How to get an Irish passport
Or why you need to be nice to your Irish grandparents!
An Irish passport is one of the most sought-after travel documents in the world.
I have both Irish and English citizenship and have always used the Irish passport in preference.
It's kitschy but true; being Irish is seen as being more, well, likeable or something.
The easiest way to get an Irish passport of course is to be born in Ireland.
But, if you drew the short straw on that one, you're going to need an Irish parent or an Irish grandparent.
If you have an Irish great-grandparent you need to satisfy the following requirements;
There are two circumstances under which a great-grandchild is eligible to apply for Irish citizenship by descent:
- If the parent (the grandchild of the Irish born person) registered before the great-grandchild was born; or
- If the parent (the grandchild of the Irish born person) registered before the 30th June 1986 and the great-grandchild was born after 17 July 1956.
The Irish Consulate in New York explained that the parent would need to be registered in the "Foreign Birth Register" which is held at the Consulate, effectively a listing of those of Irish citizens born abroad who are entitled to Irish citizenship who have their births "registered."
Meanwhile, Ireland’s Prime Minister Brian Cowen has indicated that he would favor relaxing naturalization laws and allowing Americans whose nearest Irish relative is a great-grandparent to claim citizenship, provided they have spent some time either working or studying in Ireland. So watch this space.
A practical use of an Irish passport is that you will be entitled to work and travel freely in any of the 27 countries in the European Union.
You won’t need a work permit for this – and once you have worked in a European Union county for a certain length of time, you will be entitled to unemployment compensation, health care and pension rights.
How else then can you get an Irish passport? Getting a passport is really the easy part – it’s getting Irish citizenship that takes a little time.
Born in Ireland
To get an Irish passport, you must first become an Irish citizen. Fortunately, Americans can hold dual citizenship, as can Irish, so there’s no conflict there.
Let’s look at the scenarios that allow you to claim Irish citizenship.
Anyone born in Ireland before January 1, 2005 is an Irish citizen. After that date, it is not automatic, and the citizenship and residency history of both parents is taken into account.
Marriage to Irish citizen
You are also entitled to Irish citizenship if you are married to an Irish citizen.
To claim citizenship by marriage, you must meet the following conditions: you must be married to an Irish citizen for at least three years; you must have had one year of "continuous residence" on the island of Ireland immediately before the date of your application; and finally, you must have been living on the island of Ireland for at least two of the four years before that year of continuous residence.