Certificate of Irish Heritage
Official Irishness for the 70 million who do not qualify for Irish citizenship
Application forms can be found at the official website, together with dedicated articles about undertaking Irish genealogy research (many of these articles were specifically commissioned from Irish Genealogy Toolkit!)
Census, birth, marriage and death evidence will usually be acceptable evidence and these do not have to be from Ireland. It will often be easier to obtain documents from the country your Irish ancestor settled in. Minimum requirements are usually the name of your ancestor and an approximate date of departure from Ireland.
The information and documents you submit will be checked and validated before your application is approved.
Once your application is approved, your Certificate of Irish Heritage will follow within two to three weeks, depending on the destination.
A wide choice of designs and frames is available, and there's already a Spanish language design aimed primarily at the descendents of emigrants who headed to Argentina.
The launch cost of the certificate is €40, while a frame adds considerably to the price ie €120 for certificate, frame and postage to the USA. (My own, completely independent research has found that recipients of framed certificates have been impressed with the quality of the frame and felt that the cost was equal or better than what they could have organised at their local framing supplier). Shipping is extra.
The notion of a Certificate of Irish Heritage was raised in summer 2010 by Michael Martin, the then minister for Foreign Affairs.
Announcing his plans he said: "Any discussion of harnessing the Irish Diaspora for the 21st century must commence with a recognition of how some 70 million people around the world can today trace their ancestors to this island.
"The modern global Irish family emerged from the generations of Irish emigrants who left Ireland out of necessity.
"...we in Ireland value and affirm the validity of this sense of Irishness felt by so many people abroad.""Though many carved new and successful lives for themselves abroad, the emigrant experience was often one characterised by hardship loneliness and considerable personal sacrifice.
"As part of our commitment to building on their legacy, the Government has taken a broad and inclusive approach to defining our global community. The Irish Diaspora is not limited to Irish citizens living abroad or to those who have activated citizenship.
"Instead, it encompasses all those who believe they are of Irish descent and feel a sense of affinity with this country. I believe it is essential that we in Ireland value and affirm the validity of this sense of Irishness felt by so many people abroad."Following a change of Government, the Certificate of Irish Heritage was finally brought to fruition in early autumn 2011, with the Kerry-based company Fexco awarded the exclusive contract to administer the project.
Although government-approved, the Certificate confers no rights to citizenship. It was initially intended to encourage the diaspora to visit Ireland but was launched without any of the incentives originally planned.
The very first Certificate of Irish Heritage was presented on 20 September 2011 to the family of an Irish American fireman who died in the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York.
See my personal selection of the very best free online databases for Irish genealogy research. Click image.
Foreign Births RegisterIf neither of your parents was born in Ireland, but you have a grandparent who was, you can apply to have your birth entered in the Foreign Births Register. Your Irish citizenship becomes effective from the date your birth is registered.... it cannot be back-dated to the date of your birth. Note that your children can also become Irish citizens provided they are born after the date of your registration. Their births will have to be entered in the Register. Successive generations can maintain their citizenship so long as their births are entered in the register before the next generation is born.
The wheels are horrendously slow! Registration can take over a year. It is also expensive and quite a lot of documentation is required. Be prepared.
The DFA is responsible for the Foreign Births Register.
More information about eligibility for Irish citizenship
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