It is well known that having Irish citizenship does bring along so many advantages. For starters, being an EU member state, you will have access to other EU states, which means that you will be able to travel, live and work in these states freely. Also, you will be able to enjoy some fundamental rights set out in the constitution, and that you can hold dual or multiple EU citizenships without losing Irish citizenship, among many other benefits.
Now, Irish citizenship can be obtained in two main ways:
- Through birth or descent; or
- Through naturalisation
If you were born in Ireland, or one of your parents or grandparents was an Irish citizen, then you are entitled to Irish citizenship, regardless of whether you are currently living in the country or not. However, for those who don’t have any family ties to Ireland, and are seeking to become an Irish citizen, then the process becomes a bit complicated. In this guide, we will tell you everything you need to know about Irish citizenship through naturalisation.
Getting Irish citizenship through naturalisationBasically, naturalisation is the process in which a foreign national residing in Ireland applies to become a citizen. To be eligible for application, you must have been a resident and physically present in Ireland for a certain amount of time. After applying, your application is then evaluated by Immigration Service Delivery (ISD), who act on behalf of the Justice Minister. The Minister has absolute discretion to either accept or reject your application, where he/she considers all available information available so as to make an informed decision. In addition, you must be of good character, show a genuine commitment to the state, and promising to uphold the country’s values and also abide by its laws. You must also prove beyond any reasonable doubt that you are a self-supporting individual who’s capable of taking care of yourself and all your dependents without any assistance from the state. The application fee is 175 EUR.
How do you apply for Irish citizenship through naturalisation?There are a number of steps you have to follow when applying for naturalisation. They include: Step 1: Ensure that you qualify Step 2: fill in an application form Step 3: gather all supporting documentation Step 4: make a declaration Step 5: send the form together with the application fee to the ISD
Step 1 – Ensure that you qualify
You are eligible for application if:
- You are 18 years, and above, at the time of the application.
- You intend to remain in the country even after you get citizenship.
- You’ve accumulated sufficient ‘reckonable residence’ in Ireland.
- You have been in the country, continuously, for the 1 year that immediately precedes your application.
- You are the spouse or civil partner to an Irish national.
You have to be 18 years and over. And if you are applying for a child, you must ensure that:
- The child is of Irish descent
- He/she was born in Ireland after January 1st 2005 and didn’t qualify for citizenship by birth.
- The child’s parent is a citizen by naturalisation.
Citizenship for partners of Irish citizens
Are you married to, or in a civil relationship with an Irish national? If so, you can apply for citizenship through nationalisation. But you have to meet the following conditions:
- You are 18 years and above.
- You’ve been in the marriage for 3 years or more.
- You’ve been in Ireland for 3 out of the 5 years before applying. Also, you must have been in Ireland or Northern Ireland for a year, continuously, before the application date.
- You live with your partner
- You are of good character
- You have the intention of remaining in the country even after you become a citizen.
For you to be regarded as of good character, you must:
- have no criminal record
- have no driving offences
- clean and that there are no ongoing investigations against you
- have no pending criminal cases in court
- have no civil cases going on or have received any warnings from the Gardaí
You will be asked to disclose all this information on your application form.
Residence in the state (reckonable residence)
Reckonable residence is simply the number of days you have been in Ireland before applying for citizenship through naturalisation. Now, for you to qualify for citizenship in Ireland:
- You must have lived in the country for at least 5 years (1825 days) in the last nine years
- If you are a spouse/civil partner to an Irish national, you must have been in the country for 3 years (1095 days) overall, in the last 5 years.
- You must have been in Ireland for at least 365 days, continuously, prior to submitting your application.
For non-EU or Swiss nationals, they can only prove that they meet these requirements, by adding up the duration of the permission stamps. The only stamps allowed when calculating reckonable residence are; Stamp 1, 3, 4, and 5, which means that if at all you spent time in Ireland as an international student or visitor, it won’t count.
For EU nationals who don’t have permission stamps on their passports, they will need to provide documents that prove you lived in the country during the specified time to prove reckonable residence. These documents include:
- Household bills
- Tax return forms
- Bank statements
- Mortgage documents
- Payslips or employment letters
- Tenancy agreement
Remember, all the documents have to indicate your name and address clearly.
As earlier mentioned, your future intentions after acquiring citizenship are also critical in the process, and whether your application is approved or not. Now, you must intend to continue residing in the country even after naturalisation. If you are granted citizenship, and then move away from Ireland, you will be needed to complete form 5, which basically declares your intention to maintain your citizenship while you are abroad temporarily.
Step 2 – Filling the application form
There are a number of forms that you can fill and can all be downloaded on the ISD website. They include:
- Form 8: for an individual of full age
- Form 9: for a minor
- Form 10: for minor of Irish descent
- Form 11: for a minor born in the country but not entitled to citizenship at birth
When filling the form, you should always ensure that you read the notes attached very carefully, and never leave blank spaces. If a question doesn’t apply to you, better write “N/A”, which stands for ‘not applicable.’ After you are done filling the form, you will need to sign it, and can only do so in the presence of someone who can act as a witness, probably a Peace Commissioner, a Commissioner for Oaths, Notary Public, or a Practising Solicitor. The information on the witness is available on your specific form. Once you are done completing the application and have signed everything, you must then return the form to INIS together with all the required documents listed on the form.
Step 3 – Gather your documentation
The documents required from you depend on your specific situation. Whichever document is asked from you, ensure that all of them are in the English language, and if not, you must get them translated before submitting them. And in all cases, regardless of your situation, you have to provide evidence of your identity and nationality. For instance, if you are an adult aged 18 and above, you will be needed to provide your current original passport plus any other previous passports you’ve had during your periods of residence in the country, together with a copy of each passport’s biometric page. Your passport will be returned to you in a period of 6 weeks.
The other documents that will be required from you are those relating to your status as well as the duration of your stay in Ireland, which include:
- Your Irish Residence Permit (IRP)
- A declaration of refugee status or even subsidiary protection
- Permission letters from the Department of Justice allowing you to remain
For EU citizens looking to apply for citizenship based on residence, they can always find out the documents that are required from them as proof of residence on the ISD (Immigration Service Delivery) website. For those applying based on a marriage or civil partnership with an Irish national, you will need to submit documents proving your spouse’s nationality, as well as evidence that you’ve been in the marriage for 3, or more, years.
Moreover, there are those documents that will need to be certified by a solicitor or a commissioner of oaths as ‘true copies’ for them to be accepted. They include:
- Your birth certificate
- The birth certificate of your spouse ( i.e if the application is based on marriage to an Irish national)
- A marriage or civil partnership certificate proving your marriage to the Irish citizen
You will also require a tax clearance certificate that shows how your tax affairs are – and that they are in order.
Now, if for some unavoidable or unexpected reason you are unable to access any of the required documents, you need to state clearly the reasons why you can’t access or include them as part of your application. And if it’s the birth or marriage certificate you can’t send or find, then you must use an affidavit to explain why you can’t the certificate.
Step 4 – Make a declaration
After everything is ready – both the application form and the supporting documents – the next step will be to make a statutory declaration. Basically, a statutory declaration is how you declare and swears that everything you’ve provided is true and accurate. The declaration has to be done in the presence of an authorised witness, who can be:
- A solicitor
- A notary public
- A peace commissioner
- A commissioner for oaths
All adults applying for citizenship through naturalisation must make this declaration. If your application is based on marriage/civil partnership with an Irish national, the spouse must also make the declaration. There will be a small fee for the solicitor who witnesses your statutory declaration. The witness will also have to give you two passport size photographs, which he/she signs and dates at the back, which you will then have to send together with your application.
Step 5 – Submit your application and pay the application fee
Check your application again to ensure that you have filled everything as it should and that all the documents required have been included as well. The application form does have a detailed checklist that acts as your guide. Remember to pay 175 EUR, which must be a banker’s draft – no other type of payment is accepted. The drafts can be gotten from any bank, without necessarily having to open an account with the bank. In the event that your application is declined, this payment won’t be refunded.
What follows after your application for citizenship?It takes around 12 months for your application to be processed. But in a few weeks, the ISD will contact you informing you whether your application passed the initial processing stage or not. If there are any clarifications or further documents needed, you will be informed. It is in this stage where you will be issued an application number. If your application is successful, you will be notified through a letter by ISD. You will be asked to pay the certificate fee – EUR 950 for regular applications; EUR 200 for minors; and EUR 200 for Widow, Widowers, and civil partners – and also send your IRP (Irish Residence Permit) if you are non-EEA. You will also be invited to a citizenship ceremony. If your application is not successful, the reason for the decision will be communicated to you. And the decision cannot be appealed. However, if you feel that ISD was unfair in its process, you can always apply to the High Court to carry out a judicial review. Consult a lawyer on your chances first though, before going to court. And if you were rejected based on security concerns, you can ask about the information relied upon when making the decision. This information can then be reviewed by a Single Person Committee, who will then recommend to the Justice Minister whether to release the information used to you or not.
Irish citizenship ceremonyAs earlier mentioned, once your application for citizenship is accepted, and have cleared all the relevant fees required, you will then be invited to attend a citizenship ceremony. This ceremony is held twice every year and invitations are sent 4 to 5 weeks early. It is in these ceremonies where thousands of foreign nationals become naturalised. Basically, at the ceremony, what happens is that you make a declaration of loyalty and fidelity to Ireland, after which you get your Certificate of Naturalisation, which officially makes you an Irish citizen.
Applying for an Irish passportOnce everything to do with your citizenship is sorted out, you can now apply for an Irish passport. What you need is documentary evidence, which includes evidence of your identity as well as citizenship plus recent passport-sized photos. Please note that given the registration for a passport is an entirely separate process from getting your citizenship, there will be further fees to pay. For a standard passport, you will be required to pay EUR 80, and if you are outside Ireland and are applying through an embassy, there will be additional costs to pay. There are three main ways in which you can apply for a passport; online, in person, or through passport express.
Passport online serviceNow, if you are living in Ireland, Great Britain, Northern Ireland, the EU, and the EEA area or Switzerland, you can now use the Passport Online service to apply for your first Irish passport. You just need to have access to a printer and an internet service. For the payment, you have to pay by credit or debit card. After you have completed the online application form, then send your original documents to the Passport Service.
Digital photographs – in your online application, you are required to include a digital photo, which can be done in three ways:
- Get a photo provider to take a photo of you, who will also give you a code that you will use in your application.
- A photo provider may also take the photo and then send it through email, or save the photo on a USB drive, or any other storage device. Just make sure that you can access the photo when filling in your details online.
- You can also take a photo at home using a smartphone or a digital camera. Remember, this cannot be a “selfie”, and the photo must capture you from the waist upwards.
Proving your identity – once your online application is complete, then you will be needed to prove your identity, by printing an Identity Verification Form. And if you are applying in Ireland, the form must have a signature from a member of the Garda Siochana. If you are outside the country, take it to any professional listed on the verification form itself or the passport online site.
Submitting your documents – after everything is complete, you will then be needed to print an application cover page. This will have a list of all the documents that you will need to send to the passport agency. Remember that all documents must be original. When sending your documents, it is recommended that you use the postage method, where a postage label is generated as part of your application – i.e if you are in Ireland. But if you are outside the country, ensure that you use a reliable postal service or maybe the nearest Irish Embassy.
Application through Passport ExpressFor Irish citizens living in Ireland, they should complete form APS 1, which is found in any post office or Garda stations. You must also include 4 recent identical photos of yourself in your application, with two of them being signed by your witnesses at the back. It is also recommended that the witness writes the form number on the two signed photographs. And if you are in Ireland, the witness has to be a member of the Garda Siochana. If you are abroad, you will find a list of suitable witnesses on the application form. The witness chosen must include their contact number on the form as further verification might be needed by the passport service or the relevant embassy or consulate.
Applying in personIn as much as this is a popular method used in Ireland, especially by those renewing their passports, it’s not ideal for those applying for the passport for the first time. It is considered for passport renewal due to the urgency associated with it. If you are applying for the first time, you can use the counter service, but just know that it won’t be processed urgently – it may take more time. In terms of price, the in-person method is a bit more expensive. If you are not living in Ireland, and perhaps there are no Passport Express or Passport Online services, then you can register for an Irish passport in person or any registered post to your nearest Irish Embassy or consulate. In this case, you fill APS 2, which can only be gotten from the embassy or consulate.
What documents do you need?
- Birth certificate
- Marriage or civil partnership certificate
- Proof of name
- Proof of address
- Original government issue photo identification document or a copy of your Public Services Card
- National ID card, original passport, social security cards, or your driving license.
Irish Citizenship through birth descent
If you were born in Ireland, or if one of your parents or grandparents was an Irish national, you may be entitled to Irish citizenship, regardless of whether you are living in the country or not.
Irish citizenship by birth
If you were born in Ireland, you can get citizenship quite easily. However, the rules regarding the citizenship differ based on the year of birth. For instance, those that were born before January 1st, 2005, are entitled to become a citizen. But if you were born after that, and:
- Your parents were Irish citizens, then you can get citizenship as well.
- Your parents were foreign citizens, you are entitled to Irish citizenship if:
- Your parents were British citizens, or
- They were given refugee status in Ireland, or
- Your parents were legally permitted to live in Ireland, and have been there for at least three years immediately before your birth.
Irish citizenship by descent
According to Irish law, whether you were born in Ireland or not, if any of your parents or grandparents was a citizen, you are then entitled to get your own Irish citizenship by descent.
Citizenship from your parents
According to the law, if any of your parents is an Irish citizen, and were born in Ireland, then that means that you automatically become a citizen yourself, regardless of where you were born. In addition, if one of your parents was an Irish citizen born abroad or was a citizen who obtained citizenship through naturalisation, you are also entitled to Irish citizenship.
Citizenship from your grandparents
If both your parents were not born in Ireland, and your grandparents were, you can also obtain citizenship through the grandparents.
How do you become a citizen through birth or descent?
For your citizenship to be recognised, you will need to register your birth with the Department of Foreign Affairs in the Foreign Births Register. You can apply online, through the Ministry’s website. Once you are done, you can print the form and submit it together with other required documents at an Irish embassy or consulate in your country. If you happen to be in Ireland when applying, just submit your application and documents to the Department of Foreign Affairs’ Consular Section in Dublin.
The documents needed include:
- Birth certificates
- Marriage certificates
- Divorce papers (if any)
- Death certificates (if any)
- Your parents’ grandparents’ or your naturalisation documents
(Basically, any document that proves your entitlement to citizenship).
After registering your birth with the department of foreign affairs, you will receive a certificate confirming it. This certificate can be used to apply for an Irish passport.
Can I have dual citizenship in Ireland?In Ireland, you are not required to renounce your previous citizenship, which means that you can have dual citizenship. So, if your country also accepts dual citizenship, you will have citizenship in your country of residence and still become naturalised in Ireland. But if your country of residence doesn’t accept dual citizenship, you will have to renounce that citizenship before you become an Irish citizen. If in any doubts about your situation, you can seek advice from an immigration lawyer.
Can Irish citizenship be revoked?Yes, it can! The Minister for Justice has the power to take back (revoke) your citizenship certificate if:
- It was obtained through misrepresentation, fraud, or concealment of crucial information and documents.
- You failed in your duty for fidelity and loyalty to the state.
- Other than in public service, you lived outside Ireland for a continuous period of 7 years, and never registered or declared your intention to retain your Irish citizenship with the Ministry of Justice or any Irish diplomatic mission or consular office, without a valid reason.
- You are a citizen of a nation that’s at war with Ireland.
- You became a citizen of another country through any other voluntary act apart from marriage or civil partnership.