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

  1. Adam says:

    Thank you for making your experience available here. It’s a very helpful resource. I’m in the process (anyone else find that marriage records from New York City are much harder to get than birth or death records? – this seems strange to me).

  2. Maureen Nantista says:

    Do I need apostilles if I have NYC birth, death and marriage certificates with raised seals? I’ve already obtained the long form of my grandparent’s Irish birth record. Thanks.

  3. Bill says:

    Hi Maureen, I did my citizenship application over 10 years ago. I got the apostilles for my records from RI. I don’t know if it is required.

  4. Bill says:

    Adam, maybe Maureen can help? Sounds like she is getting the same records from NYC. I got all my records from RI.

  5. Angela says:

    My husband and I have finished our applications and required documentation (wasn’t real clean since my grandparents applied for a marriage license but never completed the license after getting married, so no certified copy was available!!). It has all been mailed to Dublin and I assume it was all received. Do we just wait 16-18 months now? Or will we hear anything from them prior to that. Seems like such a long time to wait! Thanks.

  6. Bill says:

    Hi Angela, my brother did this last year about this time and it was much faster than that. Then he got his Irish passport.

    Check your email in case they find any problems. Other than that, it is a waiting game.

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