How to get an Irish citizenship coming from the UK?

Gert Svaiko

Thinking of moving to Ireland from the UK? Perhaps you’d like to set up a business there, or are planning for retirement. Whichever is the case, you may be looking into applying for Irish citizenship.

There are quite a few benefits to having Irish citizenship. One of the most attractive is visa-free travel to 170 countries, along with the chance to live, work or study in the EU.

In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know on how to get Irish citizenship. This includes the eligibility requirements, a guide to the Irish citizenship application process, how long it takes and of course, how much it costs.

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What's the difference between permanent citizenship and permanent residence?

Citizens of Ireland have different rights (and responsibilities) compared to migrants holding permanent residence.

Irish citizens, for example, have the right to vote in elections. They can also access all state support services and apply for Irish passports, with all the rights to live and work in the EU as citizens of other EU member states.¹

A person with permanent residence has the legal right to stay in Ireland to work, study and live for an extended period. But crucially, they won’t have full citizenship and voting rights

How to apply and get an Irish citizenship?

There are a few different routes to apply for Irish citizenship. These are:

  • Citizenship through family
  • Citizenship through naturalisation (living in Ireland)
  • Citizenship through birth

So before you can apply, you’ll need to check which is the best fit for your circumstances and whether you meet the requirements of your chosen route.

If you were born in Ireland, you’re automatically entitled to citizenship.²

For the other routes, you’ll generally need to complete the relevant applicant form, gather supporting documents and submit everything to the relevant office.² There may be other processes involved, such as registering at the Foreign Births Register if applying for citizenship through descent.

What are the requirements to becoming a citizen of Ireland?

To become an Irish citizen through naturalisation, you will need to:²

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have moved to Ireland and lived there for five years - for example, to work, join family or retire in Ireland
  • Be able to demonstrate good character
  • Be willing to make a declaration of loyalty to Ireland.

It’s also possible to apply for citizenship through naturalisation by way of marriage or civil partnership to an Irish citizen. In this case, you’ll need to have lived in Ireland for just three years - and of course, you’ll need your marriage or civil partnership certificate.²

To apply for citizenship through descent, you’ll need to have at least one parent who was born in Ireland (and an Irish citizen) at the time of your birth. You may also be eligible if you have a grandparent born in Ireland.²

To take this route, you may need to first register your birth in the Foreign Births Register, which involves a fee of €278² and can take up to six months to process.¹

What documents will I need?

The paperwork you’ll need will depend on the route you’re taking to apply for Irish citizenship. But most applicants will need the following:²

  • A valid passport
  • Recent passport-sized colour photos of yourself
  • A certified copy of your birth certificate
  • A certified copy of your current Irish Residence Permit
  • Copies of ‘permission to remain’ letters issued by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service
  • Copies of bank statements for the last six months
  • A letter from your current employer
  • Copies of payslips from the last six months
  • A certified copy of your marriage/civil partnership certificate (if applicable).

If you’re registering your birth through the Foreign Births Register, you’ll also need birth certificates for your Irish parent/grandparent.

Can I have dual British-Irish citizenship?

Yes, it is possible to have dual British-Irish citizenship. According to Irish law, there is no requirement to give up another citizenship in order to become a citizen of Ireland.²

Can I obtain Irish citizenship through marriage?

If you marry or enter into a civil partnership with someone who is an Irish citizen, you may be eligible to apply for Irish citizenship. The route in this case will be obtaining Irish citizenship through naturalisation.

Here are the requirements you’ll need to meet:²

  • Aged 18 or over
  • Have been married to or in a civil partnership with an Irish citizen for at least 3 years - and have been living together for at least 3 years
  • Have been living in Ireland for at least 3 of the previous 5 years, including the year directly before the date of your application.
  • Have a certified copy of your marriage/civil partnership certificate, along with other required supporting documents.

Can I get Irish citizenship through investments?

There’s currently no specific route to become an Irish citizen directly through investment. However, Ireland does have something called the Immigrant Investor Programme (IIP). This offers a pathway for non-EEA nationals to secure legal residence in Ireland, provided they make a significant investment in Irish real estate, businesses, projects or investment funds.³

The IIP doesn’t grant permanent residence or citizenship. But successful applicants may later be able to apply for Irish citizenship by naturalisation once they’ve lived in Ireland for 5 years.

Can I obtain citizenship through descent or ancestry?

Yes, one of the main routes to Irish citizenship is through an Irish relative.

You may be eligible to apply through this route if you have a parent who was born in Ireland and was an Irish citizen at the time of your birth. You may also be eligible if you have a grandparent who is an Irish citizen.²

But unfortunately you can’t go any further back in your family tree than this. Nor can you claim citizenship based on any of your other Irish relatives, such as siblings, aunts/uncles or cousins.

Irish citizenship’s application fees and cost

Now, how much does Irish citizenship cost? There’s a non-refundable fee of €175² to put in your initial application. If it is rejected, you unfortunately won’t get this money back.

If successful, there’s a further fee of €950 (€200 for children) to pay for your official Certificate of Naturalisation. You’ll need to make your payment by bank draft payment, drawn on an Irish bank

If you’re applying for Irish citizenship by descent and need to register your birth in the Foreign Births Register, there’s an additional fee of €278

How long does the process take?

The processing time for applications all depends on which route to Irish citizenship you’re taking. Each case is treated as unique, and more complex cases can take longer.

But generally speaking, you should get a decision on your application within six months of submitting it.² If you’re missing documents or information, or have a particularly complicated case, the processing time can be extended.

After reading this guide, you should have a better understanding of what’s required in order to apply for Irish citizenship. And of course, whether there’s a route to citizenship that suits your circumstances.

If you don’t have a parent or grandparent who is an Irish citizen, your best bet as a UK citizen is to move to Ireland. Once you’ve lived there for a certain period of time, you can apply for citizenship by naturalisation. Just make sure you have all your documents ready, as any missing information could delay your application.

And once you have citizenship, you can then apply for your Irish passport and access all the other rights and benefits you’ll be entitled to as a citizen of Ireland.

Sources used:

  1. Immigrant Council of Ireland - Citizenship
  2. Immigration Advice Service - Irish Citizenship Application
  3. Ireland Department of Justice - I want to invest in Ireland

Sources last checked on date: 15-Dec-2022

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This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.

We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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