Steve Geoghegan

5 things to know about moving to Ireland

3 min read


Ireland’s home to over 300,000 Brits, giving it the third-largest population of UK expats in Europe. On top of that, more than 40,000 people from around the world emigrated to Ireland in 2014 – and they keep on coming.

It’s not hard to see why. On top of being a beautiful country, Ireland’s immigration process is one of the simplest around. If you’re thinking about a move with your family, career, or to do some studying, we’re here to help. Sláinte!

1. The visa process is fairly simple

If you’re moving from any of the EEA (European Economic Area) countries or Switzerland, then you’re in luck. You don’t need a visa to move to Ireland! Just pack your bags, hop on a plane and enjoy your new life.

It’s not too hard outside the EU, either. But if you’re looking to stay in the Emerald Isle for more than three months, you might need a visa (depending on your home country) and you’ll definitely need a work permit. The visa means you can enter the country. The work permit’s issued by a separate department and means you can work in Ireland.

If you have a spouse or civil partner who’s a citizen of a country within the EU, you might be able to avoid the visa and work permit process. Get in touch with the Department of Justice and Equality to find out more.

2. Non-EEA nationals need an employment permit

If you’re a non-EEA national, you’ll need an employment permit to work in Ireland. You can get more details from the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation. You might not need a permit if you have permission to remain for various reasons, like having an Irish/EEA national spouse or parent, being a student or for humanitarian reasons.

Unlike other countries, the Irish immigration system isn’t points based. Instead, they allow migrants with skills and experience that will benefit the Irish economy to easily get a work permit. You, or your employer, will need to apply at the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation. Once you’ve got your permit, you’ll have exactly the same employment rights as Irish citizens.

There are a few different types of employment permits so it’s good to do your research beforehand. If you happen to have qualifications from another country, you should check if these are recognised. You can contact Quality and Qualifications Ireland to find out.

3. You’ll need to apply for a work permit

Before you can apply for a work permit, you’ll need an official job offer from your employer. After that, you can apply for the permit yourself, or your employer can do it for you. It’s worth noting that work permit applications from recruitment agencies aren’t accepted.

Some employers might cover the cost of your permit. If your application’s rejected, you’ll get a 90% refund on your application fee. Work permit applications are made online, and processing usually takes about eight weeks.

4. How to become a permanent resident

If you’ve fallen head over heels in love with Ireland and want to stay for good, you can apply for residency after five years of legally living in the country. If you’re lucky enough to have a specific work permit, like a Critical Skills Employment Permit, then you can apply for residency after only two years of living in Ireland. Once you’ve got full residency, you won’t need to apply for work permits again.

One thing to know is that your time spent living legally in Ireland is based on when you register with immigration, not on the dates of your visa or work permits. So you should register as soon as you can, as delays could cause complications when applying for work permits and residency.

In Dublin, you can register at the Garda National Immigration Bureau. If you’re outside Dublin, you should register at a local Garda District Headquarters. There’s a €300 fee for each certificate of registration issued.

5. How to become an Irish citizen

After you’ve lived and worked in Ireland for five years, you might be able to apply for citizenship (and, if your home country allows it, you can hold dual citizenship). This means you can apply for an Irish passport as well as vote in all Irish elections. If you moved from outside the EU, it’ll make you an EU citizen. You can find more information at the Citizens’ Information site.

The information in this article is correct at the time of publishing (October 2019). It could change depending on the outcome of Brexit.

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