There are many benefits that come with having Irish citizenship. For one, since Ireland is part of the EU, you will have the right to carry an Irish passport, travel without restrictions across the European Union, and vote in Irish elections. There are two main ways one can become a citizen of Ireland, which are through naturalization and through birth or descent.
However, some are lucky enough to be able to obtain Irish citizenship through birth or descent. Besides, many people who were born outside Ireland, and who have never visited the country, maybe Irish citizens through an ancestral connection. While the process of becoming an Irish citizen for someone who has no family ties to Ireland is a bit more complicated.
In this article, we will give an overview of how to become an Irish citizen through naturalization. However, note that the information on this page is for guidance only. You can read the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Acts for a complete description of citizenship by naturalization.
How to Get Irish Citizenship Through Naturalization
Just as we mentioned earlier, many people who were born outside Ireland, and who have never visited the country, maybe Irish citizens through an ancestral connection. In such circumstances, you may be an Iris citizen:
If you or your parent were born on the island of Ireland before 2005, you are an Irish citizen. You can apply for an Irish passport without making an application for citizenship. However, if you, or your parent, were born on the island of Ireland on or after 1 January 2005, then your right to Irish citizenship depends on:
- the parents’ citizenship at the time of the birth; or
- the residency history of one of the parents before the birth
If you do not have any family ties to Ireland, but wish to become an Irish citizen, you can do through naturalization. You can become an Irish citizen by naturalization if you meet certain criteria, based on issues such as length of time living in Ireland or marriage to an Irish citizen.
What Does Naturalization Mean?
Naturalization is a process whereby a non-Irish national can apply to become an Irish citizen subject to satisfying certain conditions for naturalization. However, the naturalization of a foreigner as an Irish citizen is a discretionary power held by the Irish Minister for Justice. Naturalization is granted on a number of criteria including good character, residence in the state, and intention to continue residing in the state.
In order to apply for Irish citizenship, you must be living in Ireland for at least 5 years prior to application. That is to say, you must have entered the country on an Iris long-stay visa (if you are subject to Irish visas) and obtained an Irish Residence Permit (IRP). Then, in the case of a refugee or a stateless person, the Minister will normally waive 2 of the 5 years’ reckonable residence requirement, meaning that 3 years will be satisfactory.
Eligibility Requirements for Irish Citizenship Through Naturalization
The conditions for Irish citizenship through naturalization were set out in the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956 as amended. However, you are eligible to become a citizen of Ireland through naturalization if you meet the requirements according to these criteria:
You must be over 18 at the time of application. Moreover, you can apply on behalf of a child if the child:
- was born in Ireland after 1 January 2005 and did not qualify for citizenship by birth – use Form 11 on the INIS website
- is of Irish descent – use Form 10 on the INIS website
- is a naturalized citizen – use Form 9 on the INIS website
You must be ‘of good character.’ To prove this, you must ask the Garda Síochána (meaning “the Guardian of the Peace”; the national police service of the Republic of Ireland) for a report about your background.
Residence in the State
You must have lived in the State for a certain length of time. You must:
- have a period of 365 days (1 year) continuous residence in the State immediately before the date of your application for naturalization
- have spent 1,460 days, or 4 years, in the State in the 8 years before that.
To sum up, you must have spent 5 of the past 9 years in residence in Ireland. Moreover, in principle, the residence requirement is three years if married to an Irish citizen, and five years out of the last nine, including the year immediately before.
Time spent seeking asylum will not be counted. Nor will the time spent as an illegal immigrant. Time spent studying in the state by a national of a non-EEA state (i.e. a state other than European Union Member States, Iceland, Norway, and Liechtenstein) will not count.
Furthermore, you can spend up to 6 weeks per year outside of Ireland and still be considered a resident. If you had to leave Ireland for longer than 6 weeks because of an emergency, you should explain this in your application.
If you spend more than 6 weeks outside of Ireland in the year immediately before your application, you may have to wait until the following year to make an application.
However, the Minister for Justice may waive the residency requirement for:
- the children of naturalized citizens;
- recognized refugees;
- stateless children;
- those residents abroad in the service of the Irish state; and
- people of “Irish descent or Irish associations”.
How to Apply for Irish Citizenship Through Naturalization
You should follow these step-by-step guide below to apply for naturalization if you wish to become an Irish citizen:
1. Check if you qualify
Firstly, to become an Irish citizen through naturalization, you must meet the aforementioned conditions that are set out in the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956 as amended.
Calculating reckonable residence:
Reckonable residence means residence in Ireland that counts towards becoming eligible to apply for naturalization. It is the number of days you have lived in Ireland before you submit your application for Irish citizenship through naturalization.
If you are from outside the EEA, the UK, and Switzerland, you can prove you meet the reckonable residence requirements by adding up the duration of your permission stamps. Moreover, certain periods of residence are counted towards the reckonable residence you need to qualify for naturalization. Some examples of periods that are counted for reckonable residence include time spent:
- in Ireland on an employment permit (usually with a Stamp 1 Irish Residence Permit)
- on a Stamp 4
- as the dependent of an employment permit or other legal resident (usually with Stamp 3)
- as the spouse or partner of a Critical Skills Employment Permit holder or researcher (with Stamp 1G)
- on a Stamp 5 (Without Condition as to Time)
However, if you are a citizen of an EEA country, Switzerland, or the UK, you do not have to enclose a ‘reckonable residence’ calculation with your application. You have to show your residence by enclosing documentary evidence of your history in Ireland. The application form has a list of documents that are suitable for this purpose.
Note: The EEA includes the EU and Norway, Iceland, and Lichtenstein.
Moreover, you do not have to register for an Irish Residence Permit if you are a citizen of the EEA, Switzerland, or the UK. All periods of residence in Ireland are counted towards naturalization. You do not have to include a printout from the reckonable residence calculator with your application.
2. Fill in an application form
Secondly, you have to submit the Irish citizenship application to the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS). There are different application forms that you can download from their website that are specific to your situation.
Therefore, you must use the current versions of the application forms on the Immigration Service Delivery website.
The current application forms are Form:
- 8 for a person aged 18 or over.
- 9 for the minor child of a naturalized Irish citizen.
- 10 should be completed online by parents of a minor child of Irish descent or Irish associations.
- 11 should be completed online by a parent or guardian of a minor child born in the State who was not entitled to Irish citizenship at birth.
You should read the notes attached to the forms carefully. You should not leave any questions blank. If a question does not apply to you, you should write ‘N/A’ (not applicable). You can get help with the application from your local Citizens Information Service. You can also pay a solicitor to complete it for you.
3. Gather your documentation
The supporting documents you need depend on your situation. If your documents are in a language other than English, you must get them translated by a professional translating service.
However, there are different requirements according to the form or type of application. But in all cases, you will need to provide evidence of your identity and nationality.
Moreover, you also need to send copies of documents relating to your status and the duration of your stay in the State. This may include:
- Your Irish Residence Permit (IRP)
- Your declaration of refugee status or subsidiary protection
- Letters from the Department of Justice granting your permission to remain
However, you can find a full list of the documents you need to send on your application form naturalization.
4. Make a decision
After you must have completed the application form and are ready to send the form and supporting documents, you will have to have to make a statutory declaration. A statutory declaration is a way of swearing that something is true. It is a written statement and must be witnessed by someone who is authorized to witness your declaration.
However, your witness must be either a:
- commissioner for oaths
- notary public
- peace commissioner
Furthermore, note that all adult applicants must complete a declaration. If your application is based on your marriage or civil partnership with an Irish citizen, your Irish citizen spouse or civil partner must also make a declaration.
Moreover, if you choose to use a solicitor to witness your statutory declaration, you will be charged a fee. You must also ask your witness to sign and date the back of the 2 color passport photos that you must send with your application.
5. Submit your application and pay the fee
You should check your form before sending it and make sure you have all the documents that you have to send copied and included. The form has a detailed checklist that you should follow. Moreover, the INIS may ask for more documents when processing your application, and so you should provide them as soon as possible in order for your application to be processed as soon as possible.
You have to pay a processing fee of €175 via bank draft to the Secretary-General, Department of Justice and Equality. Note that this must be a banker’s draft. No other type of payment is accepted. You can get a banker’s draft from any bank (you don’t have to have an account with the bank). However, you will not receive a refund of this payment in case of denial of your application.
After You Apply
The processing time for most applications for naturalization is within 12 months. But within one week of submitting the application, the Immigration Service Delivery (ISD) will notify you if it passed the initial processing stage. However, the processing time will be delayed if more documents are required or in case you submitted the wrong documentation.
Then, if your application is successful. The Immigration Service Delivery (ISD) will notify you via an approval letter. Then, you will need to:
- Pay the Certification Fee:
- Application on behalf of a minor: €200
- Widow, widower, or surviving civil partner of Irish citizen: €200
- Refugee, stateless person or program refugee: No charge
- Others (regular applications): €950
- Send your Irish Residence Permit (IRP) if you are from a country outside the EEA, Switzerland, and the UK
Irish Citizenship Ceremony
Moreover, you may also need to attend a citizenship ceremony. This is after the approval and payment of the relevant fees for your application for Irish citizenship. The Citizenship Ceremony takes place twice a year and you will receive an invitation 4 to 5 weeks before. Thousands of foreign nationals become naturalized at these ceremonies.
At the ceremony, you make a declaration of fidelity and loyalty. You then receive your naturalization certificate. Moreover, you are not able to apply for an Irish passport until you have received your naturalization certificate.
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Benefits of Irish Citizenship
A person with Irish citizenship can apply for an Irish passport. An Irish passport serves as evidence of Irish nationality and citizenship of the European Union. An Irish passport enables the bearer to travel internationally and is able to do the following:
- Enjoy fundamental rights as set out in the Irish Constitution
- Live, work, study and travel in Ireland and the UK
- Live, work, study and travel in the EU/EAA
- Access free education
- Vote in Irish and European elections
- Run for office in government
- Enjoy diplomatic support outside of Ireland
- Hold dual/multiple citizenships
- Pass Irish citizenship to your children
Most countries do not accept dual citizenship. Ireland does not require new Irish citizens to renounce their previous citizenship. Therefore, you can have Irish dual citizenship, provided that your country of nationality also accepts dual citizenship. However, if you are from countries that do not accept dual citizenship such as Singapore. You will have to renounce your Singapore citizenship before becoming an Irish citizen.