The most important benefit of dual Irish and U.S. citizenship – beyond the benefit of the added Irish citizenship itself – is that a U.S. citizen not only retains U.S. citizenship but also becomes a member of the European Union. This benefit, however, may soon disappear.
The Relevant U.S. Laws on Dual Citizenship
Some dual citizenships, although they have advantages, also have significant disadvantages. A U.S. citizen who obtains a second citizenship in Austria, for instance, becomes subject to Austria's compulsory military service. In some countries, becoming a citizen of a second country requires that you give up your existing citizenship rights.
The U.S. has no such requirement. The worst that can be said about attaining a second citizenship in Ireland is that you now have to pay taxes in both countries. But, thanks to existing tax treaties, you'll usually get an IRS tax credit for income taxes paid abroad.
Ireland and the European Union
For a U.S. citizen, obtaining a second citizenship in Ireland has no real drawbacks and several benefits, one of them significant. Because Ireland is a member of the European Union (EU), a U.S. citizen with Irish citizenship automatically becomes a member of the European Union. Even leaving aside the possible social and cultural benefits, this provides many benefits:
- You can travel freely from one EU country to another without obtaining a visa or being subject to passport controls.
- You can take up residence not only in Ireland but in any other EU country without having to qualify for residence.
- You pay no special EU tariffs.
- You can obtain employment in any other EU country without special permission.
But Is It too Good to Be True?
Many advantages of dual Irish and U.S. citizenship may soon disappear. Great Britain has announced it's leaving the European Union, a move popularly known as Brexit. In March 2017, British Prime Minister Theresa May filed the papers putting this separation in motion. Sometime in 2019, probably early in the year, Britain will no longer enjoy the advantages of EU membership.
This puts both the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland in a bind. With Great Britain's Brexit decision, Northern Ireland, currently an integral part of the U.K., may be leaving the EU as well. If Northern Ireland remains in the United Kingdom (U.K.) and the Irish Republic remains in the EU, the two Irelands will have an international border between them. With this may come passport controls, duties, export and import taxes and residency requirements.
Nothing has yet been decided, but the Irish Republic could decide to leave as well. If so, many benefits of dual Irish and U.S. citizenship disappear.
Obtaining Irish Citizenship
If you're not of Irish descent, you first need to qualify for residence in Ireland. Once your residence is established, you can apply for Irish citizenship. The details of this naturalization process are beyond the scope of this article but are summarized in the Citizens' Information Board article (see References).
If you're of Irish descent and you can establish that one of your grandparents was an Irish citizen, becoming an Irish citizen is comparatively easy. Here are the basic rules:
- You can begin the process online. A YouTube video prepared by the Irish Naturalization and Immigration service and listed in this article's References describes the process.
At some point in your application, you'll need to provide proof
usually an Irish birth certificate
that one of your grandparents was an Irish citizen. * With this proof, you can register at any Irish Embassy or Consulate. With that registration, you become an Irish citizen and can apply for an Irish passport.
The above describes the bare bones of obtaining Irish citizenship. The Irish government articles listed in the References go into the process in detail.