The Foreign Births Register
Millions of people around the world have Irish ancestry. The Foreign Births Register allows the descendants of Irish people who have moved abroad to claim Irish citizenship. If each generation registers their birth before the next generation is born, then Irish citizenship can be passed from parent to child.
This document explains how the register works, who can apply and how to go about making an application.
Foreign Births Register and COVID-19
The processing of Foreign Birth Registrations is currently suspended because of COVID-19.
Who can become an Irish citizen through the Foreign Births Register?
If you were born in Ireland and you qualify to be an Irish citizen by birth, your child is automatically an Irish citizen by birth, even if the child was born in another country. You do not have to register their birth with the Foreign Births Register. You can simply apply for an Irish passport for your child. You can read more about Irish citizenship by birth.
If you were born outside Ireland, you can become an Irish citizen if:
- One of your grandparents was born in Ireland
- One of your parents was an Irish citizen at the time of your birth, even if they were not born in Ireland. Your parent may have claimed citizenship through the Foreign Births Register themselves, or become a citizen by naturalisation.
In both these cases, you become an Irish citizen by registering your birth with the Foreign Births Register.
Once a person is entered onto the Foreign Births Register they are an Irish citizen and entitled to apply for an Irish passport.
How do I register a birth on the Foreign Births Register?
There are a number of steps you should follow:
Step 1: Before you apply
Check that you are eligible to apply (see ‘Who can become an Irish citizen through the Foreign Births Register?’ above). You can apply for yourself, or for a dependent child. You need an email address to apply.
Step 2: Documents
Check that you have the documents that you need to make an application. You need the following documents for you (or your child if you are applying on their behalf):
- Original civil birth certificate (showing parent’s details)
- Marriage certificate or change of name document (if applicable)
- Certified photocopy of current state-issued identification (passport, drivers licence, national identity card)
- Two proofs of address (not photocopies). If you are applying on behalf of a child, you must also include a letter from the child’s school or doctor
- Four photographs (see ‘Step 5’ below)
- If you are applying on behalf of a child, but you are not the parent of the child, you must include proof of guardianship
You must also provide documents relating to the person you are basing your application on. This will be either your grandparent or parent.
In all cases you should send the Irish citizen’s:
- Original civil birth certificate
- Original marriage certificate or change of name document (if applicable)
- Certified photocopy of current state-issued identification (passport, drivers licence, national identity card) or certified copy of death certificate if they are deceased
If you are applying because your grandparent was born in Ireland, you must also include the documents listed above for your Irish citizen parent.
Other documents that may be needed:
|If your parent became an Irish citizen through||Document Needed|
|The Foreign Births Register||Original Foreign Birth Registration Certificate|
|Post-Nuptial Declaration||Original Post-Nuptial Citizenship Certificate|
|Naturalisation||Original Naturalisation Certificate|
|Adoption (for a parent born abroad)||Original adoption certificate and adoption order|
Step 3 - Complete the online form
Applications must be submitted online on the website of the Department of Foreign Affairs.
When the form is complete, you must submit it electronically and print a paper copy to sign and send.
Step 4 – Pay the fee
You pay online after you complete the form. The fees for foreign birth registration are:
The fee includes a postage and handling charge.
Step 5 – Have your form, photographs and documents witnessed
You must sign the printed copy of your application form in front of a witness who is personally known to you. The witness must be a member of one of the professions listed on dfa.ie.
This witness should also:
- Sign and verify your passport photos. You should submit 4 passport photos with your application. Two of these must be verified. If you are applying on behalf of a child, you must submit passport photos of you and passport photos of the child.
- Stamp the form with their official stamp. You should send a business card if the witness does not have an official stamp.
- Certify that the copy of your state identification is a true copy.
Application processing times
Most applications are normally processed within 6 months.
Complex or incomplete applications can take up to 12 months to complete. You can get current waiting times on the website of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Applications are currently not being processed because of COVID-19. You should expect a delay in processing your application when processing starts again. You can check the DFA website for updates.
What can I do if my application is refused?
If your application is refused and you supplied all the correct documentation, you can appeal the decision. You will get a letter telling you that your application has been refused, and you should write a letter of appeal within 6 weeks of the date of the refusal.
You can also ask to amend or delete an entry in the Foreign Births Register. See ‘Further information and contacts’ below.
Further information and contacts
You can read more about how to appeal or ask for your details to be changed or deleted in the Foreign Births Register on dfa.ie.