Overview of Irish Citizenship by Naturalisation
Naturalisation can be defined as both a conscious decision of a foreign national to become a citizen of another country and a legal process defined by a sovereign state to confer citizenship on foreign nationals.
Irish citizenship by naturalisation is a legal process, as defined by the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Acts 1956-2004, through which a foreign national can become an Irish citizen. Statistically speaking, most foreign nationals intending to become Irish citizens take the route of citizenship by naturalisation.
If you are a foreign national residing legally in any of the the 26 counties of the Republic of Ireland (also referred to as the ‘State’) for five years or more, you may apply to become an Irish citizen through the legal process of naturalisation.
If you are a foreign national legally married or are a civil partner to an Irish citizen, you may apply for Irish citizenship by naturalisation after living legally on the island of Ireland for three years.
However, there will be several other requirements to meet in both scenarios before you can apply to become an Irish citizen by naturalisation.
Immigration Service Delivery (ISD) reviews the applications for Irish citizenship by naturalisation on behalf of the Minister for Justice. The Minister, however, has the final authority to decide whether or not an applicant will be granted citizenship.
- Overview of Irish Citizenship by Naturalisation
- Am I Eligible to Apply for Irish Citizenship by Naturalisation?
- What Is Reckonable Residency And How Can I Calculate It?
- Exemptions to Reckonable Residency
- Other Eligibility Requirements for Irish Citizenship by Naturalisation
- When the Minister of Justice Can Waive Eligibility Requirements
- How Do I Apply for Irish Citizenship by Naturalisation?
- What Documents Do I Need to Apply for Irish Citizenship by Naturalisation?
- Processing Time
- What If My Application Has Been Refused?
- What If My Application Has Been Approved?
- How Can IAS Help?
- Frequently Asked Questions
Am I Eligible to Apply for Irish Citizenship by Naturalisation?
The first and foremost requirement a foreign national wishing to apply for Irish citizenship by naturalisation must meet is that of length of residency in the country.
In general, you need to be a legal resident in the State for at least five years out of the previous nine years, including one year of continuous residence immediately before your application date.
As a spouse or civil partner of an Irish citizen, a foreign national is required to reside legally on the island of Ireland for a period of at least three years. In this case, you can count legal residence in Northern Ireland as well.
What Is Reckonable Residency And How Can I Calculate It?
An adult foreign national, who is from outside the EEA (i.e. the European Union, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein), the UK and Switzerland, or is not recognised as a refugee, must pay attention to the concept of ‘reckonable’ residency.
A reckonable residence refers to residence in the State (or in the island of Ireland for spouses and civil partners of Irish citizens) that counts while calculating the applicant’s length of stay in Ireland. Usually, time spent in Ireland on stamps 1, 1G, 3, 4, 5 are counted as reckonable residency.
However, time spent as an international student (generally with a Stamp 2 or Stamp 2A) or as an asylum seeker (unless you have been granted refugee status later on) will not be counted. Time spent in the State while you were undocumented will also not be considered for the reckonable residency calculation purpose.
It is advisable to use the online residency calculator on the Department of Justice website to check if you meet the reckonable residency conditions. To calculate the length of your reckonable residence on this calculator, first check the type(s) of Irish immigration stamps you have on your passport and your Irish Resident Permit (IRP) card. You need to fill in the start and end dates of all your Irish immigration stamps on the calculator to determine the total length of your reckonable residency period.
If you are a foreign national legally married to or in a civil partnership with an Irish citizen, you need three years of reckonable residency instead of five years.
If you are unsure about how to calculate your reckonable residency status in Ireland, you may seek professional immigration advice. You can reach us online or call us on (+353) 061 518 025 to speak to one of our immigration experts today.
Exemptions to Reckonable Residency
The condition of reckonable residency does not apply in cases of young adults, minor children, persons with refugee status, or EEA, UK and Swiss nationals.
If you are a young adult and do not have the required length of reckonable residence yourself, you can use your parent’s reckonable residence. To be considered a young adult, you must:
- be within 18-23 years of age at the time of your citizenship by naturalisation application
- have entered the State lawfully with your family
- be in secondary school or have gone straight to third level college in the State from school
- be financially dependent on your parents
Minor children (i.e. aged less than 18 years) of parents who have received citizenship by naturalisation must have lived in Ireland for three years to apply for the same.
If you have been granted refugee status in Ireland, you can apply for citizenship by naturalisation after completing three years of residency from the date of your arrival.
If you are an adult foreign national from the UK, Switzerland or an EEA country, a reckonable residence calculation is not required in your case. You need to provide documentary evidence of your residence history in Ireland with your application. We will discuss that further in the required documentation section of this article.
Other Eligibility Requirements for Irish Citizenship by Naturalisation
Apart from the residency requirement, a foreign national must also meet the following criteria to be eligible to apply for Irish citizenship by naturalisation.
- The applicant must be 18 years of age (or married if under 18 years)
- The applicant must be of ‘good character’
- The applicant must intend in good faith to continue to reside in the State (or the island of Ireland in cases of spouse/civil partners to Irish citizens) after naturalisation
- The applicant will attend a citizenship ceremony if their citizenship application is approved and make the declaration of fidelity and loyalty to Ireland
Additionally, in cases of spouse/civil partners to Irish citizens, they must be married or in the civil partnership for three years.
Please note that there is no legal definition of what ‘good character’ means in this context. Ireland’s national police, the Garda Síochána, put together a background report for each applicant and submit the same to the Minister of Justice. This report may contain your criminal record, traffic offences, pending criminal cases, certain civil cases as well as any ongoing investigations against you.
The applicants are provided with an opportunity to declare any such scenarios on the application form, where they can also explain the circumstances that led to police action in these cases.
When the Minister of Justice Can Waive Eligibility Requirements
The Minister of Justice has the power to waive one or more of the aforementioned eligibility requirements for citizenship by naturalisation if:
- The applicant is of Irish descent or of Irish associations (i.e. related through blood, affinity or adoption to a person who is or is entitled to be an Irish citizen, including deceased citizens)
- The applicant has been a resident abroad in the Irish public service
- The applicant has been recognised as a refugee or a stateless person
Fill In the Application Form
Once you have confirmed your eligibility, please start applying for Irish citizenship by naturalisation with filling up the required forms. The application process is paper-based, so please download your relevant form from the Department of Justice’s website.
Adult foreign nationals (including the UK, Switzerland and EEA nationals), young adults, spouse/civil partners of Irish citizens, refugees, and adults with Irish associations will be using Form 8, whereas Form 9 is used for applications made by naturalised Irish parents/legal guardians on behalf of their minor children. Form 10 is for minors of Irish descent or Irish associations.
Form 11 is for applications made on behalf of minors born in the State from 1 January 2005 onwards who had been legally resident for five years in the State as part of a family unit, but neither of whose parents are naturalised Irish citizens yet.
Please ensure that you are using the latest version of the form relevant for your case. Each form contains a guide and checklist. Please read the instructions carefully. Incorrect or incomplete application forms will be rejected and returned to you, and you will have to start the whole process again.
Please do not leave any field blank. Please write ‘N/A’ (i.e. not applicable) if anything does not apply to you. Cross out any mistakes and write your initials to show that you have made a change.
After filling up the form, please sign the same in front of a witness. It is mentioned on the form who can be a suitable witness.
Please send the duly signed and witnessed form to the Department of Justice along with the supporting documents.
Arrange Required Supporting Documents
The documents you need to support your application vary from case to case. However, in all instances, proof of identity and nationality will be required.
Please get your documents translated to English by a professional translating service if they are in a different language. Furthermore, some of your documents may have to be certified as ‘true copies’ by a solicitor, notary, commissioner for oaths, or a peace commissioner.
You have to explain your reason or circumstances in case you are unable to include the required documents or even copies of them.
Make Your Statutory Declaration
The next step in your application process is making a statutory declaration i.e. a written statement where you are swearing that the information you have provided is true. This declaration must be witnessed by a solicitor, notary, commissioner for oaths, or a peace commissioner.
All adult applicants are required to make a statutory declaration. If you are a spouse or civil partner of an Irish citizen and you are claiming Irish citizenship by naturalisation based on that, your Irish citizen spouse or civil partner will also need to make a statutory declaration.
You will also need the same witness to sign your two coloured passport photos on the back with date, to confirm that they are your photos as per the guidelines for completing an application for citizenship by naturalisation.
Pay Application Fees and Send Your Application by Post
You have to pay a nonrefundable application fee of 175 Euros before sending the completed form and other supporting documents to the Department of Justice. A bank draft drawn on an Irish bank and payable to the Secretary General, Department of Justice is the only acceptable mode of payment.
Please send your completed and signed application form, supporting documents and the bank draft to Citizenship Division, Immigration Service Delivery (ISD) to complete the application process. Check the full address provided on your form before posting your application.
The required documents for Irish citizenship by naturalisation include:
- Proof of identity
- Home Country National Identity document
- Laissez passer/Red Cross/UNHCR identify documents
- Irish Residence Permit Card
- Proof of residence
- Employment Detail Summary
- Copy of P60
- Department of Social Protection Annual Contribution
- Bank Statements
- Credit Card Statement
- Rent agreement
- Annual mortgage statement
- Phone Bill
- Utility Bill
- Medical Practitioner Employment History
- Marriage certificate or civil partnership certificate or relevant affidavit form if you are a spouse/civil partner of an Irish citizen and applying for citizenship on that basis
- Your birth certificate or relevant affidavit form
- Your spouse’s birth certificate (if you are married to an Irish citizen)
- Your current and old passports
- A printout of the online residency calculator page from the Department of Justice’s website unless you are a UK, Swiss or EEA citizen, or have refugee status in Ireland
- Details and signatures of three references. They must be Irish citizens who know you well enough to form an opinion about your character and are willing to act as a referee for you
- A copy of your letter granting you refugee status in the State, if applicable
- Two coloured passport photos signed with date on the back by the witness who have signed your statutory declaration
New applicants need to provide only a certified colour photocopy of the biometric page of their current passport since 20 April 2023. This photocopy must be certified by a solicitor, notary, commissioner for oaths, or a peace commissioner. ISD, however, may still ask the applicants to submit their full passport.
Applicants must submit sufficient evidence to prove their identity and residence. ISD introduced a scorecard system for these supporting documents in January 2022.
An applicant must score 150 points in identification and 150 points for each year of residence in Ireland. The predetermined point value for each type of supporting document can be found in the Citizenship Guidance document.
The scorecard system not only offers an applicant the freedom to choose from a wider variety of documents, but also acts as a checklist so that an applicant can be sure that they have enough evidence of identity and residence accompanying their application.
Retention of Supporting Document
ISD does not return any documents submitted with the application as per their policy to preserve the integrity of each applicant’s file.
Hence if you submit an original document, please ensure you have made a copy of the same for your future reference.
ISD takes around 19 months to process an application for Irish citizenship by naturalisation. However, processing time may vary on a case-to-case basis. You need to also factor in the time taken by the Garda Síochána to prepare your background report.
ISD may also get in touch with you during this period for additional documents or information. Please inform ISD if there is a change of address while you are awaiting a decision on your application, or if you are planning to be outside the State for longer than six weeks after submitting your application with reason thereof.
After processing an application, ISD submits their report regarding your application to the Minister of Justice. The Minister has the final authority to approve or reject your application.
What If My Application Has Been Refused?
In case of incorrect or incomplete forms, the application is straightaway returned to the applicant who needs to start the whole process again upon receiving that.
If any supporting documents are missing, applicants are given up to 28 days to provide them. Your application may be refused if you fail to submit those documents within the given timeline.
ISD will inform the applicant if their application has not been successful along with the reason for the same. The applicant is eligible to apply for Irish citizenship by naturalisation again at any time. They must pay particular attention to the reason for refusal of their previous application while re-applying.
Pay Certification Fee
In addition, you will need to pay a certification fee as applicable. The certification fee is 950 Euros for an adult, 200 Euros for a minor, and 200 Euros for a widow, widower or surviving civil partner of an Irish citizen. Refugees or recognised stateless persons do not have to pay any certification fee.
Only a bank draft drawn on an Irish bank and payable to the Secretary General, Department of Justice will be accepted.
Attend Citizenship Ceremony
The adult applicants must then attend a citizenship ceremony and make a declaration of fidelity and loyalty to Ireland. The Certificate of Naturalisation will be sent to their address by registered post after the ceremony.
Minors are not required to attend the citizenship ceremony. They will receive their Certificate of Naturalisation by post after the certification fee is paid.
Obtaining Irish citizenship by naturalisation is a complex process. Even if you meet the eligibility criteria, it is of utmost importance to fill up the relevant forms correctly and completely as well as submit all required documentation.
If the clause of reckonable residency applies to your case, you have to carefully consider whether you are meeting that criterion or not.
IAS can help.
Our team of sympathetic immigration lawyers have the required expertise to assist you, regardless of your personal circumstances or the complexity of your case.
If you are seeking overall advice with your naturalisation application or you would like an immigration expert to complete your citizenship application on your behalf, we are here for you. We also offer document and application checking services if you just need a final check to confirm that your documents and application adhere to ISD regulations.
Last modified on October 13th, 2023 at 8:55 am
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ISD typically takes 19 months for the processing of your application for citizenship by naturalisation. This cannot be fast-tracked per se.
However, please ensure that you have correctly and completely filled up the application form and submitted all required documentation to avoid any processing delay.
After you have received your Certificate of Naturalisation, please apply to the Department of Foreign Affairs for an Irish passport.
As of now, Ireland does not require citizenship applicants to be proficient in either English or Irish language.
Apart from enjoying the full privileges and rights of a citizen in Ireland, as an Irish citizen you will also be able to work or study in EU/EEA countries with no restrictions. Additionally, an Irish passport will entitle you to travel to 187 countries or territories without a visa.