How to Get Irish Citizenship
If you’re any one of the millions of Irish descendants living in the UK, USA, Canada, Australia and beyond, chances are you’ve thought about getting Irish citizenship at least once before reading this.
Those not blessed with an EU passport but want to move to Ireland should continue reading.
Even if you’re not Irish by heritage, there are ways to get an Irish passport – and therefore citizenship – by other means. If you want to live and work in Ireland permanently, or at least for the foreseeable future, take a look at the different ways to get Irish citizenship below.
Reasons to get Irish citizenship
- Irish Citizens are issued with an Irish passport and are entitled to live, travel and work in the EU by default.
- Only Irish citizens are eligible to vote in national and general political elections.
- In general Irish citizens are entitled to more rights when compared to non-Irish citizens. Irish Citizens however also have responsibilities such as an obligation to serve on a jury of called upon.
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Different ways to get Irish citizenship
There are several ways to obtain Irish citizenship, which enables you to live and work freely within Ireland and the EU. The standard ways to get Irish citizenship are through:
- Automatic Entitlement: an Irish citizen by birth or through descent (parent, grandparent).
- Naturalisation: best option for those without a direct link to Ireland either through marriage or longterm residence.
Irish citizenship by automatic entitlement
Most people in Ireland achieve their citizenship because of two things: their country of birth or their family. They were either born in Ireland or are direct descendants of someone who is Irish or has a direct link to Ireland.
As a general rule people are entitled to automatic Irish citizenship if any of their parents or grandparents are/were Irish passport holders. Those resident in Northern Ireland are entitled to both British and Irish passports.
If you’re a nervous Brit looking for a way to remain in the EU, and you have an Irish parent or grandparent, check Ireland’s DFA site to apply for a passport. However, thousands of people have been applying since the Brexit vote so processing times are much longer than previously.
Some things to keep in mind
In recent years the process for applying for Irish citizenship through birth or direct descent has become complicated due to the increase in foreign nationals applying for citizenship.
For example, citizenship cannot be automatically achieved through giving birth to an Irish child (where a mother has a child who is born in Ireland and hence is an Irish citizen). In this instance the mother must attempt to achieve citizenship by other means.
Irish citizenship by naturalisation
Anyone who was not born in Ireland and who does not have a direct link to Ireland must apply for citizenship through a process called naturalisation.
Applying for and achieving Irish Citizenship through this route can be a long and slow process where applicants must meet a long list of eligibility criteria:
- Applicants must be able to prove that they are self-supporting individuals capable of looking after themselves and their family without assistance from the state.
- A background check is carried out and applicants must be deemed by An Garda Siochana (Ireland’s police force) to be a person of good character and standing. All applicants will be interviewed and must be able to provide a reason for application and must demonstrate that they have reason to intend to stay in the country on a long term basis.
- Application submission currently costs €175 EUR.
- Those wishing to apply for citizenship through naturalisation must have lived in Ireland for at least five of the previous nine years. This is called “reckonable residence”.
This waiting period can in some cases be reduced to three years if the applicant is married to a current Irish citizen. In general it is easier to gain Irish citizenship if you are married to an Irish citizen.
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Some other requirements for applicants seeking Irish citizenship through naturalisation:
- You must be over 18 years of age
- You must intend to continue to reside in Ireland after the application is granted.
- You must declare loyalty to the nation and to the State.
- You must commit to observe the laws of the State and respect its democratic values.
An extensive list of eligibility criteria is available from the Irish Justice and Equality office. Be careful when filling out the relevant application forms. Mistakes such as misspelling of names and addresses can result in your application being delayed by up to six months.
What happens after applying for Irish citizenship
After submission of the formal application, applicants are usually contacted within a week and advised whether their application has passed the initial application processing stage.
The application is then brought before the Minister for Justice and Equality who has absolute discretion in granting the citizenship application. The justice and equality office will contact applicants by registered post to inform them of the decision that has been made.
Approval for Irish citizenship
Once the application has been approved, the successful applicant has a limited time to accept the offer of citizenship. They must pay a standard fee of €950 EUR which will allow a certificate of Naturalisation to be drawn up and presented to them. There is a reduced fee of €200 EUR to for minors, widows, and widowers.
All successful applicants are invited to an awards ceremony which takes place in the Convention Centre in Dublin several times each year. This is a joyous event and a nice way to close the application process. The certificate of Naturalisation that successful applicants receive can be used to successfully apply for an Irish passport.
Things to know before applying for Irish citizenship
Dual citizenship with Ireland
While Ireland currently allows dual citizenship, it is worth noting that some countries do not recognise dual citizenship.
This means that some people applying for Irish citizenship will automatically lose citizenship of their home country once they gain Irish Citizenship. This is an important consideration given that the applicant may wish to return to their homeland in years to come.
Irish citizenship may not be forever
After obtaining Irish citizenship and an Irish passport it is important to be aware of the fact that your citizenship can be revoked at any stage.
It is important to be truthful when filling out all application forms as if it is found that the form was filled out dishonestly your citizenship be will be revoked regardless how long you have held the citizenship. Certain crimes that may be seen as a deliberate breach of fidelity to the nation and state can also result in citizenship being revoked.