship program is one of the few worldwide that’s clear and concise about what it wants to achieve and how to get there. The process is transparent in terms of the Irish citizenship-by-descent requirements. In short, if you have an Irish parent or an Irish grandparent who were Irish citizens, then you’re eligible to become an Irish citizen under Irish law.

Many other countries have similar programs, but their processes are ambiguous and involve lots of paperwork just to figure out if you meet the initial requirements for citizenship by descent. Thankfully, the Irish made things pretty uncomplicated in this regard.

Does Ireland Allow for Citizenship by Birth?

If you fit one of the following categories, you are automatically considered an Irish citizen:

  • You were born on the island of Ireland to an Irish citizen
  • You were born on the island of Ireland to a non-Irish citizen who satisfied certain conditions (for example, maintaining 3-4 years of residence in Ireland) at the time of your birth
  • You were born outside Ireland to Irish citizens born in Ireland. 

You are also entitled to Irish citizenship (and can gain the status by registering with the Foreign Births Register) if you fit one of the following situations:

  • You were born outside of Ireland to Irish citizens who were also born outside of Ireland and your grandparents were Irish citizens born in Ireland.
  • You were born outside of Ireland, your parents were born outside of Ireland but were registered on the Foreign Births Register before you were born and your grandparents were born outside of Ireland to your great-grandparents who were born in Ireland.

In simpler terms, if each generation has Irish citizenship, it doesn’t matter that no one has lived in Ireland since their great-grandparents. Sounds great, doesn’t it?

It’s important to note that if your parent obtained Irish citizenship through marriage, adoption or naturalisation but was an Irish citizen at the time of your birth, you still qualify for Irish citizenship.

The beauty of this system is that it does not prioritise your parents being married, nor does it matter whether the ancestor linking you to Ireland was alive when you were born. However, it’s worth noting you can’t claim Irish citizenship based on ancestors other than your parents, grandparents, great-grandparents (this last option is more complicated) such as cousins, aunts or uncles.

Finally, if you were born in Northern Ireland before January 1, 2005, you are an Irish citizen by birth. That means you are entitled to claim Irish citizenship and apply for an Irish passport. You are also entitled to Irish citizenship if you were born in Northern Ireland to either an Irish or British parent on or after January 1, 2005.

How to Claim Irish Citizenship by Descent

How to Claim Irish Citizenship by Descent
If one or more of your parents was an Irish citizen, you may be on the road to gaining Irish citizenship.

If you believe you can claim Irish citizenship by descent but don’t understand how, then this guide was put together by the Nomad Capitalist team to walk you through the process. Keep in mind that even though Ireland’s system is already fairly straightforward, the guide further breaks it down for you.  

Step 1: Foreign Births Registration

Most importantly, you must register your birth in the Foreign Births Register before claiming Irish citizenship. To do so, follow the directions listed under the ‘Foreign Births Registration’ tab found in the government’s guide.

The guide will walk you through the various birth and marriage certificates you need and other relevant records confirming your citizenship.

Step 2: Fill Out the Application for Irish Citizenship by Descent

When that’s done, fill out the application form online, print it out and mail it in with your documents, photos and fee. You can find a list of Irish embassies abroad where you can mail your application here.

Step 3: Receive Your Certificate

Once your citizenship is granted, you will receive a certificate confirming your foreign birth registration in the Irish Register of Foreign Births. Your citizenship will be effective from the date of the foreign birth registration and you can then pass down Irish citizenship to the next generation.

How to Get Your Irish Passport

Your citizenship does not automatically come with an Irish passport, although it does qualify you to apply for one. You have to go the extra mile to obtain your passport but the good news is that, if you’ve reached this point, then it’s a short hop across the finish line.

Sending in Documents

Sending in Documents
Sending in all the necessary paperwork is an important part of becoming an Irish citizen.

If you’re in Ireland, you can apply through Passport Express or go to a Passport Office in person. If you reside in any one of the following countries, you can apply via Passport Online:

If you don’t see your country of residence on the above list, locate the Irish embassy or consulate closest to you and send them your documents via post. If you were born abroad to an Irish-born parent, include these documents: 

  • Birth certificate
  • Civil marriage or partnership certificate
  • Irish-born parent’s birth certificate
  • Parents’ civil marriage certificate.

If you obtained citizenship through foreign birth registration, include these documents: 

  • The previously mentioned birth registration certificate
  • Your birth certificate
  • Your civil marriage or partnership certificate and your passport.

A standard 10-year, 32-page passport will cost €75 plus postal fees. Check out the Irish government passport application and renewal page for full instructions. Unfortunately, as of February 2023, Ireland no longer offers citizenship by investment (also known as a Golden Visa). But don’t worry, if you don’t qualify for Irish citizenship by descent, you can potentially pursue citizenship by marriage or naturalisation.  

Irish Citizenship by Marriage

If you can’t claim Irish citizenship by descent, several options remain available to acquire Irish citizenship. Another fast route is Irish Citizenship by marriage: if your spouse is from Ireland and you’re willing to live there for a couple of years, you can apply for an Irish passport after three years of marriage or civil relationship.

Unlike some other countries, Ireland recognises gay marriage, so your sexual orientation won’t hold you back obtaining an Irish passport.

Reclaim Your Heritage

Reclaim Your Heritage
You may be entitled to Irish citizenship through your ancestral heritage.

As more European countries close their Golden Visa programs and immigration policies generally become tighter, the value of claiming citizenship by descent has never been more precise – and the costs are significantly lower.

Ireland’s program is one of the most open, though not everyone will qualify. So, if you’re not of Irish descent, don’t fret – many other countries offer citizenship by descent so you might qualify elsewhere.  You may even discover a whole new side to your family tree and a heritage you never knew existed, allowing you to enjoy a new dream life overseas. 

Irish Citizenship by Descent: FAQs

Can I get Irish citizenship if my great-grandparents were Irish?

Yes, in some cases, you can get Irish citizenship by descent if you have Irish great-grandparents, though a central requirement will depend on whether your relevant grandparent registered their birth in the Foreign Births Register before your parent was born.

How far back can you claim Irish citizenship?

In some cases, you can claim citizenship by descent in Ireland if you have Irish great-grandparents, but no further than this.

How do you qualify for Irish citizenship?

You can usually qualify for Irish citizenship through a direct relative or ancestor. For example, if you have an Irish parent or grandparent, you can become an Irish citizen under Irish law.

How do I get an Irish passport via descent from great-grandparents?

If you are in Ireland, you can apply through Passport Online or go to a Passport Office in person. 

Does Ireland allow dual citizenship?

Yes, Ireland allows dual citizenship

Is it hard to get Irish citizenship?

Ireland is one of the most straightforward places in the world to get citizenship by descent.

Should You Apply for Irish Citizenship? 

Should You Apply for Irish Citizenship 
Becoming an Irish citizen is a good choice for those seeking more freedom and travel options.

Irish citizenship can opens many doors to new opportunities, meaning you and your family can grow in a nation that favours prosperity. If you have children, they’ll often have access to some of Europe’s best universities at a fraction of the cost of sending them to a university in the US. 

With its connection to the EU, Ireland provides limitless access to some of the world’s most powerful and wealthy economies and business sectors. Moreover, their relatively low corporate tax rate of only 12.5% (this has risen to 15% for larger multinationals) makes it one of the more affordable European nations to establish yourself.

So, what are you waiting for? Does Irish citizenship by descent sound like the right path for you? Then consider becoming an exclusive client of Nomad Capitalist and let us help you go where you’re treated best.

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