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Procedures For Entering Ireland with a Spouse

There's a lot of concern about this one. Get your paperwork in order and you can relax.

Marriage Outside Ireland to an EU/EEA Citizen

When entering Ireland for the first time as the spouse of an Irish citizen, simply show your EU passport at the airport or ferry port and enter Ireland. Within 3 months, register at your local Garda/Police station. That's it, you're done.

Do You Need a Visa?

From the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service website: http://www.inis.gov.ie/en/INIS/Pages/WP07000016

The "Ireland Visa Requirements" document consists of two lists – Schedule 1 and Schedule 2.

Schedule 1 lists those countries whose nationals do not require a visa to enter Ireland.

Therefore nationals of all countries not mentioned on Schedule 1 will require a Visa prior to seeking entry to Ireland.

Schedule 2 refers to Transit Visas. Nationals of all countries listed in Schedule 2 require a visa to transit through Ireland.

A Transit Visa does not permit the holder to leave the port/airport. You can only transit to your onward connection and you must have a valid visa (if required) for your final destination.

Schedules 1 & 2 can be found in S.I. No. 657 of 2006.

Marriage in Ireland to Non-Visa Required Non-EU/EEA Nationals (Schedule 1 nationals - see above)

If your non-national spouse entered Ireland on a visitor's visa or authorization (in other words, Schedule 1 - non-visa required nationals - see the preceeding section for details), you may be worried about their status after your marriage in Ireland. Don't be - unless the new spouse is from a visa-required nation. In that case, see below.

There is no problem if you celebrate your nuptials before the visa expires. If the wedding ceremony will take place later than the non-national's visa allows, he or she will have to report to the Dublin Garda National Immigration Office or the local Garda station. This visit must take place prior to the date stamped on the passport or visa. For an extension, the non-national will have to present pre-nuptial papers.

In other words, the wedding will have to be scheduled and official documents to that effect have to be presented in order to get an extension.

Once married, both non-national and the Irish spouse need to go back to the Garda Station/Immigration Office. Both partners will need to present passports and the marriage licence. If you do this in Dublin, the non-national will walk out of the office with a residency permit. If you do it outside of Dublin, it will take a few days for the permit to arrive. Once the permit has arrived, the non-national is free to work without any need for a work permit.

Click here for information on Weddings in Ireland & Registry

Marriage Outside Ireland to Non-Visa Required Non-EU/EEA Spouses (Schedule 1 Nationals - see above)

I've called the Garda National Immigration Bureau three times about this. Here's their answer. If, upon passing through Passport Control, the non-Irish spouse is asked the reason for their visit, the complete truth is the best response. The non-EU spouse should tell the Immigration official about the marriage to an Irish citizen. If asked, he or she should explain that the two of you are planning to move to Ireland.

Make sure you have an official stamped, certified copy of your marriage certificate with you! If the marriage certificate is in a foreign language, it must be translated and notarised and attached to the Marriage Certificate.

If you're coming via plane from outside the EU, you'll probably pass through passport control together at the overseas airport and there shouldn't be any hassles. If the non-EU/EEA spouse is entering Ireland on their own for the first time, then the Irish spouse should be waiting for them at the airport in case there are problems.

Additional documentation is not specifically required, but in case of an obstreperous Immigration Officer, could prove handy. Health insurance and copies of a recent bank statement could prove useful. Travel insurance that includes health coverage will suffice at this stage. A bank statement from an Irish bank is better than one from an overseas bank.

But, the key here is simply to get through passport control. You're not going to have to make a complete case for residency at the airport. You'll do that in a few days AFTER entering Ireland by visiting your local Garda station or the National Garda Immigration Bureau. All you're doing at the port of entry is providing enough evidence that if questioned, the Officer will allow you to enter Ireland. No matter the length of time the official gives you, don't argue with them. Save the main paperwork and arguments for your visit to the Immigration Officer at the Bureau or Garda Station. The airport Officer is just the guardian of the gate, not the person who will actually handle your case.

Since a spouse has a legal right to reside here with an EU citizen, there should be no problem in just passing through passport control in the simplest way possible - assuming the non-national is not from a country requiring a visa to simply visit Ireland.

Visa Required Nationals: Marrying an Irish Citizen (Not on Schedule 1- see above)

If your spouse does require a visa, you'd best contact your local Irish embassy for a visa - explaining the situation and providing the documentation.

One harassed "Visa Required" national came to Ireland on a standard travel visa in order to marry her Irish spouse. That's when the trouble began: "On proceeding to the local Garda station to apply for said residency permit, I was told to apply to Dublin. Hence began the start of a merry-go-round of sorts where I have been given wrong information regarding the departments concerned with my case or have been pushed around from one department to the other!!!"

I ended up tracking down an official who sounded like he knew what he was doing. He told me that the situation can be a bit "messy" for "Visa Required" (C visa) nationals who get married here in Ireland to Irish citizens. It turns out it's much easier if you enter the state after getting married outside the EU. Then your entrance visa is stamped as "Spouse of an EU citizen" and all goes smoothly.

So, the best thing for Visa Required Nationals to do is marry their Irish spouse overseas and then enter Ireland with a Spousal Visa.

Whatever the paperwork hassle, in the end anyone married to an Irish citizen has the right to reside here. Eventually, the paperwork snarls will be cleared up - but better not to put yourself in such a situation in the first place. Traipsing back and forth between government offices is NOT fun.

For more on visas, click here.

Visa Required Nationals: Entering Ireland for the First Time

Time Line:
Allow 8 Weeks for your Spousal Visa. Here's the warning issued by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS).

Visa applications will be processed in the fastest possible time following their arrival in the Visa Section in Dublin. However, to avoid delays in the issue of your visa, it is strongly advised that all applications are made at least EIGHT WEEKS prior to expected departure date, and that ALL supporting documentation is included with your application.

Documents Required:
View the Documents Required as listed by the INIS.

Here is a portion of this crucially important page. Read the whole thing! But, this short list of warnings may help.

  • Your application form should be fully completed. No question should be left blank.
  • You must sign the form yourself – nobody can sign it on your behalf. (Except in the case of a child under 18, whereby the parent(s) may sign on behalf of child).
  • Where a child under the age of 18 is travelling alone, the consent of both parents/guardians is required. If the child is travelling with one parent, the consent of the other parent is required. Where only one parent has total custody and access rights, official evidence of this must be provided.
  • Where they are in any other language, the original document should be submitted, along with a notarised translation of same. Failure to provide translated documents will lead to your application being refused.
  • At the time of your visa application you must possess a passport which is valid for 6 months after the date you propose to leave Ireland. Applications submitted without such a passport cannot be considered.
  • For applications for long-term stays such as employment, study, or joining your spouse, it is advisable that your passport should be valid for at least 12 months. If you are permitted to remain in Ireland for more than 3 months you must register with the Garda National Immigration Bureau. The charge for registration is €100 each time. You will not be registered beyond the date of expiry of your passport. It is therefore in your own interest to have a passport which is valid for at least 12 months.
  • If your passport is relatively new, it may assist your application if you provide your previous passport showing any previous visas for any other country, and your previous travel history.
  • All visa applicants must be able to show evidence that they can support themselves for the duration of their stay in Ireland without recourse to public funds or resources.
  • A detailed bank statement, showing sufficient funds, and covering the immediate 6 month period prior to submitting a visa application should be submitted. Lump sum lodgements made in the run up to an application being made are not taken into consideration when assessing a person’s ability to support themselves
  • For all categories of visa applications it will be necessary to include details of any other family members presently in Ireland, or any other EU State
  • Details of any previous visa applications for Ireland made by you MUST be given
  • If you have been refused a visa for any other country, details of this, preferably the original letter issued to you by the authorities of that country, should be submitted. Concealment of any other visa refusals will result in your Irish visa application being refused

Visa Information and Application Forms:

The INIS site has a lot and lot of information about Visas. Here's the jump-off page for the Visa section. And here's the link for Application Forms.

INIS Contact Information

Visa Section
Irish Naturalisation & Immigration Service
Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform
13/14 Burgh Quay
Dublin 2

Telephone (within Ireland): Lo-call 1890 551 500
(Helpline available 10:00am to 12:30pm Monday, Wednesday and Friday excluding Public Holidays)
Telephone (from outside Ireland: + 353 1 6167700
(Helpline available 10:00am to 12:30pm Monday, Wednesday and Friday excluding Public Holidays)
Email: visamail@justice.ie

Visa Required Nationals: Financial Support

One Board thread concerned an Irish lad married to a Visa required national. He's just back in Ireland while his new wife waits and waits for a Visa. Since he's just back, he doesn't have a job or a big bank account.

Nowhere on the INIS site can I find information about this situation. So, I called and made a nuisance of myself. Here's the answer that I received:

The Immigration Service has a prime directive: make sure no new immigrant will be a burden on the taxpayers of Ireland. So, all the various hassles ultimately relate to money. Don't they always.

If your bank statement is less than impressive and you have no job, then you can get around this problem by getting a Letter of Invitation from parents or other close relatives. This Letter of Invitation can be on plain paper. This letter should state that the writers will support the incoming spouse until the couple are able to find work.

Copies of the letter writer's recent bank statement should be included. Copies of passports or drivers licences should also be included to prove that the writers are Irish citizens or residents.

Health Insurance issued to the non-EU spouse would be important if it can be afforded. Travel Insurance that covers the spouse for a few months is better than nothing and these days, such policies are pretty inexpensive.

Take the whole lot down to the local Garda Station along with the Letter Writer's passport or Irish licence and get the whole thing stamped/notarised.

Then include this with the Visa Application.

Visa Required Nationals: Arriving in Ireland

Check out what INIS says on their page entitled Family Member of Irish Citizen

Here's part of it:

If both you and your Irish spouse are legally resident in a country other than Ireland, and you both wish to move to Ireland, the following documents must be submitted:

  • Fully completed and signed application form
  • Passport, valid for at least 12 months
  • Clear copy of spouse’s passport, showing evidence of residency in country you are moving from
  • Marriage Certificate

Normally, the couple will arrive together along with any children. However, if the non-EU spouse is travelling alone, then the Irish spouse should be at the airport or ferry port to meet them. That way, if there's any hassle with an Immigration Official, the Irish spouse can be brought in to the discussions.

If parents or anyone else has written a Letter of Invitation, they should also be present. They should bring their Letter and supporting documents (bank statement, passports or driver's licences, health insurance).

If there's a problem, just tell the Immigration Officer that the Irish family members are waiting in the Arrivals area and they'll invite them in.

Again, you will not be making the case for a long term residency visa then and there. The airport officials are just acting as gatekeepers. They just want to make sure everything is legitimate. Once sure of that, they'll issue a stamp allowing you into Ireland. Don't argue, no matter how long the time span on the stamp, though if the allowed time is only a day or two it's reasonable to ask for a bit more time. But, the real paper examination will take place at the National Garda Immigration Bureau or your local Garda station.

The key is just to get inside the country with the minimum hassle. After that, whatever the paperwork hassles, they'll eventually unsnarl.

An Irish citizen has the legal right to marry anyone they want and to have that spouse reside with them in Ireland. That's the bottom line. There may be some paperwork delays (get that Visa application in early!), but it will all work out.

One Person's Experience - Paperwork Counts

"Entering the country was not a problem for my husband or daughter, as he had an Irish passport and they both had foreign birth records. My citizenship papers hadn't come by the time we moved, and the immigration official saw fit to give me a hard time. We had to wait until every single person on 2 planes AFTER ours had cleared customs in Shannon before she would talk to me. Then, when she finally had time for me, she told me I would have to show proof of health insurance and 1 year's worth of bank statements when I registered with the Garda. I explained that I had spoken with both the Irish Embassy in Boston and the State Department in Dublin, and had been assured that all I needed was my passport & marriage license if I entered the country along with my husband."

"And in fact, when I did register at the Garda station, all the detective needed to see was my passport, marriage license, and my husband's passport - but not my actual husband. So I guess immigration officers can make up whatever they want at the airports, just to give you a hard time at 5:30 a.m." (Sa.)

CJ relates her experience: "I came in two years ago. I brought the original marriage cert with me and they didn't even look at it. No problem at all. Went into the garda station to register (bring 2 passport type photos with you), no problems and then got my resident ID (like a green card type thing) in the post a few weeks later."

Spouses and Citizenship

Under Irish law, the spouse of an Irish citizen may obtain Irish citizenship by making a declaration of acceptance of Irish citizenship The declaration may be made not earlier than three years after the marriage to the Irish spouse. In cases where the Irish spouse obtained Irish citizenship after the marriage by birth or descent, a further three years of marriage from the date of the granting of citizenship must elapse before the application may be made.

As a result of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act, 2001, it is no longer possible, after 30 November 2005, to become an Irish citizen by lodging a post-nuptial declaration at an Irish Embassy or Consulate. Instead, it is necessary to apply to the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform in Ireland for a certificate of naturalisation based on marriage to an Irish citizen and subject to a number of conditions, including residency in Ireland.

Please note that residency part! For a spouse to become an Irish citizen it is now be necessary to reside in Ireland for three out of the last five years. One of those three years has to be the year just before the application is filed.

Here is the relevant paragraph of the The Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act as amended in 2005:

Naturalisation of spouses of Irish citizens.
15A.31(1) Notwithstanding the provisions of section 15, the Minister may, in his or her absolute discretion, grant an application for a certificate of naturalisation to the non-national spouse of an Irish citizen if satisfied that the applicant
(a) is of full age,
(b) is of good character,
(c) is married to that citizen for a period of not less than 3 years,
(d) is in a marriage recognised under the laws of the State as subsisting,
(e) and that citizen are living together as husband and wife and that citizen submits to the Minister an affidavit in the prescribed form to that effect,
(f) had immediately before the date of the application a period of one years continuous residence in the island of Ireland,
(g) had, during the 4 years immediately preceding that period, a total residence in the island of Ireland amounting to 2 years,
(h) intends in good faith to continue to reside in the island of Ireland after naturalisation, and
(i) has made, either before a judge of the District Court in open court or in such manner as the Minister, for special reasons, allows, a declaration in the prescribed manner, of fidelity to the nation and loyalty to the State.

The Irish Naturalization and Immigration Service website has a section on citizenship and also the full text of the The Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act in their legislation section.

Maria's Advice on Reckonable Residence:

If you are married to an Irish citizen & want to apply for naturalization on the basis of that marriage you must satisfy a 'reckonable residence' requirement:

You must have been living in Ireland for a full year immediately before you applied AND within the 4 years previous to that, have lived in Ireland a total of 2 years (anytime within those 4 years) So, 1 year of continous + the 2 years = 3 years reckonable residence.

Say you arrived in Ireland 2002 and stayed 1 year (2002-2003) then went home for 2 years (2003-2004) and came back to Ireland for another year (2004-2005). That adds up to a total of 2.

Similiar to the option of applying for citizenship through naturalization on your own, without an Irish spouse BUT the residence rule of 2 of previous 4 years rises to 5 of previous 8 years.

My situation:

I arrived in Ireland and stayed 1 year (2000). I went home & came back to Ireland and have been here ever since (2002-2006) = 4 years. So, from the previous 8 years (1998-2006), I would have lived in Ireland for 5 years.

It can be a bit confusing when you read it on Irish government websites, but if you sit down with paper & pen and work out your time year by year it's easier.

EU Citizens Marrying Non-EU Citizens In Ireland - A Big Warning

Ireland has instituted its own interpretation of the EU Directive (2004/38/EC) which says that non-EU family members of EU citizens should be automatically permitted to live and work in the EU.


The Irish government, probably trying to stamp out ‘marriages of convenience’, has issued notices that it intends to deport the non-EU spouses of non-Irish EU citizens. Ireland insists the non-EU spouses must live in another member state before residing here.


Deportation n otices have been issued only against couples who married in Ireland. Those marrying overseas will already have gone through much of the paperwork rigamarole and for now are not receiving the notices.


A spokesman for the Department of Justice stated that those non-EU spouses who were in Ireland legally at the time of their wedding should “contact their local immigration office with a view to regularising their status in the State by renewing their original permission to remain.”


Those who where here illegally when they married, however, “are unlawfully present here”. These spouses can appeal to the Minister to stay on humanitarian grounds.


The European Commission is investigating the Irish government’s interpretation of the EU directive.

If you fall afoul of this rule you can contact the Migrant Rights Centre - http://www.mrci.ie - for advice. But, being realistic, for now you should think about spending 6 months in the EU spouse’s homeland.





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