November 10, 2023

How to get an Irish Passport through your ancestry if you are British

Are you a UK citizen exploring the possibility of obtaining an Irish passport through ancestry? If so, understanding this pathway to citizenship can open doors to numerous opportunities, especially in the post-Brexit era.

An Irish passport through ancestry is a powerful tool, offering the dual benefits of Irish and European Union citizenship. This concept hinges on the principle of jus sanguinis, or ‘right of blood’, allowing individuals with Irish heritage – typically through parents or grandparents – to claim Irish citizenship.

For UK citizens in the wake of Brexit, the significance of this option cannot be overstated. Holding an Irish passport not only solidifies your connection to your Irish heritage but also reinstates your freedom of movement within the EU.

This means continued access to work, live, and travel in EU member states – a privilege that has become even more valuable post-Brexit.

If you’re curious about how your Irish roots can pave the way for a new spectrum of opportunities, this introduction will guide you through the essentials of obtaining an Irish passport through ancestry.

Eligibility for Irish Citizenship by Ancestry

As you consider the possibility of obtaining Irish citizenship through your ancestry, it’s crucial to understand the eligibility criteria. Irish citizenship by descent is not just a formality; it’s a tangible link to your heritage and a gateway to the benefits of being an EU citizen.

General Eligibility Criteria

First, let’s define what descent Irish citizenship means in this context. To be eligible, you must have a direct lineage to someone born in Ireland. This includes either your parents or grandparents. However, simply having Irish ancestors isn’t enough. There are specific requirements that need to be met.

Your eligibility primarily hinges on your ancestors’ status at the time of your birth. If they were Irish citizens, either by birth or naturalization, at your birth, you have a claim to citizenship.

Additionally, your birth must obtain a Foreign Birth Registration Certificate – a crucial step in formalizing your citizenship [1].

Specific Cases of Eligibility

  1. Born outside of Ireland to an Irish citizen parent – If you were born outside Ireland to an Irish parent, you’re in a unique position. You are automatically considered an Irish citizen from birth (one of your parents must have lived. in Ireland or Northern Ireland for 4 years before you were born). The key here is ensuring that your birth is registered in the Irish Foreign Births Register.
  2. Having an Irish-born grandparent – If your connection to Ireland is through a grandparent born in Ireland, you’re also eligible for citizenship. However, the process is slightly more complex, as you must first register your birth in the Foreign Births Register.
  3. Irish citizenship through adoption – Under the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956 [2], an adopted person can be entitled to Irish citizenship if they have at least one biological parent who is an Irish citizen. The adoption must also follow specific legal requirements.

Documents Required

Once you’ve determined your eligibility, the next step is gathering the necessary documents. These include:

  • Proof of lineage – This could be your birth certificate, your parent’s or grandparent’s birth certificate, or marriage certificate.
  • Proof of Irish citizenship – If your ancestor was an Irish citizen by descent, you must provide evidence of this through naturalization or registration papers.
  • Proof of identity – You will need to provide a valid government-issued ID, such as a passport, driver’s license, or national identification card.

Other documents may be required depending on your specific situation. These could include adoption papers, proof of name changes, etc. It is best to consult with the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) [3] to ensure you have all the required documents.

Benefits of an Irish Passport

Holding an Irish passport comes with a suite of advantages that extend beyond mere travel convenience. As you delve into the prospect of acquiring Irish citizenship through ancestry, it’s important to understand the broader benefits this decision can bring.

Advantages of Irish Citizenship

EU Citizenship and its Benefits

By securing an Irish passport, you’re not just becoming a citizen of Ireland; you’re also gaining EU citizenship. This status opens up a world of opportunities, including the freedom to live, work, and travel across the European Union.

In practical terms, this means access to job markets, educational institutions, and healthcare systems across all EU member states.

In a post-Brexit world, where UK citizens face restrictions in these areas, an Irish passport stands as a key to the European continent, offering mobility and flexibility that is now more valuable than ever.

Dual Citizenship: Holding Irish and UK Citizenship Simultaneously

One of the most appealing aspects of Irish citizenship for UK citizens is the ability to hold dual citizenship. This means you can enjoy the benefits of being both a UK and an Irish citizen without having to renounce your original nationality.

This dual status allows you to maintain your ties to the UK while expanding your rights and privileges within the EU. It’s a unique advantage that enables you to navigate both worlds with ease, enjoying a sense of belonging and access to resources in both the UK and the EU.

The Application Process: Step-by-Step Guide

Step #1: Gather Documentation:

  • Collect your birth certificate.
  • Obtain your Irish ancestor’s birth certificate (parent or grandparent).
  • Provide proof of your relationship to your Irish ancestor (e.g., your parent’s birth certificate if applying through an Irish grandparent).
  • If applicable, include your marriage certificate or any other legal documents indicating a change of name or nationality.

Step #2: Foreign Births Registration:

  • If applying through a grandparent, register your birth with the Foreign Births Register.
  • This step is crucial as it formally recognizes your claim to Irish citizenship.
  • The registration for the application form can be completed online or at the nearest Irish embassy or consulate.

Step #3: Understand the Process Timeline and Fees:

  • Be aware that the processing time can vary, typically taking several months.
  • Plan accordingly, especially if you have impending travel plans.
  • Familiarize yourself with the fees associated with the registration and application process, which can differ based on the nature of your application and the processing location.
  • Keep in mind that these fees are subject to change, so always check the most current information from official sources.

Following these steps methodically will help streamline your application process for an Irish passport through ancestry.

Legal and Advisory Support

  1. Role of Legal Advisors – Navigating the intricacies of citizenship applications can be complex. This is where legal advisors or immigration specialists play a crucial role. They offer expert guidance through the process, ensuring that you meet all the requirements and that your application is complete and accurate.
  2. Importance of Accurate and Complete Application Submission – The accuracy and completeness of your application are paramount. Mistakes or omissions can lead to delays or even rejections. A legal advisor can help review your application, advise on any potential issues, and ensure that everything is in order before submission.

Common Challenges and Solutions

Navigating the path to obtaining an Irish passport through ancestry can present challenges, but being prepared and knowing how to address these obstacles can make the process smoother and more manageable.

Let’s explore some common challenges you might encounter and practical solutions to overcome them.

Addressing Common Obstacles

Dealing with Missing Documents:

  • Contact Civil Registration Offices: If essential documents like birth certificates are missing, your first step should be to contact civil registration offices in Ireland or the UK.
  • Use Genealogical Services: For help in tracing Irish ancestry and locating records, consider employing genealogical services or professional researchers.
  • Start Early: Begin this process well in advance, as obtaining historical documents can be time-consuming.

Overcoming Bureaucratic Hurdles:

  • Maintain a Checklist: Keep a detailed checklist of all required steps and documents to stay organized and on track.
  • Seek Clarification When Needed: If you face confusion or roadblocks, contact the Irish embassy or consulate for guidance. Clear communication can help resolve procedural uncertainties.
  • Exercise Patience: Understand that bureaucratic processes can be slow. Set realistic expectations for timelines to avoid unnecessary stress.

Tips for a Smooth Application

  1. Thoroughly review all your documents for accuracy and completeness before submission.
  2. Ensure all copies are legible and correctly certified if required.
  3. Pay close attention to names, dates, and places to avoid inconsistencies that can lead to delays.
  4. Strictly adhere to the specific guidelines provided for each step in the application process.
  5. If uncertain about any aspect of the process, consult the official guidelines from the Irish government or seek advice from legal or immigration experts.
  6. Incorporate processing times into your planning, particularly if you have upcoming travel or other time-sensitive obligations.
  7. Apply well in advance of any planned travel to reduce the stress of waiting for your passport.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a British Citizen Hold an Irish Passport?

Absolutely, British citizens can hold an Irish passport if they are eligible through Irish ancestry. This involves having a parent or grandparent born in Ireland. Dual citizenship is permitted, allowing individuals to hold both British and Irish passports simultaneously.

How Long Does it Take to Process an Irish Passport Application Through Ancestry?

The processing time for an Irish passport application through ancestry can vary. Typically, it takes several months. However, the exact duration depends on the specific circumstances of each application and the current processing times at the application centers. 

How Much Does An Irish Passport Application Cost?

The cost of an Irish passport application through ancestry varies. Fees are associated with registering in the Foreign Births Register and the passport application itself. These fees can change, so it’s advisable to check the latest charges on the official Irish government or consulate websites.


In conclusion, obtaining Irish citizenship through ancestry is a valuable opportunity for UK citizens to connect with their Irish heritage and enjoy the benefits of EU membership post-Brexit.

This path not only honors ancestral roots but also offers practical advantages, such as freedom of movement within the EU.

While the process requires attention to detail, it is a rewarding pursuit for those with Irish ancestry. It’s more than just acquiring a passport; it’s about embracing a dual identity and expanding global horizons.

If you have Irish heritage, consider this opportunity to affirm your identity and broaden your access on a global scale. Use the insights from this article to embark on this journey and embrace the benefits of your Irish lineage. Follow our sister site which will soon be listing wait times for UK citizens applying for an Irish Passport.

Sources –

  1. Department of Foreign Affairs. Foreign Birth Registration/Citizenship – Department of Foreign Affairs. Published 2017. Accessed November 9, 2023.
  2. electronic Irish Statute Book (eISB). Published 2023. Accessed November 10, 2023.
  3. Home – Immigration Service Delivery. Immigration Service Delivery. Published August 25, 2023. Accessed November 10, 2023.

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