Obtaining dual citizenship – U.S. and Ireland

The United States allows dual citizenship with numerous countries, including Ireland.  A few years ago I found out Ireland offers citizenship by descent.  It is called “Citizenship through Foreign Births Registration (FBR)”.  The background work took me a couple of months and the whole process cost a few hundred dollars.  The FBR application took about 16-18 months to process.  I received my dual citizenship in May 2007.  I then applied for an Irish passport which I received in August 2007.

The rules:

One can become an Irish citizen by descent even if your parents were not Irish citizens.  If one of your grandparents was an Irish citizen you can apply for entry in the Foreign Births Register.  There is no requirement that you have ever stepped on Irish soil.  Since 1986, citizenship only takes effect as of the date of registration so any children born prior to your becoming a citizen are not automatically also citizens.

You need three forms of identification for your grandparent.  I sent in information for both my grandfather and grandmother just in case.  I used their Irish birth certificates, marriage certificate, and death certificates.  All these records can be obtained through contact information on the Internet.


I was interested in genealogy and had created a fairly extensive record of my family history in the Family Tree Maker tool based on the research my parents had done.  My father made copies of my grandparents’ birth records on a visit to Ireland but I never paid much attention to the details.  I decided to pursue Irish citizenship for the following reasons:

1. After my father died, I rekindled my interest in my family history.  I realized I could no longer get first hand answers to my questions and my children would have little hope of finding information if I did not document it.

2. I thought it would be easier to travel in Europe with an EU passport.  I found that to be true on a number of occasions, especially on a trip to London where my wife and I bypassed a long line at Heathrow.

3. I assumed this would be an advantage if I ever wanted to work in Ireland or somewhere else in Europe.

4. I thought it was something interesting to pursue.

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105 Responses to Obtaining dual citizenship – U.S. and Ireland

  1. Bill says:

    Hi Kyle, I don’t know of any downside like you are asking. However, I am no expert so you should probably do some more checking to get a better opinion than mine.

  2. gretchen says:

    I have everything but the marriage certificate of my Irish grandmother and I have searched extensively with no luck. I have no idea where or when they got married so I had to guess I searched several counties over 10 years around the year of my dad’s birth, with no luck. You would think my lineage would be proven by the birth cerificates but, for some reason, that is not enough. If anyone has any suggestions…..

  3. Bill says:

    Have you called to see if there is something else that would be accepted? Cork office (if you live in Munster) Tel: 021 494 4763 (10am – 1pm)
    Our Dublin office (if you live elsewhere in Ireland) Tel: 01 408 2555 (10am – 1pm). Maybe they could help you?

  4. chris tierney says:

    i was wondering if Ireland would make exceptions in cases of possible Olympic athletes. My great great grandparents where from Ireland and my son in a professional snowboarder in the US and i wanted to see if that is even a possibility of gaining a dual citizenship to give him that option if he ever wanted it..thanks for any inormation

  5. Bill says:

    I don’t know. I suppose it is possible, but the normal rules would say no. Great Great grandparents are quite far removed.

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