By Alison Fox
October 22, 2019

Getting a new stamp in your passport can be exciting. And while you may already have a passport from the country you were born in, you can also get another — if you have a grandparent (or in some cases even a great-grandparent) who was born out of the country.

U.S. passports are not the most powerful passports in the world (far from it, in fact), so it’s no wonder why some travelers may want to broaden their traveling options.

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Your family ancestry is more than just a popular dinner conversation, it’s a way to open the door to new places around the globe. So whether you want to jet off with fewer visa worries, take advantage of shorter customs lines, or simply feel more worldly the next time you’re at the airport, it may be worth your time to look into your right to claim a different passport.

Below are seven countries in which you’re in luck if you have a grandparent — or in some cases, any ancestors — who came from there.


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Even if you were not born in Ireland, you are eligible for Irish citizenship if one of your grandparents was born on the island or was an Irish citizen at the time of your birth, according to the Irish Foreign Ministry. In order to get a passport, you have to apply for Foreign Birth Registration, which can take up to a year to process.

United Kingdom

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Applying for British citizenship through a grandparent is a three-step process that takes several years. If you can prove one of your grandparents was born in the U.K., you first have to apply for a U.K. Ancestry visa, which allows you to stay in the country for five years. After those five years, you can then apply for permanent settlement, or indefinite leave to remain. Once you have had that status for a year, you can apply for citizenship.


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In Italy, descendants of Italian citizens are often eligible to become citizens themselves — and there is no limit on how many generations ago your ancestors left the country as long as they maintained their own Italian citizenship until they had kids of their own, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Italy. You can prove this lineage through things like birth and marriage certificates.


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You can apply for Spanish citizenship if one of your grandparents was originally Spanish themselves, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation of Spain. But in order to do so, you have to first live in Spain legally for one year.


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Hungary considers most people with Hungarian grandparents to be Hungarian citizens, so all you have to do is apply to verify your citizenship (and it doesn’t matter if you speak Hungarian or not). If your grandparents lost their Hungarian citizenship — which tends to come up due to different peace treaties that followed WWI and WWII — you can still apply to be a Hungarian citizen through the simplified naturalization process, but you do have to speak Hungarian.


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If your ancestors lost their German citizenship because of religious, political, or racial grounds from 1933 to 1945 — which applied to a lot of Jewish people and other persecuted groups who fled Nazi Germany — you may be eligible to have that citizenship restored. In order to claim this, you have to be able to say that if your ancestor had not been deprived of their German citizenship, you would have acquired it by birth.


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You may be eligible to obtain Lithuanian citizenship if one of your grandparents or great-grandparents (who had citizenship before 1940) left Lithuania before 1990 or was a deportee or political prisoner. In order to prove this lineage, you have to submit things like birth certificates or documents concerning studies or work prior to 1940.