Are you considering a move to Ireland? If so, you’re not alone. With the 2022 Irish Census showing an increase in the number of US citizens living in Ireland, there’s definitely something about the Emerald Isle that’s attracting expats from all over the world.
Whether it’s a job opportunity or the stunning natural beauty of the Wild Atlantic Way that’s inspiring your move, the logistics of relocating to a new country require some careful planning.
From navigating common cross-border challenges to getting set up with the Irish social security system, there are several factors to consider while packing up your things.
But don’t worry, there’s help on hand.
If you’re in the process of planning your move to Ireland or have recently arrived, our team is here with some practical insights for you — helping make your transition as seamless as possible.
As an expat in Ireland, here’s what you need to know.
1. Setting the Stage: Your New Irish Home
Moving to a new country should always begin with proper planning and a good understanding of what’s ahead. Especially when moving to Ireland from somewhere like the US, getting ahead of paperwork and cultural differences can make a big difference.
Just some of the things to consider when planning your move to Ireland include:
Visa requirements or employment permit
Before moving to Ireland, one of your first steps should be to understand the type of visa or employment permit you’ll need based on your unique situation. For example, if you’re travelling to Ireland and are not a citizen of the UK, Switzerland, or a country in the European Union or European Economic Area (the EU plus Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein), you’ll likely need a visa.
To avoid visa complications:
- Know which type of visa you need e.g. Irish work visa, long stay visa etc.
- Initiate the visa application process well in advance
- Gather all the necessary documentation in order to avoid delays
- Be aware that processing times may vary
Getting a PPS number
Acquiring a Personal Public Service (PPS) number is a crucial part of your move to Ireland. Upon arrival in the country, your PPS number will act as your unique identifier for official transactions and services, and will be necessary for getting set up with Ireland’s social security system.
To find out more about how to get a PPS number in Ireland, we have an entire article on the subject here.
Finding suitable accommodation
Deciding where to live when you first arrive in Ireland is crucial. With high rent costs in some of Ireland’s major cities and a generally competitive housing market, it’s vital to start planning your accommodation carefully, and ahead of time.
To ease the strain of finding somewhere to rent or buy in Ireland:
- Begin your search early: Be sure to research potential areas you’d like to settle in before your arrival to Ireland.
- Start with a base: Consider booking temporary or short-stay accommodation in Ireland to ensure you can view prospective properties in person.
- Consider additional costs: Budget for potential housing costs, including expenses like utilities, property taxes, and maintenance costs.
- Research the local housing market: Understanding the local housing market will help ensure you’re being treated fairly and are ready to hop on good deals at short notice.
2. Building a Supportive Network: Connecting as an Expat
Creating a network in a new country can make a huge difference in your overall expat experience. From making new friends to discovering new hobbies, engaging with your new surroundings is a great way to settle in.
To build up your support network in Ireland, we recommend:
- Engaging with local events: Attending local events, festivals, and gatherings is a great way to meet Irish people or fellow expats, and immerse yourself in Irish culture.
- Joining professional associations: Consider joining industry-specific associations and organisations to expand your network. Networking with peers at events, workshops, and seminars can open up a variety of new opportunities.
- Exploring volunteer work: Participating in volunteer work and engaging with local charity groups can be a fulfilling way to contribute to your new community. Explore the many opportunities to volunteer in Ireland, such as charity shops and community groups.
- Language classes: Language classes are an excellent way to enhance your communication skills and meet both fellow expats and locals in your community. In addition to English and Irish language (Gaelic language) classes, local community centres and schools often offer a range of exciting language courses.
Tip: Don’t forget to get an Irish SIM card when you move to Ireland so you can connect more easily with new friends. Phone providers such as Three, Vodafone, and Eir offer a range of prepay and bill pay plans with unlimited data and household internet packages.
3. Embracing Irish Culture: The Art of Irish Integration
Adapting to a new culture can not only enhance your social interactions, it can also ensure a smoother and more comfortable transition. This is why understanding and incorporating cultural etiquette can make a big difference to your time in Ireland.
To help, we suggest placing a focus on:
- Irish punctuality: Punctuality and respect for other peoples’ time is highly valued in Ireland, so make an effort to be on time for all appointments and social gatherings.
- Politeness prevails: Following on from the previous point, courtesy and respect for others are a big part of Irish culture. Don’t forget to use “please” and “thank you” in your interactions, and don’t be surprised to hear people thanking the bus driver when exiting the bus!
- Irish hospitality: Irish hospitality is renowned for its warmth and friendliness. The Irish love to offer guests a cup of tea, coffee, or even a meal during a visit to their home.
- Ireland’s history: Understanding the complex relationship between Ireland and Northern Ireland can be key to integrating more successfully within your community and showing respect for Irish culture.
4. Navigating Healthcare: Accessing Care in Ireland
As an expat in Ireland (and even as a traditional Irish citizen!), it’s essential to understand how the healthcare system works. Ireland’s healthcare system provides a range of services, and having the right information is key to keeping you and your family healthy during your time here.
Here are some key points to keep in mind:
1. Public vs. Private Healthcare: Ireland has a two-tier healthcare system that includes public and private services. Public healthcare is provided by the Health Service Executive (HSE) and is available to all residents, including expats. On the other hand, private healthcare offers faster access to specialists and treatment, but will come at a cost.
2. Register with a General Practitioner (GP): A General Practitioner (GP) will be your primary healthcare provider in Ireland. You should register with a local GP as soon as you arrive in Ireland to ensure access to non-emergency medical care.
3. Health insurance: Private health insurance is a popular choice for expats who want to access healthcare services more quickly, and may even be required for certain visa holders. Some common private healthcare providers in Ireland include VHI, Laya Healthcare, and Irish Life Health.
4. Emergency services: Emergency medical care is available to everyone in Ireland, regardless of insurance coverage. In case of a medical emergency, dial 112.
5. Medication and prescriptions: Medications prescribed by a GP can be obtained at pharmacies. But remember, some drugs may have different brand names in Ireland, so consult with your original healthcare provider to ensure you receive the correct medications.
Tip: For low-income households in Ireland, certain healthcare benefits may be available such as a GP visit card or Medical Card. To find out your eligibility, or to apply for your card, visit mymedicalcard.ie.
5. Exploring Irish Childcare & Education: For Greater Stability
When moving to Ireland with children, childcare and education will likely be a top priority. Ireland provides a variety of educational opportunities – in terms of both schools and daycare services – which you’ll want to familiarise yourself with before you arrive.
Schooling in Ireland
- Public and private schools: Ireland has both public (state-funded) and private (fee-paying) schools, with ‘international schools’ emerging as another type of Irish school.
- Primary and secondary education: The Irish education system is divided into primary (ages 4-12) and secondary (ages 12-18) levels — each with different application processes depending on your child’s specific age group.
- Third-level education: Ireland has several prestigious universities and colleges. If you have older children considering higher education, or you’re looking to study yourself, visit the individual websites of each institution for more information on their application procedures.
- Childcare facilities: There are many childcare centres, nurseries, and creches available in Ireland. Explore your local options, consider their hours of operation, and check for availability, as waiting lists can be common.
- Childminders: Some parents prefer childminders who care for children in a home environment. Be sure to choose a trusted (and registered!) childminder.
- After-school care: Many facilities provide after-school programs, which can be particularly useful if you’re working and need supervision for your children after school hours.
6. Navigating Transportation in Ireland: Staying on the Move
As a relatively small island, Ireland is known for being one of the easier countries to get around in short spaces of time. But, whether you’re travelling by car or public transport can make a big difference.
Here’s what you need to keep in mind when it comes to transportation in Ireland:
Ireland’s public transportation is well-developed in urban areas, including buses, trams, and trains. But, it’s important to remember that in more rural areas, local services may be more limited.
Driving in Ireland
In Ireland, cars drive on the left side of the road, with speed limits set in kilometres per hour (km/h) and varying by road type. EU/EEA licence holders can drive without restrictions, but non-EU/EEA licence holders may need to re-register or take a driving test in Ireland.
Bringing your car to Ireland
Bringing your own vehicle to Ireland is a great way to explore the country. But, before driving your car on Irish roads, you’ll need to:
- Register your car in Ireland and pay all relevant taxes, including Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT), road tax, and other fees
- Obtain Irish car insurance to meet local requirements
- Familiarise yourself with left-side driving and Irish road regulations
- Schedule a National Car Test (NCT) within seven days of your vehicle’s arrival for registration and VRT payment.
Looking for More Tips for Moving to Ireland? Explore Our FREE ‘Moving to Ireland’ eBook
If you’ve enjoyed some of the tips in this blog, you might be interested in downloading our FREE eBook for a more comprehensive look at what to expect during your move to Ireland.
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 from acting. All information and taxation rules are subject to change without notice. Expats Taxes accept no liability whatsoever for any action taken in reliance on the information in this article or any of the articles in our blog series.