Dual Citizenship: US and Ireland

April 28th, 2012 by Paul O'Brien

Today, more than 30 million United States citizens claim Irish ancestry. If the idea of honoring, by officially claiming that ancestry through Irish citizenship, sounds appealing, read on. Including birth, marriage, residency, and descent, citizenship by descent is what most US citizens of Irish ancestry mean when they consider dual citizenship. Citizenship with the Republic of Ireland starts by registering your birth in the Irish Register of Foreign Births.

To do that, briefly, you establish your lineage to your Irish-born parent or grandparent.

The first step is to request an application and fact sheet from your nearest Irish embassy or consulate; or at the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin if you are living in Ireland. Make sure you deal with the embassy for the region in which you live.

Dual Irish – American Citizenship

Retaining your American citizenship and rights, citizens of Ireland are free to live and work in any member country of the European Union (EU); no residence or work permit necessary. If you decide to work in the EU, you become eligible for unemployment compensation, health insurance and pension rights.More, and perhaps more valuable to most, as a dual citizen, you may purchase property in any country of the EU, travel freely throughout, and enjoy the sights of France, England, Germany, the Netherlands and all of the other member nations.It is worth noting though that I’m addressing dual citizenship with the United States because while Ireland allows dual citizenship with other nations freely, not every nation allows it’s citizens to become dual citizens. Consider this the consideration for United States citizens and apply some of the process here to your country if you’ve determined that you too can apply.

By the way, this is only a helpful resource; when dealing with Citizenship questions and immigration, the laws are complex so contact your local Irish embassy

Irish Citizenship through Descent

If you were born in the Republic of Ireland, to Irish parents, then, like in the United States, you are an Irish citizen by descent.

If you were born outside of Ireland and either one of your parents was an Irish citizen at the time of your birth, then you are automatically an Irish citizen (supposedly though there are exceptions).

Did you know, a child born to a US citizen outside of the United States is not automatically a US citizen? It’s true! The parents, on behalf of the child, need to file form N-600, “Application for Certificate of citizenship,” with USCIS. Citizenship through descent by Irish parents is comparatively easy as it applies regardless your place of birth, or even if your parents were alive or married at the time of your birth.

Granted, not many of us are in that position; here’s why dual citizenship with Ireland is such a popular topic for United States citizens of Irish ancestry: You are still eligible to claim Irish citizenship if any one of your grandparents was born in Ireland.

Ireland’s Foreign Births Register

Before you can claim Irish citizenship, you must have your birth registered in the Foreign Births Register which is maintained by the Department of Foreign Affairs.

All applicants for Foreign Births Registration need to complete either application form FB1A, if they are over 18 years old, or FB1B, for those under 18. The application must be filled out correctly, witnessed, and you’ll need to supply the following supporting documents:

Documents relating to your grandparent(s)

  • Grandparent’s full, long form birth certificate (showing all names, ages and places of birth)
  • Grandparent’s marriage license or certificate
  • Grandparent’s current official photo ID (if living) or death certificate (if deceased)

Documents relating to your parent(s)

  • Parent’s full, long form birth certificate (showing all names, ages and places of birth)
  • Parent’s marriage license or certificate
  • Parent’s current official photo ID (if living) or death certificate (if deceased)

Document’s relating to you, the applicant

  • Your full, long form birth certificate (showing all names, ages and places of birth)
  • Your marriage license or certificate (if applicable) and any document related to change of name
  • Two recent passport type photographs signed and dated by witness (same witness as application)
  • Notarized copy of current US passport (if held)
  • Notarized copies of three proofs of identity including at least one photo ID
  • Copy of bank statement or utility bill with your present address

If the applicant is under 18, the applicant’s parent or legal guardian must provide passport photos, notarized copy of US passport and the three proofs of identity in the same manner as the applicant.

Bring all of those documents, and the registration fee, to the nearest Irish Diplomatic or Consular Mission. Details about current fee and acceptable forms of payment can be obtained from the Foreign Birth Register.

Sent to the Foreign Births Register, you’ll receive a certificate confirming that your birth has been recorded. This certificate can be used as proof of Irish citizenship when applying for an Irish passport.  The process can take up to a year and a half so plan ahead and be patient. Applying for an Irish passport requires additional time, depending on the amount of passport applications at the consulate.

Official documents must be original, or official copies from the issuing authority. All supporting documents must be original or notarized copies (spend time considering this as some of your documents should be sent as notarized copies and not the originals: passport, driver’s licenses, and important IDs). Send a copy of all the documents and an ample sized self addressed envelope for the return of the originals.

People are easily troubled by the process and the prospect of obtaining a copy of their grandparent’s Irish documentation. Not only is the entire process prone to change, again, make sure you check with your embassy, consulate, and Ireland’s Foreign Births Registration and don’t consider this concrete direction, but your genealogy can be cumbersome. Head to our forums to get some support for everyone else and possibly connect with a genealogist who can help. Otherwise, contact your state or local historical society for a referral to such support.

11 Responses to “Dual Citizenship: US and Ireland”

  • Christopher O'Brien Says:


    If my ancestry that came from Ireland is actually several generations back, can I still apply for citizenship as a “foreign birth” ?

    Thanks for your time and help.

    Christopher O’Brien


    Paul O'Brien Reply:

    I don’t believe so Christopher though I’m still trying to figure out if that’s possible myself. I’m a few back too.


    Roscrea53 Reply:

    I don’t see how that can be. You yourself would have to have been born in Ireland to be of “foreign birth”. Check this site out: http://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/moving_country/irish_citizenship

    Type the whole address out to go directly to the particular info.


    KathyOB Reply:

    I think you can only go back as far as a grandparent.. But, i could be wrong


  • jc Says:

    “Today, more than 300 million United States citizens”, typo? I think you mean 30 million. Heheh, I know everyone in the USA wants to be part Irish on St Patricks Day.


    Paul O'Brien Reply:

    Hah! Oops, thanks JC. Though I’m sure it could be said that every American wishes a claim of to Irish ancestry. Fixed!


  • Lesley Says:

    hi my husband is the only one in the family who hasnt obtain his dual citizenship is it still possible through grandparents?


  • KathyOB Says:

    My dad’s from clare and i just recieved his birth certificate from Ireland so what the process to to get a duel citizenship?


  • Laura Says:

    You can only go back to your grandparent.
    Take a look here; http://www.dfa.ie/home/index.aspx?id=88044

    If your parent was born in Ireland, you are automatically an Irish citizen just by birth. You just need to register by proving your parent was born in Ireland.
    Under the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Acts, 1956 to 2004, a person who was born outside Ireland is automatically an Irish citizen by descent if one of that person’s parents was an Irish citizen who was born in Ireland.

    If your grandparent was born in Ireland, that automatically makes your parent a citzen (whether they are registered or not) which means you then can become one. You just have to prove your grandparent was born in Ireland.
    You need birth certificates, marriage licenses, current ID or death certificates. Fill out the paperwork and wait for the registration to come through. When it does you can apply for a passport.


  • bfn4sfz Says:

    Both of my grandparenst were born in Ireland but I can only get the baptismal records for myy O’brien grandmother from co Clare. I know the parish and when and who she came over with. But I can not find birth record. Any suggesttions of who to get in contact with? I would love to get dual citizenship too. Does that make my children or sisters citizens too if I get it?


  • Kelly Says:

    My daughter was born/resides in the US, her father is an irish born Citizen. I’d like to get her Irish Citizenship, what is the process of doing that?


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