Tips for Obtaining an Irish PPS Number as an Expat
In addition to the logistics involved in moving to a new country, the level of administration and red tape usually required can stack up fast. From researching tax laws to registering with local authorities, it’s natural for expats living in Ireland to get overwhelmed.
This is why at Expat Taxes, we hope to take at least one stress off your plate. As experts in tax advice for those moving to and from Ireland, we know a thing or two about getting yourself set up in Ireland.
For example, did you know that before you can access many public services and social welfare benefits in Ireland, you’ll need to obtain a Personal Public Service Number (PPSN)? While it might sound easy to get hold of this number upon arrival in Ireland, it can be quite a tricky process.
To help, we’re here with some practical tips on obtaining an Irish PPS number as an expat and ensuring your move to Ireland is as smooth as possible.
First things first, what is an Irish PPS number and why do I need one?
An Irish PPS number is a 7-digit number, followed by either one or two letters. The number generally acts as a unique personal identification number and is used to access:
- Social welfare benefits
- Public services
- Information through public service agencies
For those without a PPS number, accessing applications and information from public authorities can be difficult. This can include Government agency Revenue, which is responsible for all customs and taxation matters in Ireland.
Additionally, not having a PPS number in Ireland can also cause difficulties for those dealing with employers and employment contracts. With many work-related matters in Ireland requiring you to have an Irish PPS number, it’s essential that expats in Ireland prioritise their application.
Examples of work-related scenarios that may require an Irish PPS number:
- Setting up a bank account
- Getting set up with the Irish tax authority (and to receive tax credits)
- The ability for your employer to notify Revenue of your employment
If you’re wondering why an organisation might be requesting a PPS number, a list of state agencies that use PPS numbers can be found here.
Some of our clients struggle to obtain a PPS when setting up an Irish business (e.g. as a sole trader). A letter provided by a registered accountant/tax adviser can sometimes help with this i.e. to confirm that a PPS number is required to effect an income tax registration and to facilitate tax compliance.
Note: It is not necessary to have a PPS number while searching for work in Ireland. This includes applying for jobs and accepting an offer of employment.
Who are PPS numbers issued through?
PPS numbers in Ireland are issued through the Department of Social Protection.
How do I apply for an Irish PPS number?
Unfortunately, this is where obtaining a PPS number in Ireland can get complicated. If you’re an expat planning a move to Ireland, you’ll likely come up against issues when trying to commence the application process. This is because technically, in order to apply for a PPS number, you should already be living in Ireland.
While in very rare cases (more on this later) it may be possible for non-residents to initiate a PPS number application before arriving in Ireland, the official guidelines for obtaining a PPS number include providing evidence of:
- Your identity
- Why you need a PPS Number
- Your address
For the majority of expats relocating to Ireland, providing this documentation will require your presence within the state. This is why it’s usually recommended to only initiate your PPS number application once you’ve arrived in Ireland.
As an expat in Ireland, can I apply for an Irish PPS number online?
While it’s true that you can apply for an Irish PPS number online, the biggest issue for expats revolves around the fact that to apply for a PPS number online (through mywelfare.ie), you’ll require an Irish MyGovID account.
Sounds simple right? The problem is, to verify your MyGovID account (yes, you’ve guessed it!), you’ll require:
- An Irish PPS number
- A public services card
- And a phone number verified by the department
However, it’s not all bad news!
In some cases, a basic MyGovID account (i.e., without verification) may be enough to initiate your PPS application online. However, it will still only be in rare circumstances that the application of a non-resident will be accepted.
What documentation do I need to gather to obtain a PPS number in Ireland?
Now onto more practical matters. In addition to the application form mentioned above, expats will generally need to supply a range of documents before they can obtain an Irish PPS number. In most cases, this will include the following documents:
1. Evidence of your address
This document must show your name and address and not be older than 3 months. Examples of documents you can use to provide this information include:
- A household utility bill
- An official letter or document (from an official authority)
- A bank statement
- A property lease or tenancy agreement
- Confirmation of address by an accepted third party (this may include a hotel or hostel administrator, a school principal or a property owner)
If you are an expat staying with friends or relatives while setting up a life in Ireland, an original household bill from this property may also be accepted. In this case, a note from the bill holder confirming residency at that address will be required. (Note: For the bill holder confirming residency, they may be asked for further information to verify this claim).
2. Proof of your identity
To prove your identity for the purpose of applying for an Irish PPS number, the following official guidelines apply:
If you are an Irish citizen born in the Republic of Ireland, you will need to provide:
Your birth certificate and photographic ID, such as your passport or driving licence.
If you are an Irish citizen via naturalisation or Foreign Birth Registration, you will need to provide:
Your current passport or Certificate of Naturalisation OR your Foreign Birth Registration certificate AND Irish or UK driving licence or Irish learner driving permit.
If you are an Irish citizen born in Northern Ireland or a UK citizen, you will need to provide:
A current passport OR your birth certificate showing your mother’s birth surname AND your current driving licence.
If you are an EU/EEA citizen (other than Irish and UK), you will need to provide:
A current passport or national identity card.
If you are a non-EU/EEA citizen, you will need to provide:
A current passport.
Note: In most cases, copies of certificates or documents will also not be accepted. Therefore, you must have the original copy of the document in your possession as part of the application process.
- The following documents are also not accepted as evidence of your identity:
- Baptismal certificates
- Employment identity cards or personal letters
- Expired documents (For Irish and UK citizens, passports expired within the last 12 months may be accepted but it’s always best to provide up-to-date documents)
3. Proof of reason for why a PPS Number is required
For expats planning on working in Ireland, a PPS Number is usually an essential part of starting your new role. To do this, you should request an official letter from your employer confirming when your job is due to start or has already started. This letter should be:
- Printed on company-headed paper (with the employer’s contact details)
- Contain the employer or company’s registered number
As mentioned, you do not need a PPS Number to look for work in Ireland, or for an employer to make an offer of employment to you in Ireland. However, if you are already living in Ireland as a resident, a PPS number will still be required to access many services or entitlements. This can include:
- Applying for a driver’s licence
- Registering for school, college, or further education courses
- Applying for a social welfare payment
- To access medical services
Applying for a PPS number as a non-resident
Applying for a PPS number as a non-resident will only be possible under very limited circumstances. This is why in general, it’s easier to wait until your arrival in Ireland before initiating your application.
In the rare case that your application can be submitted as a non-resident from abroad, it may be necessary to involve a third-party representative (e.g. a solicitor or accountant) to act on your behalf. For this, a consent form will also be required.
In situations where an Irish PPS number is needed to acquire an inheritance, or for the sale/purchase/transfer of property (or for another exceptional reason) this questionnaire may also be necessary.
Unfortunately, even though a PPS Number Exceptional Application does exist and can be accessed online, there are no guarantees that your application will be successful. However, some examples of individuals that can at least enquire about submitting a PPS number under exceptional circumstances include:
- Those incapacitated
- Those working abroad
Again, we advise to never rely on the success of this type of PPS number application unless you have spoken directly with someone from the Department of Social Protection handling your case.
The time it takes to obtain a PPS number can vary from case to case. However, some of our clients have reported that it can take an average of up to 8 weeks to obtain a PPS based on current processing times (as at January 2023).
Additionally, responses and additional requests for information from the Department of Social Protection can also be slow — something worth bearing in mind if you are planning a relocation to Ireland.
Overall, we recommend applying for a PPS at the earliest opportunity if one is required.
Expert tips from Expat Taxes and how we can help:
With so much information to absorb, expats moving to Ireland can expect to undergo several steps before their PPS number application is accepted. Therefore, to ensure your application runs as smoothly as possible, our advice is to:
- Ensure you are in possession of original and up-to-date copies of your documents. This can include a valid passport, an original copy of your birth certificate (if applicable), employment or educational records, and financial/residency documents
- Maintain clear communication with your employer if you are about to commence employment in Ireland and do not yet have a PPS number
- Ensure only your most recent contact information is provided across all relevant forms and applications
- Seek out professional advice relevant to your move
But what about the other aspects of your move?
At Expat Taxes, we help expats moving to or from Ireland get to grips with their tax obligations and entitlements, as well as helping them understand how authorities such as Revenue will handle their tax affairs before or after their move.
If you’d like to learn more about what Expat Taxes can do for you, you can book a consultation with a member of our expert team. We help simplify your move to or from Ireland and give you the peace of mind you need to focus on the more exciting parts of your move!
DISCLAIMER The material in this article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or taxation advice. Specific legal and taxation advice should be sought before acting or refraining to act. All information and taxation rules are subject to change without notice. No liability whatsoever is accepted by Expats Taxes for any action taken in reliance on the information in this article or any of the articles in our blog series
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