Citizenship and Naturalisation
Naturalisation is the process by which a foreign national living in Ireland may apply to become an Irish citizen. Since citizenship ceremonies began in 2011, over 110,000 people have received their citizenship certificates at a citizenship ceremony.
We have recently seen an increase in queries from people with Irish ancestry who want to know if they qualify for Irish citizenship. Below we will give you information on who is an Irish citizen and how to apply for naturalisation.
Citizenship through birth
If you were born on the island of Ireland before 01st January 2005, you automatically qualify for Irish citizenship. After this date, the criteria for citizenship changed and Irish citizenship was no longer automatically granted to everyone born in Ireland. From 01st January 2005, to qualify as an Irish citizen if:
- One or more of your parents was an Irish citizen at the time of your birth;
- One or more of your parents was a British citizen at the time of your birth;
- One or more of your parents had refugee status in Ireland at the time of your birth;
- One or more of your parents was legally resident (except as a student or as an asylum seeker) for three of the four years before your birth.
Citizenship through descent (family)
You may qualify for Irish citizenship if you were born outside the island of Ireland if, at the time of your birth:
- One or more of your parents is/was an Irish citizen;
- One or more of your grandparents is/was an Irish citizen and born on the island of Ireland.
If you meet one of the above criteria and you would like to apply for an Irish passport, you will need to register on the Irish Foreign Birth Register first. This process involves completing an online form and submitting documents to your Irish embassy/consulate. takes 6 months and costs in the region of €278 for adults and €153 for children. For more information and for the online form see the Department of Foreign Affairs website.
Citizenship by Naturalisation as an adult
If you do not meet any of the above criteria, you may still be eligible to apply to become an Irish citizen through the naturalisation process. Before you apply for Irish citizenship, you should check whether your current county of nationality will permit you to keep that citizenship if you also become an Irish citizenship (dual nationalities). For example, Chinese law does not allow Chinese citizens to keep their Chinese citizenship if they naturalise as a citizen of another State.
If you are an adult living in Ireland and want to apply to naturalise as an Irish citizen then you will have to meet certain residency requirement (length of time in Ireland). Time spent in Ireland as an international student or as an asylum seeker (unless you are now a refugee) will not be included when calculating the length of your time in Ireland. The time that you can count towards your residency requirements is known as your reckonable residence in the State. For most adults, you must prove that you have 5 years of residence in Ireland in the past 9 years. If you are married to an Irish citizen, or you are a refugee you can apply after 3 years of residence. You must also show that you were continuously resident in Ireland for the year immediately prior to your registration. If you are not an EEA national you can check whether you have sufficient reckonable residence on the Residency Calculator. If you are an EEA national, you will not be able to use the calculator and will instead be asked to prove your residence in the State by providing three different proofs of address for each year that you have lived here.
Katie came to Ireland as an international student in 2014. In 2015, she was granted an employment permit and she has been resident in the State on a Stamp 1 since. Katie’s reckonable residence begins from 2016 and she will be able to apply for naturalisation in 2020.
Nassar came to Ireland in 2015 and applied for asylum. He was granted refugee status in 2017. Because Nassar has refugee status now, his reckonable residence can be calculated from the date he applied for refugee status. Nassar will be eligible to apply for naturalisation in 2018.
Selena came to Ireland in 2014 and applied for asylum. She was granted temporary permission to remain in Ireland in 2016 and has been renewing her residence since. Selena’s reckonable residence begins in 2016 when she was granted leave to remain and she will need to wait until 2021 to become eligible to apply for naturalisation.
Jacob is a French national. He came to Ireland in 2005 and stayed in Ireland for 2 years. He left Ireland in 2007. He came back to Ireland in 2014. Jacob will not be able to count his residence in Ireland between 2005 and 2007 as it is longer than 9 years ago. He will not be eligible to apply until 2019.
To make an application for naturalisation, you will need to complete a Form 8. This is available on the INIS website. The fee to make an application is €175 and this is not refundable if your application is refused or you do not meet the eligibility criteria. You should expect that your application will take at least 6 months to be processed. If your application is successful, you will have to pay an additional fee of €950 (this fee is reduced to €200 if you are the widow/er of an Irish citizen and free if you are a refugee) and you will be invited to attend a Citizenship Ceremony where you will swear an oath of allegiance to Ireland and receive your Certificate of Naturalisation.
Citizenship by Naturalisation for Children
If you would like to apply for naturalisation for your child, there are a number of different factors to consider. Firstly, the application must be made by the child’s parent, legal guardian or person acting on the child's behalf 'in loco parentis'. There are three different naturalisation options to consider:
If you are a parent who is a naturalised Irish citizen and you want to apply for your child who is resident in Ireland, you can apply for the child’s naturalisation using a Form 9.
If neither you nor the child’s other parent are naturalised yet, but the child is of Irish descent or has Irish associations you can apply using Form 10.
If neither you nor the child’s other parent are naturalised yet, but your child was born in Ireland and has been legally resident as part of a family unit for 5 years you can apply using Form 11.
The application fee for children is €175 and there is a further fee of €200 if the application is successful. The child will not be required to attend the Citizenship Ceremony and will receive their naturalisation certificate in the post.
If you think you would like to apply for naturalisation in the future, you can start preparing now:
- Find your birth certificate and, if it’s not in English, have a certified translation made.
- Unless you are a refugee, keep your passport up to date.
- Keep your residence up to date ie renew your Residence Permit/GNIB Card on time. This is particularly important for the year before you plan to apply for naturalisation.
- Keep several proofs of address eg utility bills, leases, letters from the Revenue Commissioners etc for each year you have been living in Ireland.
- If you are fined or charged with an offence, it is important that you keep documentary evidence of this and any receipts which show that you have paid your fines.
- The requirement to reside continuously in Ireland does not mean that you cannot go on holidays. The current Form 8 only asks for information about years where you have been out of the State for 6 weeks or more.
- However, don’t plan any holidays or travel immediately after you make your application – your original passport is submitted with the application and may be kept by INIS for several weeks.
- Have a plan to ensure that you keep your Residence Permit up to date while your application for naturalisation is being processed. The application process can take considerably longer than 6 months and you need to ensure that you remain legally resident in the State during this time.