Citizenship by Descent: Implications for Future Generations
November 13, 2023
What are the Pitfalls to Avoid When Applying for Irish Citizenship by Descent?
December 4, 2023

This article will explore the residency requirements for Irish citizenship. It will discuss the relationship between residency and naturalization and make clear the steps and process of applying for citizenship via residency.
It is important to clarify that residency is a condition that you must meet if you want to apply for citizenship through naturalization. Naturalization is a process that allows long-term residents to acquire Irish citizenship.

Minister’s discretion
Applications to become a naturalized Irish citizen are decided by Immigration Service Delivery (ISD) on behalf of the Minister for Justice. The applicant often requests the Minister to exercise absolute discretion under Section 16 of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956.

Residency requirements
In order to qualify for naturalization, you must have been physically resident in Ireland for at least 5 out of the last 9 years, including 1 year of continuous residence immediately before the date of your application. You must also have lived in Ireland for a minimum of 1,460 days (4 years) in the last eight years.
To establish citizenship through naturalization, you need to demonstrate “reckonable residence” (legal residence). The years that contribute towards reckonable residence do not have to be continuous, however, as stated above, you must live in the country for 1 year immediately before the date of your application.
During your residency in Ireland, it is important to demonstrate that you were living legally in Ireland within the required time periods, and this isdone by with permission stamps which are issued by Irish immigration officials.
You also need to consider the specific stamp you are on to see if it counts, as some categories do not qualify you for citizenship via naturalization, these are: being on a student visa, being undocumented, and waiting for decisions regarding international protection.
There are other variations in residency requirements depending on the situation and status of the applicant, for example if you are married to (or in a civil partnership with) an Irish citizen, you can apply for citizenship through naturalization if you have been married to an Irish citizen for three years.
Proof of residence is calculated using a scorecard approach, which means that each period of residence is given points, you must obtain 150 points to meet the residency requirement. For more information about the scorecard system please see the Department of Justice website.

Recent change in law
A recent change in the law came into effect 31 July 2023 and was in relation to periods spent outside of Ireland preceding a citizenship application. The amendment increased the number of days applicants can be absent in the year before applying for citizenship which gives more flexibility. The other notable change related to the use of digital services which gives faster and more efficient ways the Department of Justice deliver decisions on immigration and citizenship applications. Specifically:

  • Applicants are required to have one year’s continuous residence in the State immediately prior to the date of application. This condition is specific to the year before the date of application. However, applicants can be absent from the State during this period for up to 70 days either as one period or an aggregate of periods.
  • An additional (up to) 30 days may be allowed if you left Ireland due to “exceptional circumstances”, for example, family circumstances, health reasons, employment or study.
  • The immigration authorities can issue documents electronically, allowing for immigration decisions to be given by email or through a customer portal.
  • Residency requirements for citizenship applications for children born in Ireland, without an automatic entitlement to Irish citizenship, have decreased from 5 years to 3 years.
  • You can be outside of Ireland for up to 6 weeks per year and still be considered a resident.

Calculating reckonable residence
Reckonable residence means residence in Ireland that counts towards qualifying to apply for naturalization. You must have 1,825 days (5 years) reckonable residence out of the last 9 years. You can use the online residency calculator found on the on the Immigration Service Delivery website to check if you meet the naturalization residency conditions.
You must include a printout from the calculator with your application (along with other evidence of residence).

EEA, UK and Swiss nationals
If you are a citizen of an EEA (the EEA includes the EU and Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein) country, Switzerland or the UK, you do not need to include a “reckonable residence” calculation with your application, instead you have to present proof of your residence history in Ireland.
Furthermore, if you are a citizen of the EEA, Switzerland or the UK, you do not have to register for an Irish Residence Permit, all periods of residence in Ireland are counted towards naturalization.

Additional requirements
In addition to the conditions already outlined, to apply for citizenship via naturalization you must also intend to continue your residence in Ireland, be of good character, demonstrated through police reports and other means, and be 18 years or older.

Documents needed
You will need to provide: 1) evidence of your identity such as a passport or a national identity card. 2) Evidence of residence in Ireland, such as utility bills or a rent agreement. And 3) Proof of good character, usually a police clearance certificate.

How to apply and cost
To apply, you must use the most recent versions of the application forms on the Immigration Service Delivery website, and apply online for Irish citizenship. If you have already sent a paper form, you can continue to submit forms by post. For those who cannot access the online service, paper versions are still available. The application fee is €175, and if your application is successful, you may have to pay an additional fee of up to €950, which is the cost of the naturalization certificate.

How long does it take?
Most applications for naturalization are currently being processed within 19 months.You may be asked to send further documentation or clarify some information regarding your application.

If your application is successful
If your application has been successful the ISD will notify you. You will then be asked to pay the certification fee, and send your Irish Residence Permit (if you are from a country outside the EEA, Switzerland or the UK).
If your application is approved, you will be asked to attend a citizenship ceremony and make a declaration of fidelity to the nation and loyalty to the State. You will then receive your naturalization certificate.
Once you have received your naturalization citizenship, you are an Irish citizen and you can apply for an Irish passport.

This article has explained some of the residency requirements regarding applications made via naturalization. If you would like any further information then you can you can visit our homepage at https://irishcitizenshipassistance.com/. Or you can contact us directly here and one of our friendly experts will be in touch to answer your queries.

Contact us!