Frequently asked Questions about Irish Citizenship and Naturalisation
- I was born and am living in Northern Ireland. I don’t hold any passport. Am I an Irish citizen?
- I was born and am living in Northern Ireland. I hold a UK passport. Am I an Irish citizen?
- My child was born in Ireland after 1st January, 2005, are they an Irish citizen?
- What is Citizenship by Descent?
- What happens to my application after I submit it?
- Can my spouse and children apply at the same time?
- How is my period of residency calculated ?
- How do I know if I have sufficient qualifying residency?
- What does "good character" mean?
- If I apply for Irish citizenship will I have to surrender my existing citizenship?
- What happens if I leave the State while my application is being processed?
- Why did my friend, who applied at the same time to me, receive a decision on their application before me?
- If my application has been refused when can I apply again?
FOLLOWING APPROVAL OF AN APPLICATION
NEW VERSIONS OF NATURALISATION APPLICATION FORMS
- I am in the process of completing an application but a new version of the application form has now been published. Can I complete this application?
- Q. I was born and am living in Northern Ireland. I don’t hold any passport. Am I an Irish citizen?
A. If you were born in Ireland prior to 1 January 2005 then you are entitled to be an Irish citizen. If you were born on or after 1 January 2005 and one of your parents was an Irish or British citizen or was entitled to reside in the State or Northern Ireland without any restrictions on his or her residence then you have an entitlement to Irish citizenship. If this does not apply to your parents you may still have an entitlement to Irish citizenship if either of your parents, immediately preceding your birth, had reckonable residence in the island of Ireland of three years in the previous four years and neither parent was entitled to diplomatic immunity in the State. You don’t have to obtain an Irish passport in order to be an Irish citizen (though having an Irish passport is of course a convenient way of showing that you are an Irish citizen).
- Q. I was born and am living in Northern Ireland. I hold a UK passport. Am I an Irish citizen?
A. If you were born in Ireland prior to 1 January 2005 then you are entitled to be an Irish citizen. If you were born on or after 1 January 2005 and one of your parents was an Irish or British citizen, or if either of your parents was entitled to reside in the State or Northern Ireland without any restrictions on his or her residence, then you have an entitlement to Irish citizenship. If this does not apply to your parents, you may still have an entitlement to Irish citizenship if either of your parents, immediately preceding your birth, had reckonable residence in the island of Ireland of three years in the four years immediately prior to your birth and neither parent was entitled to diplomatic immunity in the State. You don’t have to obtain an Irish passport in order to be an Irish citizen (though having an Irish passport is of course a convenient way of showing that you are an Irish citizen). As far as Irish law is concerned, there is no difficulty about holding Irish citizenship and at the same time citizenship of another State such as the United Kingdom.
- Q. My child was born in Ireland after 1st January, 2005, are they an Irish citizen?
A. The Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act, 2004, which commenced on 1 January, 2005 provides that certain non-Irish nationals are required to be resident in the island of Ireland for three years in the four year period immediately prior to the birth of their child, for that child to be entitled to Irish citizenship. This altered the previous situation whereby a child born in the island of Ireland was automatically entitled to Irish citizenship. Information on making an application for a passport for a child born on or after 1 January, 2005 can be found on the Department of Foreign Affairs website www.dfa.ie.
- Q. What is Citizenship by Descent?
A. A person whose father or mother was an Irish citizen at the time of his/her birth is automatically an Irish citizen. A person whose grandfather or grandmother was born in Ireland may become an Irish citizen by registering in the Foreign Births Register at an Irish Embassy or Consular Office or at the Department of Foreign Affairs. A person whose great-grandfather or great-grandmother was born in Ireland may register for Irish citizenship provided that their parents had registered in the Foreign Births Register at the time of the person’s birth.
- Q.What happens to my application after I submit it?
A. Upon receipt, an initial examination of each application is carried out to determine if the statutory application form has been fully completed and that all required documentation has been submitted. Applications that have been improperly completed will be refused. If required documentation has been omitted, then a 28 day period will be afforded to the applicant to lodge the outstanding documentation, at which stage the application will be refused if the required documents have not been lodged. Valid applications are then examined to determine if the applicant meets the statutory residency criteria set out in the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act, 1956, as amended. Passports and other documentation are examined in detail and enquiries with the Garda National Immigration Bureau may also be necessary. Applicants are informed of any shortfall in their residency, within a matter of weeks from the date the application is received, and will be able to make a new application when they have the required residency. An assessment of an applicant’s financial status is conducted. Enquiries are made with the Garda Síochána to verify information provided by the applicant and determine if the applicant can be deemed to be of good character. Depending on the complexity of any given case, these processes can take a lengthy time to complete. Once all enquiries are completed, the file is referred to the Minister for Justice and Equality for a decision.
- Q. Can my spouse and children apply at the same time?
A. Any person over 18 years of age who fulfils the statutory criteria can apply for a certificate of naturalisation. An application on behalf of a minor child cannot be made until one of their parents is naturalised, unless they were born in the State or are of Irish associations. In this context Irish associations are defined as being related by blood, affinity or adoption to an Irish citizen.
- Q. How is my period of residency calculated ?
A. Permission to remain in the State is a matter of vital importance for all applicants for Citizenship. Applicants must ensure that their registration with the Garda National Immigration Bureau, 13/14 Burgh Quay, Dublin 2, is kept up to date during their residency in this country.
Residency permissions are evidenced by stamps in your passport. Additional periods may be covered by letters that were issued by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service only granting you permission for a specific period from or to a specified date, although failure to register with the Garda National Immigration Bureau within a reasonable period will be taken into account in assessing your application.
These arrangements are on the basis that the person with residence permission is also physically resident. Where there are significant absences from the State during the currency of permission further enquiries may be necessary and your application may be refused.
Dependant minors, who entered the State with their parent(s) as part of a family unit are deemed to be covered by their parent’s permission for the purposes of this application while attending secondary school and may continue to be covered up to age 23 where they have been continuously dependent on their parents and have continued from secondary school in the State directly into third level education.
- Q. How do I know if I have sufficient qualifying residency?
A. As stated above qualifying residency is determined by reference to qualifying permissions issued on behalf of the Minister by an Irish Immigration Officer and stamped on your passport. To provide you with a general indication as to whether you have sufficient qualifying residency for a naturalisation application an ONLINE RESIDENCY CHECKER has been made available on the INIS website and can be accessed by clicking here.
Residence is now calculated in days – you must have residency permission for the 365 days immediately prior to the date of application (366 days if permission encompasses 29th February) plus 1,460 days in the 8 years prior to that period (+1 day for any period encompassing 29th February).
Please note that certain stamps are not reckonable for naturalisation purposes. These include study related permissions: 1A, 2, 2A and temporary permissions granted while you were applying for asylum. Please note that gaps between stamps are periods of unlawful residence and are also not reckonable.
- Q. What does "good character" mean?
A. Good character means that you show respect for the laws of the State. In this regard vetting and background checks will be conducted. This will involve enquiries with An Garda Síochána and enquiries may also be made with other agencies.
You must give details of all criminal convictions both within and outside the State in the relevant section of the application form, including road traffic offences. You must provide details of any offences for which you have been arrested but have not been formally charged. Please note that if you are arrested or charged with an offence after you have made your application you must inform the citizenship section of it.
In relation to questions 11.9 and 11.10 on Form8 or 10.9 and 10.10 on Form11, if you do not regard something you have done as an act of terrorism but others do or might, you must include details of it in the ADDITIONAL DETAILS section.
If you have failed to disclose any material facts then your application is unlikely to be successful.
- Q. If I apply for Irish citizenship will I have to surrender my existing citizenship?
A. As far as Irish law is concerned, there is no difficulty about holding Irish citizenship and at the same time citizenship of another State. Some other countries, however, have citizenship laws which do not permit the holding of another citizenship alongside their own, or place restrictions on the holding of more than one citizenship. If you are already a citizen of another country and are considering becoming an Irish citizen (whether by exercising an entitlement, making a declaration or applying for naturalisation), you would be well advised to check first what the position is under the law of your present country of citizenship, in case any step you might take might be regarded under that law as depriving you of that citizenship.
- Q. What happens if I leave the State while my application is being processed?
A. If you are leaving the State on a temporary basis, it would be preferable that you advise the Department of the circumstances, so that officials will be aware of the situation if they need to contact you in relation to your application. The legal provisions governing naturalisation require that a naturalised person continue to reside in the State after naturalisation, and any long-term absences will be assessed in that light.
- Q. Why did my friend, who applied at the same time as me, receive a decision on their application before me?
A. Each application is assessed on an individual basis and the amount of time required to gather all of the necessary information varies from application to application. As soon as all of the required information is available, a submission is prepared and the case is forwarded to the Minister for Justice and Equality. The Minister then makes a decision on the application in his or her absolute discretion.
- Q. If my application has been refused when can I apply again?
A. An application for a certificate of naturalisation can be made at any time and there is no exclusion period following the refusal of a previous application. However, an applicant should bear in mind any reason or reasons for refusal when considering making a fresh application. It would be advisable to demonstrate a reasonable period of time without any issues arising before making a further application as this may increase the chance of success. However, the granting or refusal of an application for a certificate of naturalisation is at the absolute discretion of the Minister for Justice and Equality.
Following approval of an application
- Q. Can I have the fee waived?
A. Fees payable under the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended are prescribed in Regulations and cannot be waived.
- Q. How do I get an Irish passport?
A. Every Irish citizen can apply for a passport. Responsibility for granting passports lies with the Minister for Foreign Affairs. The Department of Foreign Affairs processes all applications for passports, either through the Passport Office in Dublin or Cork (if you are resident in Ireland), via the Passport express service at your local post office or from your nearest Irish embassy or consular office (if resident abroad). Your passport application may need to be supported by documentation showing that you are, or are entitled to be, an Irish citizen. Full information about obtaining a passport is available from the Department of Foreign Affairs website at www.dfa.ie.
New Versions of Naturalisation Application Forms
- Q. I am in the process of completing an application but a new version of the application form has now been published. Can I complete this application?
A. No. You should download the current version of the application form and complete it.