How to Become a Citizen of Ireland
Today we’re taking a look at the different ways to become one of the lucky Irish. Keep reading to learn how to get Irish citizenship through ancestry, marriage, or naturalization.
Thinking about making a move to the Emerald Isle? Ready to start a new life in your ancestral land? Ireland is a fabulous place, both to visit and live. You’re about to learn what you’ll need to know to become a citizen of the Republic of Ireland.
Citizenship for Northern Ireland is a separate matter. According to the Belfast Agreement, the people of Northern Ireland may hold Irish citizenship, UK citizenship or both. This article deals strictly with citizenship for the Republic of Ireland.
How to Become an Irish Citizen
There are two main ways to establish Irish citizenship: through naturalization or ancestry.
Establishing citizenship through ancestry is extremely easy. Becoming a citizen through naturalization takes quite a bit longer.
Dual Citizenship in Ireland
Ireland is also one of the easiest countries to get dual citizenship.
Irish Dual citizenship allows you to maintain citizenship in your country of origin and also have access to an Irish passport. There are many benefits to holding dual citizenship, but there are some drawbacks as well (such as paying taxes in both countries).
How to Get Irish Citizenship by Naturalization
To establish citizenship through naturalization, you need to first prove “reckonable residence”. To prove this, you must live in Ireland for at least five out of the last nine years.
You can live there on and off over the years, but you must live in the country for one year prior to applying. You must also live in the country for a minimum of 1,460 days in the last eight years.
Your immigration residence must be kept up to date throughout that period. You’ll need to be able to prove that you were in Ireland legally throughout that time. You can prove this with permission stamps issued by Irish immigration officials.
If you’re married to (or in a civil partnership with) an Irish citizen, the process doesn’t take as long. You can apply for citizenship through naturalization if you are married to an Irish citizen for three years.
How to Get Irish Citizenship Through Ancestry
One of the easiest ways to gain citizenship in Ireland is through your ancestry. Many people receive their Irish Citizenship through their grandparents. To qualify, you’ll need to prove that you’re the child or grandchild of Irish citizens. As long as one of your parents was born in Ireland or you have Irish grandparents, you can establish citizenship through ancestry. You might even qualify for citizenship through ancestry if one of your great-grandparents was born in Ireland. But in order to do so, your parents must have established their own ancestry with the Foreign Births Register. As long as your parents did so, you can qualify just by having a great-grandparent born on the island of Ireland (including Northern Ireland).
If you were born after 1986, your parents would have needed to register prior to your birth. If you were born before 1986, your parents can have registered between 1956 and 1986. It’s recommended that each generation registers with the Foreign Births Register. This allows ancestral citizenship to remain possible for future generations.
So even if you’re not interested in becoming an Irish citizen yourself, you should still register your foreign birth. This ensures that your children will be able to establish citizenship in the future, should they choose to do so.
Keep reading for more details on the Foreign Births Registry below.
How to Apply for Irish Citizenship
The application process is different for each type of citizenship.
How to Apply for Irish Citizenship through Ancestry
If you were born outside the country and want to earn citizenship through ancestry, visit the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The first step in the application process is to register your foreign birth with the Foreign Births Registry.
To register with the Foreign Births Registry, you’ll have to include passport-sized photos with your application. You’ll also need to sign and date your application yourself, as well as have the signature of a witness.
Keep in mind, not just anyone can be a witness. Some examples of acceptable witnesses include police officers, doctors, lawyers, and school principals.
The application with the Foreign Births Registry includes a fee. For adults over the age of 18, it costs 278 Euros (approximately $312 USD). Applicants under the age of 18 must pay 153 Euros (approximately $172 USD).
Approval usually takes between 6-9 months, but it can take up a full year for your application to process.
How to Apply for Irish Citizenship through Naturalization
To apply for citizenship through naturalization, you’ll first need to fill out the appropriate application form. There are a variety of different applications, depending upon your age, circumstances, and where you’re from.
There are a few basic requirements to complete the citizenship application and process.
- Be 18 or over or married to an Irish citizen (children’s applications are completed by a parent or guardian)
- Meet residency or marriage requirements
- Have intentions to continue living Ireland
- Make a declaration of fidelity at an official citizenship ceremony
- Be of good character.
If you don’t quite meet these requirements, don’t be discouraged.
The Minister for Justice and Equality may grant you citizenship without meeting these requirements if you have Irish associations, are in Irish public service, are a refugee, or are “related by affinity” to an Irish citizen. These are but a few of the reasons that the Minister may grant you citizenship outside of the official rules.
How you apply depends on how you are proving naturalization, whether or not you are a Swiss national, and other factors.
Before applying, make sure that you have all the necessary documents (such as a marriage certificate or bank statements). These documents vary by application type.
Once you have gathered the appropriate documents, and the form is accurate and fully complete, you will sign it in front of a witness and then submit it. There is a checklist on each application form to help ensure that you go through each step correctly.
There are two fees. The application fee is 175 Euros. The fees for a certificate of approval and citizenship from free (for a refugee) to 950 euros.
To learn more and access the appropriate forms, visit the INIS website.
Irish Citizenship Benefits
There are a variety of benefits to being an Irish citizen.
One of the biggest benefits is that you’ll have an Irish passport. With a passport from Ireland, you can travel visa-free (or visa upon arrival) to 183 different countries around the world. This list includes most European nations, most South American countries, and Canada. It also includes Japan and the United Arab Emirates.
Globally, Ireland ranks 6th when it comes to travel freedom. An Irish passport allows you to spend up to 180 days at a time in Peru, Panama, and Mexico. You can stay up to 6 months in Barbados, Canada, and Japan. This makes the Irish passport favorable to many foreign citizens, especially those that travel often.
Another benefit to Irish citizenship is the ability to vote in Irish elections. And, not only can you vote in elections, but you can run in an election for a position in the Irish government.
To Sum Things Up:
The Irish government allows foreign nationals to become Irish citizens in several ways. You can do so through ancestry or naturalization — and naturalization takes even less time if you’re married to a current Irish citizen.
And Ireland also allows for dual citizenship. That way, you can retain your passport from your home country and enjoy the travel freedom that comes with having an Irish passport.
There are other benefits, as well.
The cost of living in Ireland can be high if you live in or near a major city. But heating costs, satellite TV, and other incidentals that add up can be quite low compared to the U.S. And although many expats opt for international major medical insurance in Ireland, there is socialized, or subsidized, healthcare.
Note: being an Irish citizen will not automatically make you a British citizen. Both countries allow dual citizenship, but you would have to apply for British citizenship separately.
Are you curious about other nations? Check out our article on how to get citizenship in another country.