Leaving Ireland and your social security entitlements
What is social security?
A country’s social security system can provide you with a benefit or payment, for example, if you are sick, unemployed, have children or retire.
Every year, Irish citizens leave Ireland to work, travel, study or retire abroad. Many others who have been living, studying or working in Ireland also leave to return to their home countries.
If you leave Ireland to live or work in another country, you may be able to use your Irish social insurance contributions to qualify for social security benefits in the country you are moving to. You can find more information about the social security arrangements that Ireland has with other countries.
Some Irish social welfare payments can also be paid abroad – find out more about going abroad and social welfare payments.
UK and social security benefits
The Convention on Social Security between Ireland and the United Kingdom (UK) (pdf) was signed by both countries on 1 February 2019. Under the terms of the Convention, pre-existing arrangements with regard to recognition of, and access to, social insurance entitlements will be maintained in both jurisdictions. This means that the rights of Irish citizens living in Ireland to benefit from social insurance contributions made when working in the UK will be protected and vice versa.
Countries covered by EU Regulations
If you move to live or work in a country covered by EU Regulations, you are entitled to be treated in the same way as the nationals in that EU/EEA member state for social security benefits or services. This means that you and your family are entitled to apply for any benefits or assistance available in that country.
If you are applying for insurance-based payments, social insurance contributions made in other EU/EEA member states can be taken into account.
Social insurance record
If you need to claim a social security benefit while living abroad, you will be asked to provide information about your Irish social insurance record.
Forms U1 and E104 are needed when claiming sickness, maternity or unemployment benefits abroad.
The U1 is called a portable document and it provides details of your Irish social insurance record. If you don’t bring your U1 with you, the country you have moved to will contact Irish authorities to get a record of your insurance contributions when you apply to them.
Requests for an E104 form (used for health related benefits) can only be made by the authority in the relevant EU member state.
A request from another EU/EEA member state for your social insurance record will be prioritised by the Department of Social Protection (DSP) so that you don’t lose out on any benefits due to you when abroad.
How to get your Irish social insurance record
If you want to bring your U1 with you, you can request your Irish social insurance record for U1 (pdf) before leaving. Processing your application can take some time as the DSP may have to contact your recent employers before U1 forms can be issued.
You should send your completed application form to the International Records Section of the Department of Social Protection.