IMPORTANT UPDATE: Ireland’s Golden Visa program has been terminated, effective from February 15, 2023.
With the Ireland Golden Visa, you can start your journey to Europe’s best passport.
For a minimum of €1 million invested in Ireland, you and your family can access enormous benefits – along with the opportunity to secure a valuable second citizenship [in just five years!] that gives you the freedom to live, work, study, do business, and retire anywhere in Europe – plus the UK!
Let’s dive right in and explore the details of the Ireland Golden Visa program – including how it measures up as a pathway to EU citizenship.
We’ll also find out exactly why the Irish passport is the best in the whole of Europe, perhaps even the world.
What is the Ireland Golden Visa Immigrant Investor Program?
The Ireland Golden Visa is a residency by investment program created in 2012.
It gives investors and their families a five-year residence permit in Ireland, with the possibility to apply for citizenship at the end of that period.
Officially known as the Immigrant Investor Program (IIP), the Golden Visa is designed for high net worth individuals with personal wealth of over €2 million.
The program is designed to attract non-EU investors and business professionals to Ireland, where they can set up business interests and drive further investment in Ireland – boosting the national economy.
During the first half of the 20th century, Ireland was a nation of emigrants. In fact, during the 1950s, over 400,000 people left Ireland in search of better opportunities abroad.
Today, Ireland is one of the world’s weathiest countries in terms of GDP per capita.
It has a highly developed knowledge-based economy, which attracts investors and immigrants from all over the world. Ireland’s main industries include technology, financial services, and life sciences.
Ireland is also one of the best countries in the world for attracting high-value foreign direct investment.
Let’s take a look at some specific benefits of Ireland as a destination to live, invest and do business.
- One of Europe’s fastest growing economies
- Stable, secure and competitive internationally and locally
- Excellent country for doing business
- Politically neutral country, and non-NATO member
- Top quality education and health care
- Low corporate tax rate of just 12.5%
- Irish citizenship gives its holders the right to live, work, study, do business, and retire – not just in the EU, EEA, and Switzerland, but also in the United Kingdom. No other passport in the world does this!
Ireland Golden Visa In Brief
|Minimum investment threshold||€400,000 (endowment/donation). Other options available.|
|Timeline to residency in Ireland||3 months|
|Timeline to be eligible for Irish citizenship||5 years|
|Minimum stay requirements to maintain residency||1 day per year|
|Minimum stay requirements for citizenship||183 days per year; 365 days in final year before applying|
|Language requirements for residency||None|
|Language requirements for citizenship||English only|
|Dual citizenship allowed?||Yes|
- Low minimum stay requirements – no need to relocate to Ireland to maintain your residency rights – just visit for 1 day per year!
- Travel Europe freely – go anywhere in the Schengen zone as a tourist, without additional visas or permits
- Top quality education and healthcare – access these with the same rights as Irish citizens
- Variety of investment options – choose from investment funds, endowments, or investing in an Irish enterprise
- Include your family members – your whole family can enjoy access to the unique benefits of Ireland and the wider EU (including your spouse or long-term partner, any children under 21, plus your parents and parents-in-law!)
- High investment threshold – €400,000 is the minimum for the Ireland Golden Visa (and that’s just for an endowment, which won’t give you any returns
- You’ll need to live in Ireland if you want eventual citizenship – the Ireland Golden Visa lets you maintain your residency rights in Ireland without living there. But, if your goal is citizenship, you’ll have to move to Ireland and live there full time.
The Ireland Golden Visa is an excellent choice for those who want access to both the UK and the EU, with the opportunity to apply for a valuable passport in a short timeframe.
Having two passports is better than one, because you always have a Plan B in the event of crisis. Fortunately, Ireland recognizes dual citizenship. That’s yet another reason why an Irish passport is Europe’s top option!
What’s more, having Irish citizenship brings you the benefits of ongoing stability at home and good standing abroad – thanks to Ireland’s neutral stance in global politics.
Who can apply for the Ireland Golden Visa?
To be eligible for the Ireland Golden Visa, you must meet the following basic requirements:
- Be aged 18 or over
- Be a third country national (i.e., not a citizen of an EU/EEA country, or Switzerland)
- Have a clean criminal record
- Invest a minimum of €1 million in Ireland
- Have provable personal wealth of at least €2 million
- Have full medical insurance covering yourself and any dependents
- Pass a due diligence check on the source of funds, in line with international KYC and anti-money laundering regulations (for more information: see the Irish Central Bank website)
Ireland Golden Visa: All 2022 Investment Routes
You can choose from four routes to get the Ireland Golden Visa, including investing in Irish funds and real estate trusts.
To qualify for residence in Ireland, you must invest in an investment option that has been officially approved by the Irish Immigrant Investor Program.
Here’s a full summary of all available investment routes for the Ireland Golden Visa
|Investment Route||Minimum Threshold|
|Endowment (Donation)||€400,000 (for group investment)|
€500,000 (for an individual)
|Real Estate Investment Trusts||€2,000,000|
#1. Endowment Route: €500,000 (€400,000)
The endowment route is the lowest cost route to the Ireland Golden Visa. For this option, applicants must donate at least €500,000 to a qualifying Irish project in art, culture, health, education or sport.
The total can be reduced to €400,000 if the applicant makes the endowment together with four other applicants. In this case, each applicant must donate at least €400,000 and all funds must go into the same project.
IMPORTANT: The endowment route doesn’t allow successful applicants to receive any return on their funds. This is a condition of the route.
#2. Investment Funds Route: €1 million
For this option, applicants must invest a minimum of €1 million in one of Immigration Ireland’s approved investment funds. They must hold the investment for at least three years.
To qualify for the program, funds must have a target size of at least €20 million.
They must be private equity or venture capital, located in Ireland and focused on small medium-sized businesses and other Ireland-based companies not currently quoted on any stock exchange.
The fund’s potential to create jobs in Ireland is the key factor for pre-approval for the Golden Visa, rather than the fund’s potential to generate profit for its investors.
Both funds themselves and their fund managers are regulated by the Irish Central Bank.
#3. Enterprise Investment Route: €1 million
This is one of the most popular routes for the Ireland Golden Visa. It requires you to invest a minimum of €1 million in an Irish enterprise and hold the investment for at least three years.
The Irish enterprise can be an existing business, or you can start a new business yourself.
Key criteria for the enterprise investment route:
- The business must be incorporated in Ireland
- Its headquarters must be physically located in Ireland
- The business must generate jobs for Irish residents and help the Irish economy
- Investment must be made in the investors name, not through another company or trust
- Investing in publicly traded shares or real estate for rental purposes does not qualify for the Golden Visa
#4. Real Estate Investment Trusts (REIT) Route: €2 million
For this route – the highest threshold – you must make a minimum investment of €2 million in any Irish REIT listed on the Irish Stock Exchange, and hold the investment for at least three years.
After three years, you’re allowed to divest up to 50% of the investment.
You can divest an additional 25% after a further year, and the remainder after five years in total (at this point, you could also be eligible to apply for Irish citizenship, subject to meeting specific requirements).
A REIT is a listed company designed to hold rental property in a manner that avoids double taxation while minimizing risk to investors. REITs will typically invest in an assortment of diverse properties to further minimize risk.
Source: Irish Department of Justice, Immigration Service
Documents needed to apply
The full detailed list is available on the official website (there are specific requirements for each investment route). In summary, you’ll need to provide the following:
- A copy of your valid passport
- Evidence of funds available for investment
- Evidence of the source of funds (such as business or investment activities, deeds of sale, inheritance, gifts, or divorce settlements)
- Overview of your financial activities for the previous 12 month period before applying (including income, spending, investments, and loans)
- Evidence of good character (in the form of a statement from the police department in any country where you’ve been resident for over six months in the 10 years before applying for the Ireland Golden Visa)
- Copy of a due diligence report from a reputable organization specializing in risk management and security screening
Renewing your residency permit
You can renew your Irish residency permit after two years, by supplying proof that you’ve maintained your investment for whichever holding period is required (this depends on the type of investment you chose).
If your renewal application is accepted (subject to proof of maintaining investment, ongoing financial stability and good character), your residence permit will then be renewed for an additional three years.
Ireland Golden Visa Costs
- Application fee: €1,500 (non-refundable). This covers main applicant and all eligible family members
- Legal fees for handling the application (variable)
Ireland Golden Visa for Brits after Brexit
If you’re a British national, you don’t need a Golden Visa to get residency in Ireland. British nationals have technically become eligible for the Ireland Golden Visa, because the UK is now a third country.
But thanks to the Common Travel Area between the UK and Ireland, Brits can still move freely to Ireland without any pre-requisites. Yes, even after Brexit.
So you could move to Ireland and take up residency, then apply for Irish citizenship after five years. That would enable you to regain your EU rights.
We don’t see any particular advantage for a British national who wants EU citizenship using the Ireland Golden Visa route.
You’d be better off investing €500,000 in the Portugal Golden Visa (either real estate or investment funds), then working towards Portuguese citizenship in the same five-year timeline as Ireland, without needing to actually live in Portugal.
Ireland Golden Visa for US citizens
For HNWIs who are US citizens, the Ireland Golden Visa is an excellent way to access the EU’s best passport.
In fact, unless you can get hired for a job in Ireland, the Golden Visa is the only viable route for Americans to Irish residency and later citizenship by naturalization.
It’s also worth checking your family tree to see if you have any Irish heritage. Many Irish people emigrated to the US in the 20th century, so you may have some ancestry that could help net you a passport.
Read more about the full requirements for all Irish naturalization routes in our guide to getting an Irish passport
Ireland Golden Visa vs Portugal Golden Visa – Full Comparison
The Portugal Golden Visa is another popular route for those seeking a foothold in Europe. But how does it measure up to the Ireland option?
Overall, the Portugal Golden Visa offers more affordable investment thresholds compared to the Ireland Golden Visa.
Both Portugal and Ireland are good choices for those who want to be eligible for EU citizenship after five years. Both countries recognize dual citizenship, so you can keep your original passport (but check the rules from your country of origin).
But Ireland has a big advantage over Portugal because its passport allows full access to the UK, as well as the whole EU, EEA, and Switzerland.
After Brexit, Ireland is the only country in the entire EU that can offer this huge benefit for you and your family.
And lastly, if you don’t like (or don’t have time for) learning other languages, then Ireland is a better choice than Portugal. You only need English to be eligible for Irish citizenship.
Citizenship Comparison: Portugal Golden Visa vs Ireland Golden Visa
|Portugal Golden Visa||Ireland Golden Visa|
|Timeline to be eligible for citizenship||5 years||5 years|
|Minimum annual stay for citizenship||7 days||183 days; plus 365 in the last year before applying|
|Tax residency required for citizenship?||No||Yes|
|Special tax program available?||Yes, NHR, non-habitual residency (10 years)||No|
|Minimum investment threshold||€280,000 (rehabilitation real estate in a low-density area)||€1 million in Irish investment funds or enterprise investment|
|Typical timeline for issuing residence permit||Around 9 months||Around 3 months|
|Language requirements for citizenship||A2 Portuguese||English only|
FAQs: Ireland Golden Visa
Can British citizens get the Ireland Golden Visa?
No, British citizens are not eligible for the Ireland Golden Visa, because they can already move freely to Ireland under the Common Travel Area agreement
Are any countries excluded from eligibility for the IIP?
Russian applicants are currently excluded from the IIP, as of March 8, 2022, due to international sanction agreements which include Ireland. Otherwise, there are no countries excluded from the IIP.
Is buying Irish citizenship possible?
No, it’s not possible to buy Irish citizenship outright. However, investors in the Ireland Golden Visa can become eligible to apply for Irish citizenship after five years of residency.
How long does it take to approve the Ireland Golden Visa?
Typically, it takes three to four months from the point of formal submission for the Ireland Golden Visa to be approved. However, decisions may take longer if the authorities need to request documentation missing from the original application.
Before you go…
The Ireland Golden Visa allows investors to get a European residency permit with a fast (five-year) timeline to potential citizenship.
The minimum investment threshold is €1,000,000 for an investment in Irish funds or enterprises. You could also choose to donate €500,000 to an Irish philanthropic project, but that won’t get you any returns.
That makes Ireland’s Golden Visa best suited to high net worth individuals, ready to invest in the ultimate life insurance of Irish residency and the path to an Irish passport. But if citizenship is your goal, be prepared to live full time in Ireland.
If that’s not an option for you, then Portugal might be a better fit.
Portugal has a Golden Visa program that makes you eligible to apply for Portuguese EU citizenship in the same five year window as Ireland.
But unlike Ireland, Portugal’s Golden Visa also allows you to maintain your residency status all the way to citizenship without living full time in Portugal. What’s more, Portugal offers an investment funds route for a minimum threshold of just €500,000 – half the cost of Ireland’s equivalent funds route.
Read our full guide to the Portugal Golden Visa investment funds route