Sunday, 3 July 2016

Claiming an Irish passport - Part 3

The process so far... Having decided I wanted to claim an Irish passport, I sought guidance from the Irish Government's Citizens Information website to see if I qualified, along with my children (see Having done so, and found that we do indeed qualify, I then requested the relevant passport application forms from the Irish consulate in Edinburgh and sought a copy of my Northern Irish birth certificate (see

The application forms duly arrived the following day, with my birth certificate arriving a day later. For anyone wishing to apply from now, that process may perhaps take a wee bit longer, as in the light of the Brexit vote there have been well over a million requests for such passports, an extraordinary demand. Because of the Brexit vote, however, I've decided to accelerate the application for my two boys now also, so this meant ordering up a couple of extra copies of my birth certificate. I was unclear if I could send all three applications together in one go with just the one cert, so figured it was best to play it safe - and the boys will both then have copies of my birth cert in future also (I'm still a genealogist; always thinking about legacy issues! lol)

With myself and my two boys applying for passports, we visited the local photographer in Largs to get passport photos (four have to be sent through for each applicant). The guidance from the consulate states that the preference is for black and white images, although colour images are acceptable. We've ended up getting colour images as the simplest option in town. 

Along with the application forms, the consulate also sent out a guidance form on how to fill them out, along with a covering letter. I filled out the three forms and then asked a friend of mine, who is a local solicitor, to act as a witness on them. The following are suitable candidates identified by the Irish government as witnesses:

Police Officer;
Member of Clergy;
Medical Doctor, Nurse, Pharmacist, Dentist; Vet
Lawyer, Solicitor and Legal Executives (registered with the law society or Institute of Legal Executives);
Bank Official (this includes building societies, credit unions, postmasters and sub-postmasters);
Elected Public Representative (this includes members of Parliment and Councillors);
Justice of the Peace, Notary Public, Commissioner for Oaths, Peace Commissioner;
Social Worker;
Teacher, Lecturer;

One of the requirements on the form requires the witness to formally stamp the back of two of the passport photographs, as well as the form itself. This threw us slightly, as my friend has no formal stamp, but we soon twigged a workaround, in the very cover letter that accompanied the application forms. This states the following:

"The witness should stamp and sign the back of two of the photographs and insert the form number displayed in Section 9. Please ensure the witness is easily contactable at their place of work, that they clearly print their address and contact number (mobiles not accepted). Your application will be returned if we are unable to contact the witness or the witness does not fully and accurately complete their section(s) of the form. The witness does not need to know the applicant for any length of time provided they are satisfied as to their identity. If the witness does not have an Official Stamp then please ensure they sign and date the back of the photographs and include the 8-digit Form Number and sign and date Section 9 of the application form. Where possible, a Business Card should be enclosed if there is no stamp available."

So, with business cards duly provided for the applications, instead of a stamp, that one is resolved! As well as the signed forms, the witness also certified a copy of my driving license, as proof of identity - the alternative was to send through my current British passport, but I don't want to send off such an important document in the post. Additional requirements on the ID front include documents to verify my name and address (eg household bills, tax returns, etc), easily sourced.

The next stage now is to post off the application. The cover letter from the consulate in Edinburgh noted that there was currently a seven week turnaround on applications. I suspect that may drift a bit, but I'll know soon enough!

NB: PART 4 is available at


For details on my genealogy guide books, including A Decade of Irish Centenaries: Researching Ireland 1912-1923Discover Scottish Church Records (2nd edition), Discover Irish Land Records and Down and Out in Scotland: Researching Ancestral Crisis, please visit


  1. Chris,

    Both my children are considering applying for Irish citizenship. They, I and my wife are entitled but we don't know if or how we can prove it.
    My grandfather was born in 1852, before civil registration. He is listed in the 1881, 1891 and 1901 censuses as born in Ireland and in the 1911 census as born in Kilkenny, Inistioge. His baptism appears in the NLI images for Inistioge in 1852.
    My father-in-law was born in 1897. His birth was not registered and he appears in neither the 1901 nor the 1911 Irish censuses although he was in Ireland at the time. (He was of a traveller family.) We have a certified copy of his baptism in Allen, Kildare. The next document referring to him is his joining the British army in Ballinasloe in 1913 (he must have lied about his age).
    Do you think this would suffice for a citizenship application?

    David Lynch

  2. Hi David, the short answer is I am afraid that I do not know, but with the grandparent rule in operation, I can't for a moment imagine that the question has not arisen before about the use of baptismal information pre-1864. I would advise you to contact the nearest consulate or embassy to where you live to enquire about that. Please let me know how you get on!

  3. Chris,

    This could be expensive fun!

    My paternal Great Grandparents were born in England and worked for the Royal Navy in civilian jobs.
    They were relocated to Co. Cork, Ireland and while there they married and had children.
    Before the children became adults the families had returned to England.
    It seems as if my father did not know his mother was born in Ireland.

    For me to claim Irish Citizenship I learn that it is not enough that Grandmother was born in Ireland.
    I also need to prove that she was alive when I was born. Fortunately this is possible; but it is close.
    If I act now my children will also be able to claim Irish Citizenship
    if their non-UK births can be registered in Ireland before I pass on.