Many people around the world are entitled to Irish citizenship by virtue of their ancestry. Irish Citizenship by descent is a process where Irish citizenship is passed from parent to child. Ireland also allows citizenship to be passed from grandparent to grandchild. The Irish Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform is responsible for determining entitlement to citizenship. Various principles of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Acts were applied from 1956 to 2004. Key to the act is that everyone born on the island of Ireland before January 2005 is automatically entitled to be an Irish citizen. This law also applies to those born in Northern Ireland. Despite the fact that Northern Ireland is a part of the British United Kingdom, the provisions of Irish citizenship apply to those people born anywhere on the island of Ireland.

Under the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Acts, anyone who was not born in Ireland is automatically an Irish citizen by descent provided one parent was an Irish citizen born in Ireland. Anyone born abroad who had a grandparent born in Ireland can become an Irish citizen by application. The Irish Diplomatic or Consular Mission closest to your residence will process a Foreign Births Registration. Applications and instructions are available via the Internet. Each application for dual citizenship by descent is required to include documentation proving the validity of the Irish citizenship request. Birth certificates are required for the applicant, the parent and grandparents which must show citizenship details of the parents. Supporting records may also be necessary such as marriage certificates, name change certificates and other official forms as appropriate. The government of Ireland must be able to verify that there is a birth connection to the country to confirm Irish citizenship. A copy of current passports or identity cards for parents and grandparents is required if they are alive, or official death certificates if not. Women who apply must provide marriage certificates that indicate that their surname has changed. The current passport or identity document of the applicant is required.

For each applicant, the following documents are required:

  • Complete birth certificate that includes citizenship details of parents
  • Marriage certificate (if applicable) that shows the maiden name for married women
  • Copy of current passport or identity document
  • Two photographs of the applicant which are signed and dated a witness
  • Copy of Identification (Identification for children under 18 who do not hold current passports can be a school letter or report from a school attended by the child)
  • Proof of Address
  • The Application form completed in full
  • The Appropriate fee

For the applicant's parent through whom Irish citizenship descends, the following documents are required:

  • Full birth certificate that includes citizenship details of parents
  • Marriage certificate (if applicable) that shows the maiden name for married women
  • Copy of a current passport or identity document. If the parent is deceased, a death certificate
  • If parent has been naturalized or obtained foreign birth registration, original certificates must accompany the application.

For the applicant's grandparent born in Ireland through whom Irish citizenship descends, the following documents are required:

  • Full birth certificate
  • Marriage certificate (if applicable) that shows the maiden name for married women
  • Copy of a current passport or identity document, if the grandparent is alive, or a death certificate;

In certain cases, the Irish government may require additional information to support the application. The applicant is advised to include as much official documentation as possible to positively identify the claim of Irish citizenship to the satisfaction of the Irish government. Having a full documentation record will greatly speed the application for Irish citizenship by descent. If the person to be registered as an Irish citizen by descent is under 18 years, the parent must sign the application form and provide two witness signed photographs as well. Irish birth, marriage and death certificates can be ordered from the Irish General Registrar's Office. Applications for Irish citizenship by descent cannot be sent via email. Only original application forms and documentation are accepted.

American citizens who wish to obtain dual citizenship should be aware of new American security concerns. Foreign influence and foreign preference may present a problem to those who require security clearance for their job. Applying for citizenship of a foreign country and a passport can cause an American to be denied security clearance. This can also apply to people who have naturalized as American citizens. They will be unable to obtain official security clearance until they surrender any passport issued by counties other than the United States. There is a provision that allows dual citizens to apply to the office of Industrial Security Clearance to allow dual citizenship. This has been unsuccessful in the past so dual citizenship for Americans should be carefully considered.

Canadian citizens who wish to obtain Irish dual citizenship are supported by Canadian law. Canada allows citizens to obtain the citizenship of another country without affecting their Canadian citizenship. Dual citizens are able to have rights and obligations for each of the countries for an indefinite period. It is up to the dual citizen to be aware of any issues. Canadian foreign consuls will not be able to act on behalf of a dual Canadian citizen when they are in the country of their dual citizenship. As well, some international treaties may apply to any dual citizen. Canadian citizenship law was different for those born before February 15, 1977. There were limitations on dual citizenship for these Canadians. Many people who became dual citizens before that date could automatically lose their Canadian citizenship. In 2009, however, a new law changed the provision and automatically restored citizenship to many who lost it under the previous citizenship law. The new law also automatically gave citizenship to others who never had it, based on the citizenship of their parents. People who think that such Canadian citizenship issues apply to them should consult the government of Canada to have an official determination made.

Irish dual citizenship can be very helpful to people due to the inclusion of Ireland in the European Community. Irish citizenship grants a person the right to live and work in Ireland or any other country in the European Community.