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Who can get Irish citizenship?

Learn more about the right to citizenship in Ireland


Written by Children's Rights Alliance and posted in life


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This factsheet is an extract from the publication Know Your Rights: The Rights of Children and Young People published by the Children's Rights Alliance. It is reproduced here with their kind permission. Know Your Rights is a public information project designed to inform everyone, in plain language, of the rights and entitlements children have in Ireland and where to go when they are not respected.

If you have Irish citizenship, you can enjoy rights, entitlements and supports in the same way as all other Irish people. As an Irish citizen you can apply for an Irish passport, vote in all elections if you are over the age of 18 access all state services.

Am I automatically an Irish citizen if I am born in Ireland?

No. If you were born in Ireland after 1 January 2005, you are an Irish citizen only if:

  • one or both of your parents is Irish or British, or
  • one of your parents was legally living (resident) in Ireland or Northern Ireland, has a genuine link to Ireland, or has lived in Ireland for at least three out of the four years immediately before you were born

You will not qualify for Irish citizenship based on your birth in Ireland if your parents were:

  • living in Ireland on a student visa, or
  • waiting for a decision on a claim for asylum or ‘leave to remain’, or
  • entitled to diplomatic immunity (this could relate to either of your parents)

How can I become an Irish citizen if I am not an Irish citizen through birth?

If you are not entitled to Irish citizenship through birth, you may still be able to apply for Irish citizenship through a process called naturalisation. There is no automatic right to citizenship and decisions are made by the Minister for Justice and Equality.

You must be 18 years of age before you can apply for naturalisation in your own right. If you are under 18 you will need your parent or guardian to apply on your behalf. They can do so:

  • after they have become Irish citizens, or
  • if you have Irish associations (meaning related by blood, affinity or adoption to a person who is an Irish citizen) or
  • if you were born in Ireland, or
  • If you were born in Ireland and have been legally resident as part of a family unit for five years

In addition, if you were born in Ireland after 1 January 2005, or one of your parents has become an Irish citizen, your parent or guardian can apply for citizenship on your behalf before you turn 18. You will need to meet certain conditions to qualify for citizenship.

Other ways to qualify as an Irish citizen

There are a few other ways you could qualify to become an Irish citizen either as a child or an adult. You can qualify through:

  • descent: if you were born outside Ireland, but are the child or grandchild of an Irish citizen, you are entitled to Irish citizenship provided your birth is registered in the Foreign Births Register
  • adoption: if you are adopted by an Irish citizen or a couple where one spouse is an Irish citizen. For more information about becoming an Irish citizen, visit the Citizens Information website or the INIS website

Need more information?

We are here to answer your questions and talk through your options. Our online chat service is for 16 to 25 year olds and is available Monday to Friday, 4pm to 8pm. Chat to us now about your situation.

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Published June 2nd2020
Last updated Octo­ber 25th2020
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