If you are an Irish citizen living outside Ireland and you are planning to live in Ireland, this document is an overview of what is involved in moving here. You may be an Irish citizen born outside Ireland who is coming to live in Ireland for the first time, or you may be returning to Ireland after living and working abroad for a number of years. In both situations the information about your rights and entitlements is the same. For older Irish citizens there is more information in our document, Retiring to Ireland.
As an Irish citizen you have a range of rights including the right to enter and reside in Ireland. Being an Irish citizen means you are recognised as an Irish national and a citizen of the European Union. If you were born abroad and your parents or grandparents were Irish, you may be entitled to be an Irish citizen by birth or descent.
Returning with a family member
If you are returning to Ireland with an EEA spouse, civil partner, de facto partner or other family member, they may enter Ireland freely.
If you are an Irish citizen returning to Ireland with a non-EEA spouse, civil partner, de facto partner or other family member, you should be aware that there is no automatic entitlement under Irish law for you to have them join you in Ireland. They will need to apply for residency permission from the Irish immigration services. They may also need to apply for a visa before coming to Ireland. You can find information about applying for residency permission on the Crosscare Migrant Project website.
You may find that housing is very expensive in Ireland, irrespective of whether you are thinking of renting or buying a home. If you want to buy a home you need to be aware of the price trends in Ireland, the process by which houses are bought and sold and the initial costs that are involved. There are no restrictions on the purchase or rent of residential property or land. Rental accommodation comes in many forms including houses, flats and apartments. You will need to know about renting a home. The rights of tenants in Ireland do not include as much security of tenure as in other countries.
If you are thinking of returning, Safe Home Ireland provides information, advice and support to Irish emigrants wishing to return or move to Ireland.
Visit our Return to work in Ireland blog post with information about working in Ireland.
Taxation and banking
If you are moving to Ireland you need to know about residency for tax purposes. You will also be entitled to certain income tax credits and reliefs. For example, tax relief is available for certain medical expenses. When you are opening a bank account in Ireland, you have to provide proof of your identity and of your address in Ireland.
If you are normally resident in Ireland, you are entitled to a range of health services that are either free of charge or subsidised by the Irish Government. You are considered to be normally resident if you are planning to live in Ireland for a year or more. Depending on your income, you may be eligible for a medical card which entitles you to certain health services at no cost. A GP visit card entitles you to free GP (family doctor) visits. You will need to know how public health services are organised in Ireland.
In addition to the public health system, people in Ireland can avail of a range of private health care services. You must pay the full costs of treatment if you opt for private health care. There are a number of private health insurance companies in Ireland.
If you are moving to Ireland with your family you can find information about education in Ireland. Children are entitled to free education in publicly funded primary and second-level schools. For pre-school children there is a range of childcare options. There is more information in our documents,Moving your child to primary school and Moving your child to secondary school.
You may be coming to study at a third-level institution in Ireland. To qualify for free third-level fees you must have been resident in Ireland or another EU country for 3 years. If your income is below a certain level you may be eligible for a student maintenance grant.
Social security entitlements
There may be some significant differences between the social security system here and the country where you live so it will be worthwhile familiarising yourself with any differences in advance. You can find out more about moving to Ireland and your social security entitlements.
If you work in Ireland and pay at least one Class A PRSI contribution, your social insurance contributionspaid in another EU/EEA country can help you qualify for a social insurance payment such as Illness Benefit or Jobseeker.s Benefit. You should bring a record of your social insurance contributions using forms E104 and U1 (formerly E301) which you can get from your local social security office. If you have been getting unemployment benefit for 4 weeks, you may transfer it to Ireland for up to 3 months if you bring a completed form U2 (formerly E303). Certain other social security benefits from another European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland may also be transferred to Ireland, but not means-tested payments. The European Economic Area consists of the member states of the European Union, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. You should check with the social security agency in the country where you live.
If you live outside the EEA you should find out if there is a Bilateral Social Security Agreement between Ireland and the country you are leaving as this allows your social insurance contributions to be taken into account for the State contributory pension. You can find out more in our document, Combining social insurance contributions from abroad.
If you do not have enough social insurance (PRSI) contributions you may qualify for a means-tested payment such as Jobseeker's Allowance. You should know that there is a residency requirement to qualify for social assistance payments in Ireland.
Returning emigrants should be aware that the rules for transferring or accessing pension savings established outside of Ireland are usually determined by that jurisdiction. These rules and regulations differ significantly from country to country and may be influenced by a wide range of factors. The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection provides general information for returning Irish emigrants regarding the transfer of private pensions to Ireland.
Driving, cars and transport
Full driving licences from all other EU member states (and some other countries) are recognised for use in Ireland. It may be possible to convert your driving licence to an Irish one. If you want to bring your car to Ireland you need to know about importing a car and implications for Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT). Information is available about public transport services in Ireland. If you are over 66 and living permanently in Ireland, you are entitled to free travel on public bus and rail transport.
Other issues for people moving to Ireland
There are strict regulations about importing pets from abroad, so you need find out about the procedures for bringing your pet to Ireland.
There are customs regulations about the importation of prohibited or restricted goods and Customs and Excise officers have the power to carry out searches of the baggage of people travelling to Ireland.
Irish citizens living in Ireland have the right to vote in all elections and referenda. In order to vote you must be on the Electoral Register. You may be interested to learn about the political system at national level and the political system at local level.