How to Obtain Irish Citizenship by Descent: A Comprehensive Guide

Irish citizenship by descent, second passport, ancestral citizenship, Irish passport

One of the fastest, easiest, and most inexpensive methods of obtaining a second passport is through ancestral citizenship. If your parents or grandparents are citizens of the Emerald Isle, you may be eligible for an Irish passport. Let’s dive in and explore the basics of applying for Irish citizenship by descent. 

Benefits of Citizenship on The Emerald Isle

Ireland is known for its breathtaking landscapes, distinct cuisine, legendary stout (Guinness Beer), and ‘craic’—friendly banter. With a population of 5 million, it’s the second largest island on the British Isle

Your second passport will open your door to the world and provide the perks below: 

  • Visa-Free Travel—as part of the European Union, your passport grants you visa-free travel to over 180 countries. 
  • Global Accessibility—as an Irish citizen, you can live, work, and study in all 27 countries in the EU.
  • Property Ownership—it will be far easier to purchase property in Ireland and other EU countries with your new passport. 
  • Bustling Business Sector—the corporate tax rates are low and there’s a thriving business hub.
  • Stability—the country is strong and boasts a stable economy, democratic parliament, and robust stock exchange.
  • Moderate Weather—the picturesque green of the island comes at the cost of around 200 rainy days per year. However, the weather rarely drops below 40 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter or above 80 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer. There’s also an exceptionally low risk of natural disasters.  
  • Quality of Life—if you decide to live full-time or part-time in the country, you’ll have access to quality primary education, free healthcare, social security, and access to free secondary education.  
  • English Language—there are 2 official languages in Ireland, English and Gaelic. Gaelic is still taught in schools, but 98% of the population speaks English. Although there’s no need to learn a new language, if you aren’t familiar with an Irish brogue, it will take time to adjust. 
  • Speed of Citizenship—the country is easier to immigrate to than most, but it takes 5 years or more. If you’re eligible as a descendant, it takes an average of 6 to 12 months. 
  • Budget-Friendly Citizenship—while ‘golden passports’ require a substantial monetary investment in a foreign country, if you’re eligible through ancestry, you must only pay the passport application fee, postal fees, and any fees associated with gathering, translating, and verifying documents. 

Eligibility Requirements For Ancestral Citizenship in Ireland

If you have parents or grandparents with direct Irish lineage, it unlocks the gateway to your Irish passport. Eligibility for Irish citizenship by descent is straightforward as heritage and lineage remain a priority. 

If either a parent or grandparent was born in Ireland, Northern, Ireland, or Britain, or was a citizen, you have a direct pathway to obtain your second passport. You may also have a pathway if they were born elsewhere but were eligible for citizenship at their time of birth. 

Irish or UK-Eligible Parent

Claiming ancestral citizenship by descent requires ‘entitlement’. Unlike many countries, being born in Ireland doesn’t automatically qualify you as a citizen. This change of entitlement is designed to keep illegal immigration under control. 

If one or both of your parents had Irish, Northern Ireland, or UK citizenship when you were born, your path to citizenship is likely to be easy. For example, if they were born in Ireland and immigrated to the United States where you were born—you’re eligible. Or if they were born in a foreign country and naturalized to Ireland by marriage or other means.

If a qualified parent died before you were born, you’re still eligible. 

Irish or UK-Eligible Grandparent

If your parent was born outside of Ireland but was eligible for citizenship when they were born (through one or both of their parents) you’re also eligible as their grandchild. Be mindful, that just because your grandparents lived in Ireland, they may not have been citizens. You’ll need to check the records of their birth and citizenship status to determine your eligibility. 

Proof of Relationship and Eligibility

Before completing the passport application for ancestral citizenship, you must gather documents that verify your eligibility. Even though English is a native language, you may need to translate some or all of the documents from Gaelic. To claim your citizenship, you must also register your birth in Ireland’s Foreign Births Register.

This may include any combination of:

  • Birth certificates verifying Irish lineage 
  • Marriage certificates 
  • Death certificates 
  • Affidavit verifying the relationship 
  • DNA test results corroborating Irish ancestry 
  • Family tree or records 
  • Official documents reflecting Irish heritage 
  • Historical records linking to Irish ancestry if applicable 

You’ll also need to provide a certified copy of your birth certificate, not the original:

  1. Ensure your birth certificate contains full details, including your parents’ names. 
  2. It must be issued by a qualified authority in your birth country.  
  3. A translation must accompany non-English birth certificates. 
  4. For an Irish-born parent or grandparent, you must produce their original long-form Irish birth certificate. 

All relevant documents are submitted with your application and must be validated by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) for your application to be approved. You’ll also need to verify your personal information for your Irish passport, such as your address, photo, and standard passport information. 

Processing Time and Costs

On average, attaining Irish Citizenship by descent normally takes between 6 and 12 months. However, it can take up to 2 years. It typically takes longer if the documents provided are challenging to verify. 

If you aren’t approved for any reason, the application fee is non-refundable. 

DFA Irish passport fees are as follows:

  • Standard 10-year passport: €75
  • 66-page 10-year passport: €105
  • Passport Card: €35
  • Standard passport + Passport Card: €100
  • 66-page passport + Passport Card: €130
  • 5-year standard passport for those under 18: €20
  • 5-year 66-page passport for those under 18: €50
  • Standard 5-year passport + Passport Card for the under-18: €45
  • 5-year 66-page passport + Passport Card for the under-18: €75


If you’re eligible, Irish citizenship by descent is your birthright! Reach out to JH Marlin  to learn more about dual citizenship.