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Thomas, Solicitor
Category: UK Immigration Law
Satisfied Customers: 7620
Experience:  BA (Hons), PgDip, Practising Solicitor
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Hello, I was born in Ireland in 1978. My father - British,

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I was born in Ireland in 1978. My father - British, was born in Eire in 1946. My grandfather - British, was born in Ireland in 1917. (All births legitimate).
If I were to apply for a British passport - for which type of passport should I be applying for?
I have checked out the the UK Border Agency pages looking for guidance- but I cannot find any answers specific to my scenario.
Any guidance you can provide would be appreciated.

When you refer to "Ireland" are you referring to Northen Ireland, or the Republic of Ireland?

Kind regards,

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I was born in the Republic. (1978)

My father was born in Eire (1946 - the official name of the entire island till 1949 was Eire)

My grandfather was born in Ireland (1917 - there was still no north/south divide)

Sorry, you would be surprised how often people use incorrect terminology.

What periods of residence do you have in the uk?

Is there a reason/objective for you wishing ti get UK citizenship?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

No worries - it's a complicated historical mess!!


I have never been permanently resident in the UK. I am looking for a UK passport through descent - primarily for the benefits of travel through out SE Asia - to enjoy almost the same ease of travel we have in Europe, regardless of the EU-ness of an Irish passport.

This is not always afforded to the holders of Irish passports, for pretty much the same reasons outlined in sentence one above...



Hi Niall,

Drafting your answer now. 5 mins please.


Thanks for your patience.

I am afraid that I cannot see that you are eligible for UK citizenship under the current circumstances.

UK citizenship (“citizenship otherwise than by descent”) is only permitted to descend one generation to children born outside the UK. In these circumstances a child would obtain “citizenship by descent”, which is the same as “citizenship otherwise than by descent” except that they would not be able to pass on citizenship to any of their own children born outside the UK.

In the most optimistic circumstances your father might have had “citizenship otherwise than by descent”. This would mean that he would have been able to pass it on to your father even though your father was born outside the UK. In these circumstances your father would have obtained “citizenship by descent”, which means that – unfortunately – he would not have been able to pass it on again to you because you were born outside the UK,

As is more likely, if he had “citizenship by descent” then your grandfather would not even have been able to pass it on to your father, because it can only descend one generation to child born outside the UK.

Therefore, you are not eligible for UK citizenship by descent.

It becomes necessary to consider whether your status as an Irish citizen confers any rights on you to apply for UK citizenship and I’m afraid that I cannot see that it does. Irish citizens no longer have any additional rights to other EEA citizens to apply for UK citizenship.

In order to become a UK citizens you would have to naturalise. In order to naturalise you must first be free of immigration time restrictions, which means that you must obtain “permanent residence. Once you have completed 5 years in the UK without being outside the UK for more than 90 days in any 12 month period then you ca apply for permanent residence to confirm your right to permanently remain in the UK:-

12 months after receiving PR you will both be able to apply for UK citizenship provided you meet the eligibility requirements on the following page:-

This, sorry to say, appears to be the only route available to you to apply for citizenship.

I am very sorry that I could not have better news for you, Niall.

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Kind regards,

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hi Tom,


My father didn't gain his British status by descent - it was through his birth in Eire/Ireland in 1946 when it was was still a dominion of the Empire, prior to the 1948 British Nationality Act.

As it was otherwise than by descent he was, and still does remain a British Subject.


I was born in 1978, legitimately, prior to the 1981 British Nationality Act, so does his British Subject status confer directly onto me, by descent - because I was born before the new laws of the 1981 Act limiting the transmission of such status, to heirs born post January 1, 1983?




Hi Niall,

I see.

I don't think that you woudl be eligible for british subject status on the basis that you were a) not a British Subject on 31 Dece 1984 and b) because you were an ROI citizen.

In any event, British Subjects are still only permitted to "upgrade" citizenship to become a British Citizen only if they have resided in the UK for a period of 5 years OR the Home Secretary is satisfied that i) you do not have any other form of citizenship/nationality.

So, even if you are a British Subject you are not eligible to "upgrade" to become a British Citizen beacuse you fall foul of the above two stipulations..

Please remember to rate my answer.

Kind regards

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hey Tom,


Sorry to keep pushing, but I'm getting conflicting answers online regarding my original question.

To clarify, I'm not seeking British citizenship - my Irish citizenship confers on me much the same freedom of movement and work in and around Europe, and the UK.

But as I'm sure you're aware, the UK issues many different types of passports to citizens/subjects of former colonies,

Ireland included - without conferring any particular right of abode, or citizenship - by the granting of such passports.

That being said, having a British Subject passport in Asia, even one without a UK right of abode, is a lot more beneficial than one from most other EU states - particularly Ireland, in terms of visa requirements.

So, ipso facto, my father being a British Subject in 1978, 'otherwise than by descent', at the time of my birth - does that status not transfer directly unto me, as his direct descendent born prior to the 1981 Act, thus, making me eligible for a British Subject passport?


Thanks for your patience!


Hi Niall,

I see.

I think British Subject status would have descended one generation to you - provbided your father held as "otherwise than by descent" - on the basis that you were born before 1983.

It's very complicated thought and, frankly, to be defninitive on the question I would need to spend at least a couple of hours doing in depth research I'm afraid.

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