Could You Qualify for Dual Citizenship in Ireland? The Answer Might Surprise You
By Melissa Johnson, CG, Dual Citizenship Specialist
In recent years, many Americans and citizens of other nations have gone through the process of applying for Irish dual citizenship. As a European Union member state, Ireland offers many benefits to its citizens, including the right to vote, as well as educational, financial, tax, and business advantages. Additionally, many people become Irish dual citizens for ease of travel and property ownership, for ethnic and cultural reasons, or to pass on citizenship to future children.
Qualifying for Dual Citizenship in Ireland
The Irish Nationality and Citizenship Acts (of 1956, 1986, 1994, 2001 and 2004) set forth laws governing citizenship in Ireland. The 1956 act allowed citizenship by descent for persons who were born outside of Ireland, but descend from Irish citizens. Eligible applicants include (1) any person whose grandparent was born in Ireland; and (2) any person whose parent is an Irish citizen.
In order to qualify under the second category, the applicant’s parent could have become an Irish citizen through several means, including naturalization, adoption, or post-nuptial citizenship, or by going through the process of becoming a dual Irish citizen before their child, the applicant, was born.
Applying for Dual Citizenship
The process for applying for Irish dual citizenship (becoming a citizen of Ireland while maintaining your current citizenship) can be completed mostly online through the Department for Foreign Affairs and Trade. In order to become an Irish citizen, an applicant must first register their birth on the Foreign Births Register. The process involves documenting the descent from an Irish-born grandparent, or from a parent who is an Irish citizen. Individuals whose parents were born in Ireland do not need to go through the same process. Applications for foreign birth registration take about six months to be processed; after the applicant’s birth is registered, they can apply for an Irish passport.
To register a birth on the Foreign Births Register, an applicant must submit their birth certificate, marriage certificate (if applicable), name change documentation (if applicable), and proof of identity. For the applicant’s parent through whom citizenship is being claimed, a birth certificate, marriage certificate(s) (if applicable), and death certificate (if applicable), are also needed. If the applicant’s parent was an Irish citizen, proof of the parent’s citizenship (such as naturalization papers) is needed.
If the applicant is applying based on a grandparent’s birth in Ireland, the grandparent’s Irish birth certificate, marriage certificate(s) (if applicable), and death certificate (if applicable), must be provided.
The records submitted to the Department for Foreign Affairs and trade must be certified, and must be long-form copies. Short-form certificates, such as those often issued by municipalities, are not accepted. U.S. vital records can typically be obtained from the Department of Health or similar agency in the state where the birth, marriage, or death occurred. Each state has different policies and procedures for obtaining records.
In Ireland, the General Register Office (GRO) holds birth, marriage, and death records from 1 January 1864 through 31 December 1921 for all of Ireland, and records from 1 January 1922 to the present for the Republic of Ireland. The GRO also holds marriage records for non-Catholic marriages from 1845. Select years of Ireland’s civil registration indexes are searchable via FamilySearch. Copies of certificates may be ordered online.
In some instances, records may no longer survive or may be difficult to track down. Substitute records, such as baptismal or church matrimonial records, are sometimes accepted in lieu of state vital records. Additionally, discrepancies in records—for example, your grandmother being listed as Bridget on her birth record, but Mary on her marriage record—may require corrections through the record-issuing agency or by a local court.
If you are interested in dual citizenship in Ireland, a professional genealogist or dual citizenship specialist can help with research or help resolve some of these more complicated circumstances.
Melissa Johnson, CG, a dual citizenship specialist and owner of Johnson Genealogy Services, LLC, specializes in preparing dual citizenship applications. She also teaches seminars on Irish and Italian dual citizenship in the New York metropolitan area.