Do you want the ultimate EU citizenship, which offers more flexibility than any other?
Then this guide is for you! In this article, we’ll discuss how to get an Irish passport.
We’ll also provide some tips on how to make the process as smooth as possible. So, whether you’re a first-time applicant or you’ve already started the process and hit a snag, read on!
Benefits of Irish citizenship
There are many benefits to having Irish citizenship. For one, you can get dual citizenship, if you’re also a citizen of another country.
Additionally, as an Irish citizen, you will be a member of the European Union. This allows you to travel freely within the EU and have certain rights and protections while doing so. As an Irish citizen, you will also be able to work in any EU country without a work permit.
Not only that, but you’ll be able to study at university in any EU country with the same conditions as an EU student. You’ll also be able to retire freely to any of the EU countries.
You might think that all EU passports are created equal. But in fact, that’s not the case.
The Irish passport is the best passport in the whole EU, because it gives you more rights than any other.
Let me explain why.
Since the UK left the EU at the end of 2020, EU passport holders now have to meet certain conditions before they can live, work, or study in the UK.
All EU passport holders that is, except for the Irish. Irish citizens can still live, work, and study freely in the UK, despite Brexit.
That’s because of a long-standing agreement called the Common Travel Area (CTA), which was established long before the European Union came into existence. The CTA gives Irish citizens and UK citizens reciprocal rights in each other’s countries.
In short, an Irish passport not only gives you access to the entire EU and EEA, it also allows you to access everything in the UK. It’s the ultimate all-access passport.
What’s more, Ireland is a traditionally neutral country that’s well-regarded the world over. As the holder of an Irish passport, you’re unlikely to get into trouble abroad based on your citizenship.
And to top things off – Ireland has one of the world’s most powerful passports, allowing easy travel to 187 countries without arranging a visa in advance.
So how exactly can you get an Irish passport.
Let’s take a look at the different routes available, and which nationalities can access them.
In general, there are four different ways to get an Irish passport.
- Through descent
- Through marriage
- Through birth
- Through naturalization (multiple pathways available)
How to get an Irish passport by descent
There are four different ways to qualify for Irish citizenship by descent.
- You or one of your parents were born in Ireland before 2005. In this case, you’re already considered an Irish citizen and can apply directly for an Irish passport.
- You have an Irish parent who was born outside of Ireland. In this case, you’ll need to register with the Foreign Births Register before applying for Irish citizenship.
- You have a grandparent who was born in Ireland, but neither of your parents were. In this case, you can still become an Irish citizen, but you’ll first need to register with the Foreign Births Register.
- You have an a great grandparent who was born in Ireland, but none of their descendants were. In this case, you’re eligible for fast track naturalization, after just three years of residency in Ireland. However, you’ll still need to get a residency permit in order to establish proof of a strong connection with Ireland.
How to get Irish citizenship by marriage or civil partnership
To apply through marriage or civil partnership, you need to show proof of having been married or in the partnership for at least three years, along with at least three years of reckonable residence in Ireland.
The process of getting Irish citizenship by marriage or civil partnership is similar to citizenship by naturalization. The key difference is the shorter timeline – three years instead of the normal five years.
Keep in mind that marriage or civil partnership with an Irish national doesn’t give you an automatic right to Irish citizenship.
You’ll also need to prove good character, have provable links to Ireland and meet all the other eligibility requirements.
Bottom line: granting of Irish citizenship decisions is always at the discretion of Ireland’s Minister for Justice and Equality.
What is the ‘good character’ requirement?
Similar to the UK, Irish citizenship applications also include a need for the applicant to demonstrate ‘being of good character’.
That sounds pretty vague, so let’s demystify it for you.
Here are the criteria for judging ‘good character’ in an Irish citizenship application (please note, this is not an exhaustive list):
- Criminal record, including non-custodial sentences like fines or community service
- International crimes, such as terrorism, money laundering, and forms of corruption
- Lack of financial soundness, such as owing tax to the authorities of Ireland
- Dishonesty and deception, such as failing to disclose important information
- Non-compliance with Irish immigration requirements
- Having been deprived of citizenship of another country in the past
If any of these are an issue for you, we recommend working with an Irish immigration lawyer when you apply for Irish citizenship.
Irish citizenship and ‘reckonable residence’
To be successful when applying for Irish citizenship by naturalization, you’ll typically need to prove two different kinds of residence: legal residence and reckonable residence.
Let’s examine what these two concepts involve, so you don’t get caught out in your Irish citizenship journey.
First, legal residence means that you have the right to enter and remain in Ireland legally.
For example, this could be acquired as a British national with Common Travel Area rights, with a work permit, or using the Irish Immigrant Investor program.
Second, you’ll need to build up enough ‘reckonable residence’ in Ireland to be granted citizenship by naturalization.
Remember, citizenship approval is always at the discretion of Ireland’s Minister for Justice and Equality.
Reckonable residence refers to the number of days you’ve spent in Ireland in every year for which you want to claim legal residency (that would be a minimum of five years to be eligible for citizenship).
You also need to spend 365 days (or 366 if it’s a leap year!) physically in Ireland in the last year before you apply for citizenship.
Ireland immigration follows a ‘permission’ system involving a number of different permission stamps.
These give you the rights to undertake various different activities during your legal residency period in Ireland, such as work, study, being the dependent of an Irish resident, or being in a marriage or civil partnership with an Irish national.
Not all of these stamps will give you a pathway to citizenship. For example, Ireland gives foreigners the rights to live there with independent income, using the ‘person of independent means’ pathway.
For this, you need to prove an income of minimum €50,000 per year, plus enough savings to cover any significant expenses.
However, there’s a big caveat. Person of independent means status is classed as ‘stamp 0’ under the Irish permission stamp system. Stamp 0 status doesn’t count as reckonable residence, and hence you can’t use it as a pathway to citizenship.
That’s why it’s important to be aware of the reckonable residence concept if you’re planning to aim for Irish citizenship.
How to get an Irish passport if you’re British
When the Brexit vote was first announced, there was a big surge in British people applying for Irish passports to retain their EU rights.
Unfortunately, not everyone will have the right ancestry to be eligible for Irish citizenship.
But don’t worry, you can still get an Irish passport even without a lucky accident of birth.
British nationals can get an Irish passport in the following ways:
- By having a parent or grandparent who is Irish
- By marriage or long-term partnership to an Irish national
- By naturalization, i.e., relocating to Ireland and maintaining residency for five years, then applying for citizenship.
Unlike other EU countries, such as Portugal or Spain, British nationals post-Brexit can move freely to Ireland with no need for a visa. This is a special situation due to the Common Travel Area between the UK and Ireland.
So if you’re a Brit weighing up your EU citizenship options and don’t have the right financial requirements for Portugal or Spain, Ireland is the easiest way to get your EU citizenship back – even without having Irish heritage.
How to get an Irish passport as an American
Getting an Irish passport is more difficult for Americans than for Brits.
You can still use the same pathways: descent, marriage, or naturalization, but the option to relocate with the Common Travel Area is not open to US citizens.
So if you’re an American without any Irish heritage or spousal links, then you have two options for getting an Irish passport.
- Move to Ireland with sponsorship (e.g. through a job) and maintain residency for five years
- Get Irish residency by investment using the Irish Immigrant Investor Program
In both of the above cases, you’ll need to maintain residency status in Ireland for at least five years before you become eligible to apply for an Irish passport.
Ireland Investor Visa (“Ireland Golden Visa”)
UPDATE: The Ireland Investor Visa program was terminated in February 2023. No new applications will be taken.
Just like Portugal and some other EU countries, Ireland has its own Golden Visa program.
Known as the Irish Immigrant Investor Program (IIP), it allows foreign investors from outside the EU to establish residency in Ireland in return for making an investment in the country.
After investing in Ireland with the IIP, you’ll receive a ‘Stamp 4 visa’, which allows you to start the clock towards becoming eligible for Irish citizenship.
Let’s take a look at how to get Irish citizenship using the Immigrant Investor Program.
Ireland Investor Visa: Investment Routes
The Irish Immigrant Investor Program currently offers four different investment routes.
- Enterprise Investment route. Invest a minimum of €1 million in a new or existing Irish business. This is the most commonly used option for the IIP.
- Investment Fund route. Invest a minimum of €1 million in a fund approved and regulated by Ireland’s central bank.
- Real Estate Investment Trusts route. Invest a minimum of €2 million in a real estate investment trust. Good for those who want a low risk investment route, but with the downside of a higher minimum threshold.
- Endowment route. Invest a minimum of €500,000 into a project that benefits Ireland.
The Ireland Investor Visa has an advantage over similar investment residency / Golden Visa programs because it includes a pre-approval process.
That means less risk for you, as the Irish authorities will approve your residency application before you make the actual investment.
Other Golden Visa programs in Europe require you to make the investment first and then submit the application (with the exception of Portugal’s affordable Highly Qualified Activity Visa)
If you follow the application processes carefully and work with an experienced lawyer, rejection is unlikely, but there’s still an element of risk. The Ireland Investor Visa’s pre-approval process removes this risk.
Ireland Investor Visa: Physical presence requirements
When investing for one of Europe’s Golden Visas, it’s common to benefit from more relaxed physical presence requirements compared to other residency routes.
That’s also the case with the Irish Immigrant Investor Program (the Ireland Golden Visa) as you only need to physically be in Ireland for one day a year to maintain your residency status.
However, there’s a big caveat for those who are aiming for Irish citizenship – one day a year won’t be enough.
You’ll need to spend a number of months every year in Ireland, to prove a strong enough connection to the country to be granted citizenship after five years.
It’s at the discretion of the Irish immigration authorities to decide whether your physical presence has been sufficient for citizenship.
We recommend that you plan to spend 4 to 5 months per year physically in Ireland, so you can balance the need for physical presence with tax implications elsewhere.
Staying for more than six months in a year would make you a tax resident of Ireland. In that situation, we recommend that you seek advice from a cross-border tax advisor.
Basic requirements for Irish citizenship
Here are the basic requirements to be considered eligible for Irish citizenship:
- You’re aged 18 or over
- You’ve been physically present in Ireland for the entire year before submitting your citizenship application
- You’ve paid all your taxes in Ireland
- You’ve lived in Ireland for at least five years out of the preceding nine years, including the one year of continuous residence prior to submitting the application
- You plan to continue living in Ireland
- You have a clean criminal record
Applying for an Irish passport
Once you’ve submitted your citizenship application and provided the required supporting documents, 12 months is the typical timeline for receiving your Irish passport.
Let’s take a look at the documents you’ll need to apply for Irish citizenship and an Irish passport.
- Current passport and any previous passports that you’ve held while living in Ireland
- Certified copy of your birth certificate (and an English translation if necessary)
- A copy of your Irish immigrant registration card
- For each year of residence that you’re claiming in Ireland (minimum five years needed for citizenship), you’ll need three different proofs of residence. These can be any of the following: tenancy agreements, property deeds, utility bills, bank statements, mobile phone bills, or council tax statements)
- Two recent passport photographs
- Copies of your bank statements for at least three months out of the previous six
- A tax clearance certificate from the Irish tax authority
Applying for Irish citizenship has a non-refundable fee of €175 per application.
After being approved, you’ll need to pay a further fee of €950 to receive your certificate of naturalization.
Assuming your application for Irish citizenship is approved, you’ll receive a letter stating that you’ve been granted a certificate of naturalization.
At that point, you’ll need to attend a citizenship ceremony, where you’ll make a declaration of loyalty to Ireland.
This marks the completion of the process. It’s also the point when you can apply for an Irish passport at the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Irish citizenship vs Portuguese citizenship
Let’s conclude this article by examining how Irish citizenship measures up to another popular EU citizenship option: Portuguese citizenship.
We’ll focus on the most important aspects of the citizenship process, as well as the potential benefits along the way.
|Timeline to citizenship||5 years||5 years|
|Ease of process||Less easy because of the permission stamp system and ‘reckonable residence’||More flexible and less stringent criteria|
|Physical stay requirements for citizenship||At least 183 days per year, plus 365 days in final year before applying||7 days per year with Golden Visa;|
183 days per year with other routes
|Language requirements||English only||A2 level Portuguese|
|Other benefits||Both UK and EU rights||NHR tax benefits|
Has Portugal piqued your interest? Check out our comprehensive guide to getting residency in Portugal.
FAQs: How to get an Irish passport
Here are a selection of the most commonly asked questions about how to get an Irish passport.
How long does it take to get an Irish passport?
You will normally receive your Irish passport around 12 months after submitting your citizenship application. If you’re applying for citizenship by naturalization, you’ll normally need to be a resident of Ireland for five years before applying for citizenship.
How much does it cost to get an Irish passport?
€75 for the standard 10-year Irish passport, €105 for the large 66-page, 10-year passport.
Can a foreigner get an Irish passport?
Yes. There are no restrictions on any foreigner getting an Irish passport, assuming they meet the eligibility requirements.
Can a British citizen get an Irish passport?
Yes. You can either get an Irish passport through your ancestry, or you can move to Ireland, stay resident there for five years, then apply for Irish citizenship by naturalization.
Can I live in the UK with an Irish passport?
Yes, you can live freely in the UK with an Irish passport.
Can I get an Irish passport if my grandparents are Irish?
Yes. If you have a grandparent who was born in Ireland, but neither of your parents were, you can become an Irish citizen. You’ll first need to register with the Foreign Births Register.
Does Ireland allow dual citizenship?
Yes, dual citizenship is fine in Ireland. But you should check the regulations from the country of your other citizenship.
What are the benefits of having an Irish passport after Brexit?
If you have an Irish passport after Brexit, you will retain your EU rights to live, work, study, and retire freely across the whole of the EU and the EEA. You won’t be affected at all by the loss of freedom that Brexit has caused.
Can I live in Spain with an Irish passport?
Yes, you can live in Spain with an Irish passport, with no need for a visa.
Can I live in Portugal with an Irish passport?
Yes, you can live in Portugal with an Irish passport, with no need for a visa.
How do I get an investor visa in Ireland?
You need to make a minimum donation of €500,000 (for the endowment option). There are three other routes available, but €500,000 is the lowest threshold for the Ireland Golden Visa (although the endowment is a donation instead of an investment).
Before you go…
Irish citizenship is one of the EU’s fastest options. It’s a great fit if you’re a British national looking for a gateway back into the EU.
But for other nationalities, getting residency in Ireland could be a challenge. The country doesn’t have a workable passive income or digital nomad visa that leads all the way to citizenship.
Instead, you’d either need to get sponsored by a company in Ireland, or apply for residency via the Golden Visa.
Portugal offers a comparable citizenship route (five years, allows dual citizenship), but with the advantage of a wider range of residency options, including the D7 visa, the digital nomad visa or the Portugal Golden Visa.