1 The Cost of Dual Citizenship | The Billfold

The Cost of Dual Citizenship


There are 34 million people of Irish heritage currently living in the United States, and for those of us whose parents or grandparents were Irish citizens, it’s possible to claim Irish citizenship by proving legitimate descent. Being a dual citizen is a fun fact to dish out at parties, but it also makes it easy to work and live abroad—in my case, throughout the EU.

I successfully applied for Irish citizenship last year. Here’s what it cost me:


Ireland requires long-form birth, marriage, and death certificates (if applicable) for the applicant (me), the Irish citizen through whom you claim citizenship (my paternal grandfather), and the family member linking the two of you (my father). While my grandfather was still alive one of my cousins got a copy of his birth certificate from Ireland, which made getting the rest of the documents much easier. I’ve found that dealing with state registrars is an expensive but easy online process, and dealing with local registrars/clerks is a cheap but time-consuming mail-order/in-person process. You can’t have it all!

• New York State long-form birth certificate, me: $53
• New York State long-form birth certificate, father: $45
• Local marriage certificate, parents: $25
• New York State marriage certificate, grandparents: $45
• Local death certificate, grandfather: $15
• Coffee and bagels to thank my father for coming with me to order said death certificate in person: $11

Subtotal: $194
Timeline: 3 months


Application Fees
Applications are entered online, then printed, witnessed, and mailed off along with all of your supporting documents. Read the witness fine print carefully—whomever you choose must be a lawyer/police officer/member of the clergy (woo, Irish values!) and know you and your Irish relative, but cannot be related to either of you. Luckily one of my dad’s childhood friends is a lawyer, so I visited him out on Long Island and got everything squared away.

• Coffee and bagels to thank our family friend, a lawyer, for witnessing my application: $23
• Postage to send my photos to said witness after forgetting to ask him to sign them: $1.80
• Irish Foreign Birth Registration fee: €270.00 ($365 as of mid-2013)
• Chipotle salads after each of my visits to the consulate, because come on, it’s right across the street: $25.50

Subtotal: $415.30
Timeline: 7 months


Passport Fees
After the headache of gaining citizenship, applying for an Irish passport was a breeze. My only gripe is that the going rate for passport photos seems to be $4 each (?!), and my application required 4 of them. So:

• Passport photos: $16
• Passport application fee: $108 + $13 FedEx fee
• Celebratory bottle of Irish whiskey after receiving my passport in the mail: $38

Subtotal: $175
Timeline: 2 months


One year and $784.30 later, I am an Irish citizen with the passport to prove it!
What makes dual citizenship worth the cost, effort, and months of bureaucratic headaches? For me, the biggest advantage is the employment and residency opportunities that come with an EU passport. I can now work and live freely in almost any country in the EU, including the UK, sparing me from the uncertainty and expense of applying for work visas.

Formally claiming my Irish heritage in the form of citizenship is also an investment in my future family, since the children and grandchildren of Foreign Birth Registrants are eligible for citizenship too. By registering myself before I have kids of my own, I am passing on this opportunity to the next couple generations of my family. My brothers and sister also applied for citizenship, and should get their certificates later this summer. Since I already did the hard/expensive work of getting our supporting documents (ya feel me, fellow oldest siblings?), they only had to shell out $45 for a long-form birth certificate and $365 for the application fee. Our dad is considering applying as well, mostly so he can take advantage of Ireland’s generous tax policies should he become fabulously wealthy one day.

If you’re interested in finding out more about Irish citizenship through descent, contact your local Irish embassy. Many countries offer citizenship to the children of citizens, and some like Italy and Jamaica also extend that right to citizens’ grandchildren. If you have stories to share about your own heritage or dual citizenship, please let us know in the comments!


Amanda McLoughlin is a writer from New York with a day job in finance who is currently planning her escape to a rural New England homestead. Find her on Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, and YouTube.

Photos: Giuseppe Milo; Keoni Cabral


16 Comments / Post A Comment

A-M (#4,317)

Many other EU countries do this, too! I have duel citizenship with Finland and have voted in their elections (but I’m a political nerd and vote in every election) and lived in the EU with my family. It’s excellent. Actually, I have to renew my passport next year. Woot!

Amanda M. (#7,040)

@A-M Ah, so cool! As far as I can understand Irish citizens have to be physically present in the EU to vote in the elections, but I look forward to doing that one day.

ATF (#4,229)

I am now deeply sad that I appear to be one generation removed from being eligible for Italian citizenship (all my paternal great-grandparents were born there and my mother’s maternal relatives were as well).

wrappedupinbooks (#1,426)

@ATF I was researching this too, but I got the impression that if your great grandparent was born in Italy, and your grandparent was born before your great grandparent became a naturalized citizen elsewhere that you were eligible.

Sarah S (#7,039)

My family obtained dual citizenship through naturalization. I, in turn, got my kids their citizenship when they were born. Each time took about a year to complete, since there are extra complications for children of naturalized citizenship born and living abroad. By far the hardest was obtaining 5 forms of identification for each of them. It’s pretty hard to find 5 forms of ID for a month old baby. :) So the first step was getting an American passport for them.

But I slogged on, and they’re both dual citizens now! Lots of benefits – free health care if needs be, free (or cheap) quality secondary education, and citizenship in a country that maintains political neutrality.

I’ve thought about moving back, but the cost of living is just so insanely high, and the job market is lackluster.

guenna77 (#856)

the benefits are awesome if you have the type of career where you would want to pursue opportunities in those countries. great flexibility. One thing to keep in mind though is that if you do the kind of work where the need for a security clearance is common, you will have likely have to give up that dual citizenship (no allegiances to a foreign government) and even if you do, having had it in the first place can make your clearance process harder because exercising rights in those countries (voting in elections and such) can be an indication of ‘preference’ for that country over the US. but if you don’t care and will never need a clearance, then none of that matters!

Amanda M. (#7,040)

@guenna77 You’re quite right! A friend of mine has had this problem while applying to government jobs.

Cup of T (#2,533)

I suspect that the extension of citizenship to the children and grandchild of foreign birth registrants won’t last forever, given how many people are already able to claim Irish citizenship (something like 16 million people worldwide have Irish passports, even though the Republic’s population is 4 million!) So if that applies to you, I would get on it sooner rather than later…

Cup of T (#2,533)

@Cup of T I should add that my Irish-born dad got me my citizenship and passport when I was still a child and my frequently-working-in-Europe adult self is forever grateful!

Amanda M. (#7,040)

@Cup of T Definitely – this is why I decided to help my siblings apply now. Policies this good don’t last.

corner desk (#7,034)

I would have to get my mother the citizenship first. Though I’m fortunate to live in America. It’s one of the most geographical diverse nations and there are jobs that pay well. That’s why the Irish come here.

I would LOVE to live in Amsterdam if there were the perfect job for me. Ireland’s too rural, IMO.

theballgirl (#1,546)

This is very relevant to me and my little fambam as we are applying for dual citizenship RIGHT NOW (italy). I hadn’t realized (stupidly) that there would be significant fees involved. Whoops. Regardless, nothing is getting in the way of my escapist/Tuscany dreams.

charmcity (#1,091)

I looked into this when I was a teenager, because it is awesome, but my grandparents were born on farms at the turn of the 20th century – no birth certificates :(

bacon (#1,500)

But what is the situation on income tax if you have dual US/Somewhere citizenship? I have the idea you have to pay US income taxes even if you live in Ireland or wherever. This true?

hardrye (#7,108)

@bacon this. the author is very mistaken if she believes her administrative costs will end after simply obtaining her second citizenship! First of all, while it’s technically not illegal to be a dual citizen, it’s certainly not encouraged or looked upon kindly. As for costs, all US citizens are required to file/pay income taxes (not to mention declare assets held abroad) regardless of where they call home. There is a reason why many wealthy dual citizens eventually give up their US identity–it’s expensive.

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