Your Irish Family Could Get You Irish Citizenship

Did you know you may be able to use your Irish family to gain citizenship in Ireland? Ireland has some of the most liberal citizenship guidelines around, and it may be easier than you think to get citizenship. There are plenty of benefits to doing so if you’re eligible, including the right to carry an Irish passport (one of the most coveted travel documents in the world). If you have Irish ancestry and are interested in pursuing citizenship, here’s what you need to know.

Birth is the easiest way to gain citizenship in Ireland. The current law there states that anyone born in Ireland is entitled to Irish citizenship if he or she is not already entitled to citizenship of another country. Also, anyone who has one or more parents who are Irish citizens is also automatically an Irish citizen, regardless of place of birth.

Then, of course, there are the usual ways of gaining citizenship in any country, such as naturalization, seeking asylum, and through adoption.

However, the method of gaining citizenship we’re the most interested in is through Irish family. This is known as citizenship by descent, and is used by anyone who wasn’t born in Ireland and who does not have at least one native-born Irish parent.
Ireland allows anyone who has a grandparent with Irish citizenship to claim citizenship, too. Since having an Irish grandparent means one of your parents was an Irish citizen through them, you can easily register as a citizen yourself through the Foreign Births Register. If you had a great-grandparent who was an Irish citizen, things get a little trickier, but citizenship may still be possible for you.

In order to claim Irish citizenship through a great-grandparent, one of your parents should have already claimed citizenship through that particular ancestor (since your great-grandparent would be your parent’s grandparent, and therefore easier for your parent to claim citizenship). Once your parent has Irish citizenship, you can claim it yourself through your parent. However, this will only work if you were born AFTER your parent registered as an Irish citizen through his or her grandparent. Ireland will not allow you to claim citizenship if you were born BEFORE your parent registered.

Anyone with an Irish citizen grandparent born in the island of Ireland can easily claim Irish citizenship. His or her parent would have automatically been an Irish citizen and their own citizenship can be secured by registering themselves as in the Foreign Births Register. In contrast, those wishing to claim citizenship through an Irish citizen great-grandparent may be easily frustrated if their parents were not registered in the Foreign Births Register. Their parents can only transmit Irish citizenship to children born after they themselves were registered and not to any children born before registration.

Citizenship acquired through descent may be maintained indefinitely so long as each generation ensures its registration before the birth of the next.

In practice, it is possible for each succeeding generation to claim Irish citizenship through Irish family indefinitely, as long as each generation registers for citizenship prior to the birth of the next generation. So, if you have Irish grandparents or great-grandparents, now’s the time to start pursuing citizenship if you’re eligible and want to claim it. Then, you can officially belong to the land of your Irish ancestors!


  1. kenny August 15, 2010
  2. Katie McNamara June 28, 2009

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