Irish citizenship through birth or descent

Introduction

If you or your parents were born in Ireland, or if you were adopted in Ireland, you may be an Irish citizen by birth.

If you are not entitled to Irish citizenship by birth, you may be able to become an Irish citizen by registering your birth on the Foreign Births Register, or by applying for naturalisation.

You can read about citizenship law in Ireland.

Who is an Irish citizen by birth?

You are entitled to be an Irish citizen by birth if you fall into one of the categories below.

1. Born in Ireland before 1 January 2005

If you were born in Ireland before 1 January 2005, you are an Irish citizen by birth.

If you were born in Northern Ireland before 1 January 2005, you are entitled to claim Irish citizenship. This means that you can choose to be an Irish citizen and apply for an Irish passport if you want to.

2. Born in Ireland after 31 December 2004

The people of Ireland voted to change the constitutional right to citizenship in the 27th Amendment to the Irish Constitution. This ended the automatic entitlement to citizenship by birth to everyone born in Ireland.

If you are born on or after 1 January 2005, your entitlement to Irish citizenship depends on the nationality or residence history of your parent or parents.

Irish or UK parent

If either of your parents was an Irish or UK citizen at the time of your birth, you are automatically an Irish citizen if you were born in Ireland. If you were born in Northern Ireland to an Irish or British parent, you can choose to be an Irish citizen.

If your Irish or UK citizen parent died before you were born, you are an Irish citizen by birth.

Parent from outside Ireland and UK

If you were born in Ireland on or after 1 January 2005 and neither of your parents were Irish or UK citizens, your entitlement to Irish citizenship by birth depends on your parents’ residence status and history.

One of your parents must have:

  • Lived in Ireland or Northern Ireland for 3 out of the 4 years before you were born or
  • Have the right to live in Ireland or Northern Ireland without any restriction on their period of residence

Only reckonable residence is counted towards the 3 out of 4 years needed. This does not include periods spent in Ireland on a student visa or while waiting for a decision on an international protection application.

If you or your child were born in Ireland after 31 December 2004 and do not qualify as an Irish citizen by birth, you can apply for citizenship by naturalisation after you (and the child) have completed five years of residence in Ireland.

3. Born outside Ireland to an Irish parent

If you were born outside of Ireland, you are automatically an Irish citizen by birth if either one of your parents was born in Ireland and was entitled to Irish citizenship.

4. Born in Ireland with no right to citizenship of another country

If none of the above applies to you and you were born in Ireland, but you are not entitled to citizenship of any other country, you are an Irish citizen by birth.

Irish citizenship when you are born abroad

If either of your parents was born in Ireland and was an Irish citizen at the time of your birth, you are automatically an Irish citizen by birth.

If the parent through whom you are entitled to Irish citizenship was deceased at the time of your birth, but would have been an Irish citizen if alive at that time, you are also an Irish citizen.

Irish citizen parent born outside Ireland

If you were born outside of Ireland and your parent (who was also born outside of Ireland) was an Irish citizen or entitled to be an Irish citizen at the time of your birth, then you are entitled to become an Irish citizen.

To claim Irish citizenship, you must have your birth registered in the Foreign Births Register, unless your parent was abroad in the public service at the time of your birth. If you are entitled to register, your Irish citizenship is effective from the date of registration – not from the date when you were born.

Citizenship through descent from Irish grandparent

If one of your grandparents was born in Ireland, but neither of your parents was born in Ireland, you may become an Irish citizen. You will need to have your birth registered in the Foreign Births Register.

The following table may help to explain the situation:

If you are: Then you are:
A Born in the island of Ireland on or before 31 December 2004 Entitled to Irish citizenship or you are an Irish citizen
B Born on the island of Ireland on or after 1 January 2005

Entitled to Irish citizenship if one or both of your parents:

  • Is Irish
  • Is British or entitled to live in Northern Ireland or the Irish State without restriction on their residency
  • Is a foreign national legally resident in the island of Ireland for 3 out of 4 years immediately prior to your birth
C Child of A, born outside the island of Ireland An Irish citizen
D Child of C and a grandchild of A, born outside the island of Ireland Entitled to Irish citizenship, but you must first register in the Foreign Births Register
E a child of D and a great-grandchild of A, born outside the island of Ireland Entitled to Irish citizenship, by having your birth registered in the Foreign Births Register, but only if your parent D had registered by the time of your birth.

Other Irish ancestors

Unless at least one parent or an Irish-born grandparent was an Irish citizen at the time of your birth, you have no automatic right to Irish citizenship on the basis of extended previous ancestry (that is, ancestors other than your parents or grandparents). In addition, you cannot claim Irish citizenship on the basis that a relation such as a cousin, aunt or uncle was an Irish citizen if none of your parents or grandparents was an Irish citizen at the time of your birth.

You can, however, apply for citizenship based on Irish associations, which is at the discretion of the Minister. Irish association means that you are related by blood or through adoption to an Irish citizen.

If you are considering making an application based on Irish descent or association, you should note the following:

  • You should have a reasonable period of legal residence in Ireland (at least 3 years) to show that you have a connection to Ireland.
  • Applications based on descent from an Irish citizen going further back than a great-grandparent are generally refused.
  • Applications based on being the parent or grandparent of an Irish citizen (by ‘ascent’), or the brother or sister of an Irish citizen are generally refused.
  • Applications based on Irish descent or associations can take up to 30 months to process.

You can read more about applying for citizenship based on Irish descent or associations on the ISD website.

You can use the online tool on the Immigration Service Delivery website to check if you are an Irish citizen by birth or decent.

Irish citizenship through adoption

Under the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, if a child who is not an Irish citizen is adopted by an Irish citizen or a couple where either spouse is an Irish citizen, then the adopted child shall be an Irish citizen.

If an Irish citizen who is living abroad adopts a child abroad, they should apply for the adoption to be entered in the Register of Intercountry Adoptions. Once it is registered, the adoption has the same legal status as if the adoption was made in the State.

If an Irish citizen living in the State is in the process of having a foreign adoption recognised here, certain immigration procedures must be observed. In order for the adopted child to enter the State, you must get immigration clearence in advance from the Department of Justice. This clearance will only be granted once the adoptive parent(s) proposing to adopt abroad have successfully completed the assessment procedure and have had a declaration made in their favour by the Adoption Authority of Ireland. This is called an intercountry adoption.

Citizenship through special declaration

Some people may claim Irish citizenship by making a declaration. They include:

  • A person born on the island of Ireland between 2 December 1999 and 31 December 2004 to a foreign national who at the time of that person's birth was entitled to diplomatic immunity within the State (for example, a foreign ambassador)
  • A person between 2 December 1999 and 31 December 2004 born in Irish sea or air space to a foreign national on a foreign ship or in a foreign aircraft
  • A person born on the island of Ireland who has made a declaration of alienage under Section 21 of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956 (that is, a person who has declared that they are no longer an Irish citizen). Such a person can resume Irish citizenship by making a declaration using form 1 (pdf).

These forms are available from Immigration Service Delivery or your nearest Irish embassy or consular office.

Further information and contacts

If you are entitled to citizenship by birth you can apply for an Irish passport. You can read about:

If you were born abroad and your grandparents were born in Ireland, or your parent or parents are Irish citizens who were not born in Ireland, you can read about how to claim Irish citizenship through the Foreign Births Register.

If you are not an Irish citizen by birth and you live in Ireland, you can read about how to qualify for Irish citizenship by naturalisation.

To apply for a passport aboard, contact your nearest Irish embassy or consulate

Department of Foreign Affairs

Foreign Births Register

Consular Section
80 St Stephen's Green
Dublin 2
Ireland

Opening Hours: Monday to Friday, 10am - 1pm
Tel: +353 1 408 2555

Citizenship Division

Department of Justice Office

Rosanna Road
Tipperary Town
Tipperary
E34 N566
Ireland

Opening Hours: Helpline: 10:00 am -12:30 pm, Tuesdays and Thursdays only
Tel: +353 62 32500
Locall: 1890 252 854
Page edited: 10 March 2021