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Andrew Henderson

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Global Citizen • Most Popular

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. And when it comes to the kind of offshore strategies we talk about here, Ireland ticks a lot of boxes.

With one of the lowest corporate tax rates in Europe, beautiful landscapes, and amazing cuisine, why not honor your Irish heritage by becoming an official Irish citizen through family blood?

In this article, we discuss how Ireland is one of the easiest places to get second citizenship if you have an Irish parent, grandparent, or in some cases, an great-grandparent.

Nomad Capitalist is a turnkey solution for offshore tax planning, dual citizenship, asset protection, and global diversification. Find out more here.

Benefits of Being an Irish Citizen

Benefits of being an Irish citizen

There are more than 31.5 million Americans with Irish lineage. They account for almost 10% of the entire American population and can claim the benefits that come along with Irish citizenship. It’s relatively easy to do so. The population of Ireland is around 5 million, yet nearly 16 million Irish passports are in circulation.

The country has a very open policy of granting citizenship to those whose family tree includes ancestors from Ireland. In fact, there are more than 10 million non-resident passport holders taking advantage of dual citizenship from the Emerald Isle.

But what exactly are the benefits?

Access to the European Union 

Gain access to the European Union market

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

Live Anywhere You Want

Live anywhere you want

Another plus is that, unlike with the US passport, Irish passport holders have no obligation to live in Ireland at all. Once you have Irish citizenship, you could live anywhere in the world or become a nomad with few or no tax issues. For example, if you don’t plan on living in Ireland, having EU citizenship will allow you to take advantage of Europe’s zero-tax residency programs.

Enjoy Visa-Free Access to 173 Countries

Enjoy visa-free access to 175 countries

And, of course, the Irish passport is one of the best you can get. It is ranked as the fourth best in the world in our Nomad 2023 Passport Index, offering visa-free access to 173 countries, including the United States and Canada (the most difficult ones), and freedom of movement around Europe.

On top of that, is 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 friendliest countries around.

Obviously, 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 a pretty business-friendly place in general, you would have to live there to qualify.

For a lot of people who aren’t looking to live in Ireland for the next five years, that would be a difficult situation. That’s why the citizenship by descent option is so attractive.

In the wake of Brexit, the Irish passport grew in popularity. It affords many UK citizens with Irish ancestry the chance to maintain their status as EU citizens. But the passport isn’t just a good deal for the British, it is a great opportunity for an EU passport for anyone who qualifies.

Who Qualifies for Irish Citizenship by Descent?

Own a high-ranking passport

Ireland’s citizenship program is one of the few that is very straightforward. The process is clear in terms of the Irish citizenship by descent requirements. If you have an Irish parent or an Irish citizenship grandparent, you are eligible to become an Irish citizen under Irish law.

Many other related country programs are tangled in unambiguity and involve lots of paperwork just to know if you pass the requirements for citizenship by descent. Thankfully, they made things pretty simple in Ireland.

Does Ireland Give 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 (i.e. 3-4 years residence in Ireland) at the time of your birth.
  • You were born outside of 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 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 also important to note that, if your parent obtained Irish citizenship through marriage, adoption, or naturalization, 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 place priority on your parents being married and nor does it matter that the ancestor linking you to Ireland is alive or not at the time you were born.

You can’t claim Irish citizenship based on ancestors other than your parents or grandparents, such as cousins or aunts and uncles.

Finally, if you were born in Northern Ireland after January 1, 2005, and one of your parents was an Irish or UK citizen with permission to live in Ireland or Northern Ireland, then you are entitled to Irish citizenship.

How to Claim Irish Citizenship by Descent

How to Claim Irish Citizenship by Descent

If you believe you can claim Irish citizenship by descent, here’s your guide to get the process started. Keep in mind that we’ve tried to simplify it for you. 

Step 1: Foreign Births Register

Most importantly, before you can claim Irish citizenship, you must register your birth in the Foreign Births Register. To do so, follow the “How to Register a Foreign Birth” guide found in the Foreign Births Register here.

The guide will walk you through the different birth and marriage certificates you will need, as well as other relevant records that confirm your citizenship.

Step 2: Fill out The Application for Irish Citizenship by Descent

When that is done, fill out the application form online, print it out, and mail it in along 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

How to Get your Irish Passport

Your citizenship does not automatically come with an Irish passport, although it does qualify you for one. To obtain your passport, you have to go the extra mile. Good news: you’re about to cross the finish line.

Sending in Documents

If you are in Ireland, you can apply through Passport Express or go in-person to a Passport Office. Now, if you reside in any one of the following countries, you can apply via Passport Online. 

  • Ireland, Northern Ireland & Great Britain. 
  • The European Union. 
  • Australia.
  • Canada. 
  • New Zealand. 
  • The USA.

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

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

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

  • 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. For full instructions, check out the Irish government passport application and renewal page. If you qualify, obtaining Irish citizenship by descent is an amazing opportunity. Anyone with the required capital can go and purchase economic citizenship.

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.

As always, knowing your rights in advance makes all the difference and can save you a lot of time. Immigration can be confusing, but at Nomad Capitalist we make it simple. If you have questions about immigrating to Ireland, the EU, or immigration in general, talk to our team

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.

How do you qualify for Irish citizenship?

If you have an Irish parent or an Irish citizenship grandparent, for example, you are eligible to become an Irish citizen under Irish law.

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

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

Does Ireland allow dual citizenship?

Yes, Ireland allows dual citizenship.

Is it hard to get Irish citizenship?

Ireland is also one of the easiest places in the world to get second citizenship by descent.

Irish Citizenship by Marriage

If you can’t claim Irish citizenship by descent, there are a number of options available to you to still 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 does recognize gay marriage, so your sexual orientation won’t hold you back from the Irish passport.

Reclaim Your Heritage

As more European countries close their Golden Visa programs and with immigration policies becoming tighter generally, the value of claiming citizenship by descent has never been clearer. (And the costs are significantly lower.)  

Ireland’s program is one of the most open, though not everyone can qualify. So if you’re not of Irish descent, don’t fret. Many other countries offer citizenship by descent, and you never know where you might qualify. 

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. Contact us today to discover how.


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