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Interest in dual citizenship has soared in a post-Brexit world. However, the trend of applying for citizenship via familial connections, such as having a parent or grandparent from another country, is far from new, or exclusive to Britain and Ireland.

ONS statistics indicate that the volume of British nationals applying for second Irish passports has risen tenfold in the last decade, to 160,000 dual citizens. The latest data also shows that 63.1% of Irish citizens hold a UK passport.

While the primary attraction may be the ability to travel and work freely throughout the EU and Schengen Zone as a European Union citizen, an Irish passport can also provide additional benefits. They include faster transitions through airports, the option of attending a university in Ireland or the EU, and the ability to forgo forthcoming visa waiver entry rules that will apply to those travelling under UK passports.

How Can UK Citizens Qualify for a Second Irish Passport?

The first area to clarify is that both the UK and Ireland recognise dual citizenship; if you are eligible to apply for an Irish passport, you are not expected to surrender your British passport or your existing citizenship.

Another is that there are various routes to citizenship, with many UK nationals applying on one of the following bases. Note that each application option has a different process and criteria; if you fall into two categories, you must pick one or the other.

Irish Citizenship by Birth

Also known as jus soli, anybody born within Ireland but with an alternative citizenship may have the right to apply. Individuals born in Ireland before 1st January 2005 are automatically granted citizenship, whereas those born later are subject to new rules that were changed in a reform to the Irish Constitution called the 27th Amendment.

If the latter applies, you can still claim citizenship if one of your parents was an Irish or British citizen at the time of your birth. The criteria could become more complex if neither parent held UK or Irish citizenship, but you might be eligible if either held Irish residency on the same date.

Irish Citizenship by Descent

The second option is to apply via the jus sanguinis route, which enables people with an Irish parent or grandparent to apply for citizenship – even if they haven’t ever been to Ireland. You’d need to produce birth certificates for the family member and any other documentation that relates to the nationality of the parent or grandparent.

Irish Citizenship by Naturalisation

Naturalisation means that residents who have physically lived in Ireland for five of the previous nine years and have a year of continual residency right before can apply for citizenship, subject to providing a clear police record and intending to continue living in Ireland.

Irish Citizenship by Marriage

Finally, UK citizens who have a civil partner or spouse who is an Irish citizen can apply for citizenship after three years. They must be able to prove a year of continuous residence in the year leading up to the application and have lived in Ireland for at least two of the previous four years.

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What Is the Advantage of Having Irish Citizenship?

The appeal of a second passport may depend on your travel plans and whether you’re likely to find access to EU markets, destinations, and voting processes worthwhile. As a brief overview, if you hold an Irish passport, you have several rights:

  • Living or working in Ireland or an EU country
  • Voting in Irish and European elections
  • Travel freedoms as an EU citizen
  • Studying anywhere in the EU

For many, the focus is on regaining EU-wide travel rights. Irish passport holders can visit, live, or work in an EU member country of their choice, with a broader range of destinations offering visa-free travel or reduced visa-on-arrival requirements.

Others might be keen to secure Irish citizenship to enable family members to relocate through reunification visas or to access the healthcare and educational systems in Ireland or another European location.

Business owners, entrepreneurs, and investors interested in Irish opportunities and access to the wider European trading markets may also find that their affairs are far easier to manage and that barriers to participation are removed when acting as EU citizens rather than third-country nationals.

What Are the Costs Linked to an Irish Citizenship Application?

If you have a clear entitlement route to claim Irish citizenship and are reliant on EU travel or having the right to live or work long-term in a European country, the benefits may far outweigh the costs of the application process. However, as with all important decisions, it is worth having all the facts to hand to ensure you make informed decisions.

The exact costs may depend on the pathway to citizenship you are pursuing, but can include:

  • Non-refundable initial application fees of up to €270 per applicant.
  • Certification fees for naturalised citizens of €950 per adult, plus €200 for each minor and €200 for applicants who are surviving partners of an Irish citizen.
  • Costs of applying for copies of relevant birth, marriage, death and residency certificates.
  • Outgoings linked to travel to the consulate or embassy offices and potentially travel to and from Ireland.

Many UK nationals also hire an agency to assist with the process—costs can vary considerably, and it is essential that you verify that any company you choose to contract is authentic and has verified credentials.

Can I Apply for Irish Citizenship by Investment?

Should none of these criteria apply, there is the potential to consider an alternative way of obtaining Irish or EU residency or citizenship. The Ireland Residence by Investment Program ended in December 2023, although other comparable schemes in European countries such as Spain may be of interest.

Most EU countries have disbanded or tightened the criteria around schemes granting residency or citizenship status in return for investments due to long-standing controversy within the region about the potential for these programmes to be used for illegitimate purposes such as money laundering.

However, current options include the Cyprus Residency by Investment Program, the Malta Permanent Residency Program, and the Spanish Residence by Investment Program.

As always, we recommend seeking independent advice before making any decisions, ensuring your plans for dual citizenship, relocation, or cross-border investment are based on up-to-date, relevant advice about the potential impacts on your tax residency position and future tax exposure.

Please get in touch with Chase Buchanan Wealth Management anytime for further information or to arrange a good time to speak with our accomplished Private Wealth Managers at any of our locations across Europe.

*Information correct as at July 2024