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
Timeline: 3 months
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
Timeline: 7 months
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
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!