What Is a Citizenship by Descent?

Last Updated:  • Published  •

If you have parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, or anyone in your traceable ancestry line that has (had) a citizenship in another country, you might qualify for another citizenship by descent that will allow you to move there, permanently.

What Is a Citizenship by Descent?

As an example, let’s take a look at the Irish 🇮🇪 citizenship obtainable through descent.

  • Say you are a U.S. 🇺🇸 citizen with only a U.S. passport, and so are your parents.

  • Your grandfather, however, emigrated from Ireland 🇮🇪 as an Irish citizen decades ago and he became an immigrant in the U.S.

  • Now, if you have access to his birth and marriage certificates, amongst a few other documents to prove his citizenship in Ireland and how you are connected to him, you can have your birth registered in the Irish Foreign Birth Register and become an Irish citizen.

  • The process will take some time, but that’s pretty much all you need to do. This is comparatively easier as opposed to qualifying for employment visas, apply for permanent residency, etc.

  • Once everything checks out, you can get an Irish passport, live there for some time, any time, permanently, however long you like.

Other countries that offer citizenship by descent typically follow similar procedure.

The key requirement is being able to prove your ancestry.

This means you will have to show either birth certificates, marriage certificates, migration records, passports, or any other proof that shows you are a descendant of a citizen from the country you want to claim your second citizenship from.

WARNING: Make sure your current citizenship will NOT be cancelled when getting a second citizenship...

unless that's what you want.

  • Some countries do not allow dual citizenship by any means, so if you acquire another citizenship by descent or by any other methods, you will lose that current citizenship you have.

  • Some countries allow dual citizenship in an unrestricted manner, meaning you can have two, or technically, as many citizenships as you want.

  • Some countries allow dual citizenship only if it is obtained through descent. For example, Liechtenstein 🇱🇮, Bulgaria 🇧🇬, Croatia 🇭🇷, Estonia 🇪🇪 allows dual citizenships if they are obtained through descent, but foreigners who want to naturalize (e.g. via economic programs) must renounce their old citizenship.

Moral of the story, be sure to look into the dual citizenship rules of:

  • Your current citizenship, AND
  • The citizenship you are looking to obtain through descent.

Learn More

Back to blog

Hey, Ryan here 🇨🇦


Over the past 10 years, I've lived & worked in 5 cities across 3 countries (Previously in 🇸🇬🇮🇩).

More about me here.

27 years old

12 visas & residence permits granted

18 countries & territories visited

12 houses & apartments lived in