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How to Get an Irish Passport

For Americans with an Irish grandparent, it's still fairly easy. Here's exactly how to do it.Several European countries, including Ireland, have recently tightened some of their rules on citizenship. But if one of your grandparents was born in Ireland, it's still relatively easy and cheap to get an Irish passport.It's easy, that is, if you're able to get the right documents on your grandparent. The first step: call the Irish Embassy or Consular office in your district here in the US and request an application (in most cases you'll have to leave your name and address on an answering machine ? don't worry, the response is usually prompt).

For a complete listing of offices and phone numbers in the US, visit www.irelandemb.org/fbr.html (this site also includes a very in-depth explanation of documents required for application).

What you'll receive is not a passport application, but an application for Irish citizenship, which you must obtain before you can get the passport.If a grandparent is your connection to Ireland, you'll be applying for Irish citizenship "by descent." The fee for this is currently $178, and the documents you'll need to obtain are:.1) Your grandparent's Irish birth certificate. If no one in your family has this, it can be obtained by applying to the General Register Office, Joyce House, 8-11 Lombard St.

East, Dublin 2, Ireland. The fee of 7 euro can be paid over the phone by credit card (Ph: 011 353 163 540 00). An alternative is to obtain the certificate from the Superintendent Registrar of your grandparent's birth district in Ireland. A contact list is available, again, at www.irelandemb.

org/fbr.html).2) Your grandparent's marriage certificate.3) Birth and marriage certificates for your parents.4) Death certificates for any of the above who are deceased.

Be aware that you must obtain originals of all American documents; copies will not do. You also need to get "long form" birth and marriage certificates from town or state agencies. The types of marriage certificates given out by churches are generally not adequate.To get the documents originating from Ireland, you need to know when and where your grandparent was born.

If no one in your family has this information, you have some genealogy work to do. Birth records have been maintained in Ireland since 1864. If your grandparent was born before then, there are several resources to help you find their birth information listed on the "about us" page at www.groireland.ie.Gone With the Church All sorts of glitches can pop up in this process.

A common problem is that some 19th century births were never registered with civil authorities. An alternative in such cases is to try and find a church record. Sometimes, however, people find that the church in their ancestral area burned down long ago, taking all the records with it. Assuming you do obtain the required documents, however, you should obtain your citizenship in about 18 months. Then it's time to put in your passport application. The current passport fee is $98, and you can expect to receive your passport in 12 ? 16 weeks.

Other Family Trees Passing your Irish citizenship is much more tricky. Kids: If you currently have American kids, you cannot obtain citizenship an then pass it along to them. On the other hand, if you get your citizenship and then have children, you can pass it on.

Spouses: The rules concerning spouses have been tightened. Your spouse can apply for citizenship until November 30th of 2005, but only if you have already been and Irish citizen and married for three years. Obviously, this isn't feasible if you're starting the application process now.Irish Great-Grandparents: If a great-grandparent is your nearest Irish-born relative, you can only obtain citizenship if one of your parents registered.Irish Parents: If one of your parents was born in Ireland, reading this article has probably not been a productive use of your time! You're already considered a citizen of Ireland, and need only apply for a passport.

The American View When you obtain your dual citizenship, you are still required to use your American passport to exit and re-enter the US. There only potential negative for an American holding dual citizenship, according to the US State Department, is that in certain circumstances, the government of Ireland may look on you only as a Irish citizen. If you're arrested in Ireland, for example, you may be eligible to receive any help from the US Consulate there.

For further information, visit www.travel.state.gov.

.Robert Sullivan is the editor of Ireland Fun Facts and Irish Crossings, two information services for Americans who are interested in Ireland.www.ireland-fun-facts.com.

By: Robert Sullivan

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