What documents are necessary to prove your lineage?
October 20, 2023
Citizenship by Descent: Implications for Future Generations
November 13, 2023

If you are married to an Irish citizen, you might be surprised to hear you could potentially qualify for Irish citizenship. Like many countries in the EU (with Italy being a unique exception), Irish citizenship by marriage falls under a subset of naturalization, meaning the couple must legally reside in the country for a certain number of years. Citizenship is therefore not automatically acquired upon marriage to an Irish national. What are the precise qualifications then, and how can one apply? These are the topics covered in this article.

What are the qualifications for citizenship by marriage?
The most essential qualification for Irish citizenship by marriage is to have had at least three years’ residency in Ireland with your spouse since the date of your marriage. It is important to accurately calculate the number of years and to understand what “reckonable residence” is (more on that below), because the guidelines can be rather strict. Included in the three years is one continual year of residency before you submit your application. During this year, you can leave the country for up to 70 days. Another 30 days might be allowed as well if there are “exceptional circumstances” related to health, family, or otherwise.

The non-Irish spouse must also have a “good character.” This is an area that unfortunately can invite some ambiguity, but in general the Minister for Justice will want to see criminal records, any driving offences, criminal cases or investigations, civil cases, etc.

Finally, the non-Irish spouse must also plan to stay in Ireland following naturalization. If you do plan to temporarily leave Ireland you should fill out Form 5 each year you are abroad. Failure to do so could lead to your naturalization being revoked if you are gone for a period of seven continuous years.

Naturalization and “reckonable residence”
There is a specific way in which you must count the years of residency in Ireland that can qualify toward naturalization applications. These years are referred to as “reckonable residence.” It is important to check the particular stamp you are on to see if it counts, but in essence, situations that do not qualify are: being on a student visa (typically Stamp 2), being undocumented, and being under international protection.

The number of years that count toward reckonable residence do not need to be continuous, but they do need to be within a set time period. For naturalization not pertaining to marriage or civil union, this is 5 years within a 9-year period. For the spouse of an Irish citizen, this is 3 years in a 5-year period.

Documents needed
Any documents that are not issued in English will need to be professionally translated and certified before submitting them in the application. It also used to be the case that you needed to submit a
copy of your entire passport, but as of April 20th, 2023, you need only a certified color copy of the ID page. Around 10% of applicants might later be asked for their full passport.

You will also need certified copies of the following: your and your spouse’s birth certificates and your marriage certificate. If you cannot obtain one of these certificates, it is possible to instead fill out an affidavit in the missing certificate’s place, but you must also demonstrate the impossibility of procuring the document.

In order to prove residency according to the requirements outlined in the section above, you will need to provide copies of different proofs of address for each year of residency that counts toward Irish citizenship. These documents must include the date, your name, and your address. Examples include housing agreements, bills, employment, etc. The precise number of documents can differ because Ireland uses a “scorecard” system. This system awards a certain number of points to certain documents, and you must reach at least 150 points per year for residency in order to apply for citizenship. For a clearer understanding of acceptable documents and the amount of points awarded to them, see the Citizenship Guidance Document.

In addition, both you and your spouse will need to provide three different proofs of residence covering the three months leading up to the application. The points on these documents do not matter, but the same qualifications for the documents are the same as above (e.g. name, date, address, rental agreement, bank statement, etc.)

Finally, you and your spouse will also need to fill out witnessed statutory declarations.

How to apply
The application for Irish citizenship can all be done online on the Immigration Service Delivery (ISD) portal. If you are unable to access the online service, you can request to apply via mail by contacting citizenshipinfo@justice.ie.

Typically, applications for Irish citizenship by naturalization are processed within 19 months. There is also a fee of €175. If the application is approved, you will then owe a certification fee, the amount of which depends on the circumstances behind your naturalization. For marriage or civil partnership, this equals €950.

If you happen to change your address while the application is processing, you must fill out a form to alert ISD. The form can be found here.

Finally, if your application is approved you will be invited to a citizenship ceremony. Once you have your naturalization certificate, you can apply for your Irish passport.

This article has sought to explain the qualifications and process behind applying for Irish citizenship by marriage. If you would like further assistance with your application, don’t hesitate to contact us at info@irishcitizenshipassistance.com.

Contact us!