Getting a second passport from the Republic of Ireland by descent is both extremely valuable and extremely easy. It has one of the simplest application procedures of all countries who offer citizenship based on ancestry. Since independence in 1922, Ireland has experienced massive emigration, particularly to the UK, US and Australia.
In recognition of the amount of people of Irish descent living abroad, the Irish state has very open laws on citizenship. Ireland has a population of 4.4 million, but there are 14 million Irish passports issued and an estimated 90 million people worldwide who are eligible for Irish citizenship.
Why is a second passport so important?
A second passport means you are not dependent on or subject to any one particular country or system. It means independence and autonomy. The right second passport can open up the entire world to you. US citizens are especially at risk. Apart from the fact that only 46% of Americans have passports, they face the following problems because of their citizenship:
- The IRS can have your passport revoked if you owe them back taxes
- Many countries banking systems either refuse to do business with US citizens, or make it very difficult to do so. The Swiss banks are a prime example
- Non-resident US citizens are still taxed by their government
- Being a US citizen automatically puts you in danger in many parts of the world
On top of these are the risks faced by anyone with just one nationality. Argentina saw capital controls introduced during its currency crisis. If you are persecuted because of your race, religion or sexual orientation in one state, you have no other country obligated to protect you. That second passport allows you to leave a country quickly and in an orderly manner. An extreme example of this was the Jewish community in 1930s Germany.
Having a second passport is one of the central tenets of flag theory. Flag theory is a school of thought that advocates basing different parts of your life, your flags, in different states. This diversification shields you not only from the control of any one state, but it protects your business and finances.
Different variations of Flag Theory exist but a standard example of its implementation is this:
- Have a second passport from Ireland
- Hold physical assets and bank accounts in Switzerland
- Have your business registered and resident in Hong Kong
- Host your websites in Costa Rica
- Spend your recreational time in Thailand
Why an Irish passport?
An Irish passport is not only easy to obtain through descent, it is also the perfect second passport for US, UK and Australian citizens. Irish citizenship has the following benefits for Anglophones:
- Ireland is a member of the EU. Irish citizenship gives you the right to live, work and travel anywhere in the European Union
- Ireland allows dual nationality
- In the wake of Brexit, Ireland’s closeness to the UK has become even more important. Despite the Troubles in Northern Ireland, both the British and Irish governments recognise the close ties between the two countries. Irish citizenship is accepted under the UK’s armed forces nationality requirements. Irish citizens resident in the UK can vote in nearly all UK elections, including a general election. Even if travel restrictions and tariffs are introduced between the UK and the rest of Europe, it’s very unlikely that Ireland would be included in this
- Ireland is an English speaking country. There’s no new language or even dialect to learn
- Non-residents are not taxed by the Irish government
- Irish companies recognise US, UK and Australian qualifications. There are huge numbers of multinational companies based in Ireland. It is very easy to continue a career there
- Ireland has a stable government, low crime and little to no extreme weather. Ir’s a very safe place to live, or to have as fallback if it was ever needed
- Irish citizens are at much less risk than US and UK citizens when travelling. Ireland is not a member of NATO and hasn’t been involved in Afghanistan or Iraq. It has no strategic interests abroad. The Irish Army is known for peacekeeping all over the world. The Irish state has been sympathetic to the Arab cause in the Middle East. Ireland is known for its hospitality and friendliness. The result of this is Ireland has no enemies. While a white westerner will always face some risk in the Middle East for example. However,an American is going to be in much more danger than an Irish citizen. There has been cases of US or UK hostages being given Irish passports in an attempt to save their lives
- Culturally, Ireland is very close to the UK and the US. An American will feel at home straight away in an Irish city. The Irish watch the same TV and listen to the same music as the rest of the western Anglophone world. This makes a relocation much easier if it ever became necessary
How to get an Irish passport by descent
At first the rules for Irish citizenship by descent look complex. However, it can be simplified down to this:
If you have a parent who is an Irish citizen, or grandparent who was born in Ireland, you are entitled to become an Irish citizen.
First, a little clarity on what citizenship and passport. You can be a citizen and not hold a passport, but you cannot hold a passport and not be a citizen. A passport is simply documentary proof of your citizenship.
If you live in the US, UK or Australia there is a good chance you do have an Irish ancestor. Thousands of Irish people emigrated to those three countries in the Fifties, Sixties and again in the Eighties and 2000s.
There are three different scenarios that could arise:
You have an Irish citizen parent who was born in Ireland
This is the most straightforward situation. You are an Irish citizen and have been since birth. You can simply apply for an Irish passport.
You have an Irish citizen parent who was not born in Ireland
You are entitled to become an Irish citizen. It does matter how your parent became an Irish citizen, only that they were an Irish citizen (or would have been if they were deceased) at the time of your birth.
In this situation, you are not an Irish citizen until you register your birth in the Foreign Births Register maintained by the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Once you register your birth, you become an Irish citizen, but only from that date on. This is important to note.
You have an Irish citizen grandparent who was born in Ireland
You are entitled to become an Irish citizen. Again, this is simply a matter of registering your birth with the Foreign Births Register.
Foreign Births Register
Registering with the Foreign Births Register is very simple and can be done online here. It’s important to have your documentation prepared before but this isn’t difficult. The Department of Foreign Affairs have a very good FAQ on the process.
Applying for an Irish passport
If you are applying for an Irish passport from outside Ireland, you need to use an APS2 form. You can get this form from your closest embassy or consulate. Ireland is well represented in terms of consulates across North America, a full list is available here.
You need the following documentation:
- Four passport photographs, 2 of which must be signed by a witness as per instructions provided with the application form
- Certified copy of photographic ID, for example, driving licence, college identification card, passport from another country (The application form witness can certify it)
- Proof of use of name, for example, payslip, bank statement, social welfare receipts
- Proof of address, for example, utility bill, official correspondence from an Irish State agency
- Appropriate fee
Since you are applying from outside the state of Ireland, just send the completed form to your nearest embassy or consulate.
It will take a little time to get all this done, especially if you have to register with the Foreign Births Register first. It is, however, the most expedient way to get a second passport in the world. Passports are very valuable documents, especially from a first world, EU nation. They aren’t easy to get from anywhere and you often don’t realise their usefulness until you need it and don’t have one.
If you have any questions on the process, put them in the comments and I will do my best to help you out.
Important note on Irish citizenship for your children
If you are entitled to become an Irish citizen, do so straight away. Right now, today. Even if you don’t intend to apply for a passport immediately. You need to be an Irish citizen at the time of your children’s birth for them to be entitled to Irish citizenship. You aren’t an Irish citizen until the day you register with the Foreign Births Register. It also means you are entitled to the protection of the Irish state, regardless of whether you hold a passport or not.
Other options for a second passport
Finally, if you are not lucky enough to have Irish ancestors, there are some other possibilities you can explore if you want a second European passport.
Italy operates a similar citizenship by descent scheme, as does Poland. The US and UK both have large Italian and Polish immigrant communities, so this could well be your option.
France will give a French passport to any foreigner who serves 5 years in the Foreign Legion. If you are wounded in action before your contract finishes, you can apply for a French passport under a provision known as “Français par le sang versé”. This means French by spilt blood.
This option is by no means for the faint of heart, but if you’re a young man with nothing to lose and a taste for adventure, it’s something worth exploring. There’s a few very well written guides available for anyone interested here.