One of my goals for 2017 was to finally get my Irish citizenship so I could have a European passport and move to the UK. It was a long, stressful process that took almost eleven months, but in the end it was completely worth it. I’m writing this to help anyone who may be thinking about applying or who may be in the process of applying themselves.
Step 1: Eligibility
You are eligible for Irish citizenship if you have one grandparent born in Ireland. It’s basically as simple as that, as long as you are able to prove it. You can check out the exact eligibility requirements on the website HERE.
Lucky for me, both of my dad’s parents were born and raised in Ireland. My grandmother doesn’t speak to us anymore, so I used my ancestry through my grandfather for my application. If you decide to use a female grandparent or parent, it does involve slightly more paperwork because of marriage name changes.
Step 2: Gathering Paperwork [Estimated Time: 1-2 Months]
The most complicated part of the process was probably locating all of the paperwork that I needed. All documents need to be certified original copies, which means sending away for birth certificates and marriage certificates.
From Your Grandparent
Obtaining documents for my grandfather was the most difficult part for me, since he passed away in 2001. I had to send away to Ireland twice for his birth certificate because they initially sent the wrong one. You can get birth certificates from this website
From my grandfather, I ended up needing to collect:
- His original long form birth certificate from Ireland
- His marriage certificate (available from my state’s Registry of Vital Records, $20 per copy)
- His divorce certificate (available from the court where he was divorced, free)
- His death certificate (also available from the Registry of Vital Records, $20)
This part was mainly tedious because I had tried several times to email the courts or to fill out online forms to the registry to have the papers sent to me, but in the end it was fastest and most effective to visit the office in person. If your grandparent is still living, you will need a copy of their passport or current driver’s license instead of a death certificate.
From Your Parent
My father’s father is who I was declaring my lineage through, so I needed to get documents together to prove my father’s heritage. Because he was born to Irish parents, he automatically received citizenship at birth.
From my father, I needed:
- Original copy of birth certificate (From my state’s Registry of Vital Records, $20)
- Original copy of marriage certificate (Luckily, my parents had this at our house and didn’t mind my borrowing it)
- Certified copy of passport and driver’s license (I had this certified by a notary, which can be free but may cost $25. I got my mom’s friend to do it for free)
Gathering my documents was easiest, because I am not married and because I had most of them already.
- Original copy of birth certificate (From the Registry of Vital Records, $20)
- Certified copy of driver’s license and passport
- Two documents, like a phone bill or bank statement, which prove my current address
- Four passport photos that meet the Ireland-specific photo regulations (From the CVS, $14)
Once I had all of these documents together, I made two copies of everything- one for my own records and one to include with the original documents in my application package. They specifically ask for this as you complete your application. The last step is to fill out a form online, print and sign it, and pay a fee of 278 Euros.
Step 3: Registering Your Foreign Birth [Estimated Time: 5 Months]
Before you can apply for a passport, you first have to register your foreign birth with the Irish government. This establishes your citizenship status only. All the documents that I have just described are just your application for registering your foreign birth.
The process was quoted to take about 8-12 weeks when I initially completed my application. Unfortunately, because of the high volume of applications following the Brexit decision, this process now takes about 5-6 months. It is particularly difficult because you can’t check on your status online or by phone. You simply have to be patient and wait.
Almost exactly five months after I sent my paperwork in to Dublin, I received an envelope in the mail which contained my certificate! It arrived the day before my birthday and was a lovely early birthday present.
The last step was to take another set of passport photos and bring these, along with my certificate, a money order of $105, and a paper passport application witnessed by yet another notary to the Irish Consulate.
Step 4: Passport Application [Estimated Time: 5 Months]
The passport paper application is fairly simple, involving simply filling in your personal details. I had to have it witnessed again and this time I had my friend’s boyfriend, who is a police officer, do it. I had to also include his business card (trust me, they won’t accept the application without this, for whatever reason.) The Consulate has a very small window of opening hours, so be sure to check carefully when they will be in the office.
This was the most excruciating part of the process, since I had a deadline for when I was moving to the UK and I needed my passport to arrive before I left. When I turned in my application to the Irish Consulate in Boston, they quoted me 12-14 weeks for my passport to arrive. It was June, which meant I should have my passport some time in September. I had flights to England on October 12, as I said earlier.
Unfortunately, 14 weeks came and went, and I still had no passport. I hadn’t written down my passport number from the paper application (PRO TIP: WRITE DOWN YOUR APPLICATION NUMBER), so I had no way of tracking the application online either. I just had to wait patiently and hope for the best.
By October 12, I still had no passport, so I moved to England using my American passport and a not-very-believable lie that I was just visiting some friends and was a heavy packer. I booked a flight to Dublin on November 14, so I had some proof to show the customs agent that I was leaving England at some point.
My passport arrived to my parent’s house in Massachusetts about a week before my trip. My stress was at an all-time high, because now I was living and also working in England and needed to prove my legality ASAP. My mom is a trooper and spent an exorbitant amount of money to get my passport to England as fast as possible.
On November 13, literally ONE DAY before I left for Ireland, my passport arrived at my doorstep in England. I have never been so relieved and elated. After nearly an entire year, I could finally rest easy and enjoy my new status as a European!