What does it mean to be an Irish citizen?


Irish citizens are formal members of the Irish community, that is, the Irish community living in Ireland and the Irish community living abroad. Being an Irish citizen means that you are legally recognised as being a national of Ireland and a citizen of the European Union.

Brexit: Following the UK vote to leave the European Union, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has published a list of frequently asked questions on citizenship and passports for Irish and UK citizens. You can also get information about how Brexit will affect you in our Guide to Brexit.

Rights of Irish citizens

Irish citizens (in common with all citizens living in Ireland) enjoy certain rights and privileges that are guaranteed under the Irish Constitution. Some of these rights are fundamental rights that arise from living in Ireland. For example, if you are a citizen living in Ireland, you are entitled to equality before the law, freedom to travel, freedom of expression and religious liberty.

If you are an Irish citizen, you are entitled to carry an Irish passport and leave Ireland to travel abroad, to vote in an Irish election and to be elected to government in Ireland and in the European Union. As an Irish citizen, you are also entitled to live, travel and work within the European Union/European Economic Area.

As an Irish citizen living in Ireland, you also have certain duties and responsibilities. For example, you are expected to observe and uphold the basic rule of law in Ireland and to serve on a jury if called upon.

If you are an Irish citizen living outside of Ireland, you are also entitled to an Irish passport, as well as diplomatic supports from Irish embassies/consulates abroad, etc. With the exception of diplomatic staff and their spouses or civil partners posted abroad, as an Irish citizen living abroad you are not entitled to vote in an Irish election by post or in your nearest Irish embassy.

How can I become an Irish citizen?

Irish citizenship is obtained in different ways. Most Irish citizens get their citizenship through birth or descent. Foreign nationals can apply to become Irish citizens through naturalisation. If you are a foreign national who is either married to an Irish citizen or a civil partner of an Irish citizen, you can apply for Irish citizenship through naturalisation. The residence requirements are more favourable for the spouse or civil partner of an Irish citizen but there is no longer an absolute entitlement to Irish citizenship through marriage.

Dual citizenship

If you are an Irish citizen, you may also hold dual citizenship, that is, citizenship of another country. You should be aware that certain countries do not recognise dual citizenship. If you wish to apply for dual citizenship, you should check with the authorities of the other country to ensure that your rights are protected. For example, the law in some countries provides for the automatic termination of its citizenship or nationality if you acquire another citizenship or nationality. You should also be aware that acquiring Irish citizenship does not automatically void the obligations of another citizenship or nationality (for example, the requirement to complete military service).

Renouncing your Irish citizenship

If you are an Irish citizen living abroad, and you wish to apply for citizenship of another country you may be required to renounce your Irish citizenship. If you have done this by making a declaration of alienage (pdf) that you are no longer an Irish citizen this does not affect your entitlement to be an Irish citizen if you are born in Ireland. You can resume your Irish citizenship by making a declaration of citizenship (pdf).

Further information

The Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) website has more information about Irish citizenship. You can also email INIS at citizenshipinfo@justice.ie.

Page edited: 3 December 2018