Residence rights of EU citizens and their families in Ireland


If you are an EU citizen, you have certain residency rights in Ireland. You also have residency rights if you are a citizen of the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland. The EEA is made up of the member states of the EU, plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.

Your right to reside depends on what you are doing in Ireland. Your residence rights also apply to certain family members, even if they are not EEA or Swiss citizens themselves.

You can enter Ireland and stay here for up to 3 months (6 months if you are looking for a job) without restriction. If you plan to stay more than 3 months, you must either:

  • Be working (either employed or self-employed)
  • Have enough money and sickness insurance to support yourself and your family
  • Be enrolled as a student or vocational trainee or
  • Be a family member of an EEA or Swiss citizen in one of the previous categories.

When you come to Ireland, you do not need to register with the local immigration office and you do not need a residence card to live here. If you have family members from outside the UK, EEA or Switzerland, they must:

  • Apply for residence
  • Register and get an Irish Residence Permit

They may also need to apply for a visa before travelling to Ireland.

Right to enter Ireland

You do not need a visa or preclearance to come to Ireland if you are a citizen of the EEA or Switzerland.

Ireland is not part of the Schengen Area.

Because of free movement rules in the EU, you can only be refused entry to Ireland in very limited situations:

  • You are suffering from a serious contagious disease which poses a serious threat to the population
  • Your past behaviour, including any criminal convictions you may have, is deemed to pose a substantial risk to public security or public policy

Your family

Your family can travel with you. If members of your family are not citizens of the EEA, Switzerland or the UK, they may need a visa to enter Ireland.

If your family member has a residence card under EU regulations issued by another EEA country or Switzerland, they do not need a visa to enter Ireland. You should note that a family member normally gets this type of residence card if you are residing in a country that is not your country of nationality.

If you are not sure about the type of residence card your family members have, you should check with the immigration authorities in the country where you live.

Worker status and former worker status

If you are an EEA or Swiss citizen, you can stay in Ireland for up to 6 months if you have moved here and are looking for work. You can transfer your unemployment benefit from your country of origin and it will be paid to you in Ireland for up to 3 months (can be up to 6 months in some cases).

You have a right to live in Ireland if you are working.

In EU law, a worker is any person who undertakes ‘genuine and effective’ work for which they are paid under the direction of someone else. You do not have to be earning over a particular amount, or working a particular number of hours per week, to be an EU worker.

You are also legally resident in Ireland if you are self-employed and your work is ‘genuine and effective’.

If you have lived in Ireland as an EU worker or self-employed person for 5 years, you have a permanent right of residence in Ireland.

Former workers

You keep your worker status if you stopped working because:

  • You had an illness or an accident.
  • You became voluntarily unemployed and started vocational training related to the work you were doing.
  • You became involuntarily unemployed. In this case, you can keep your worker status for:
    • 6 months if you worked in Ireland for less than one year
    • As long as you are continuing to look for work, if you have worked in Ireland for a year or more

If you are on maternity or paternity leave, you are classed as still working.

Having the right to reside is a condition for getting some social welfare payments.


You have the right to live in Ireland if you are:

  • Enrolled in an approved college
  • Have enough income to live without needing support from the social welfare system in Ireland
  • Have comprehensive health insurance

Your right to live in Ireland ends when your studies end, unless you have a legal right to live on another basis (for example, you get a job, or you have sufficient resources).

People with ‘sufficient resources’

You can live in Ireland for as long as you have enough money to support yourself and your family, and you have comprehensive health insurance.

There is no fixed amount of money needed to show that you have enough money to support yourself and your family.

This category often applies to pensioners who decide to live in Ireland and who get a pension from another country that is enough for them to live on.

Residence based on ‘derivative’rights (parents of EEA or Swiss dependent children)

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has made some important decisions about the right to reside of parents of a child with EEA or Swiss citizenship. These rights are called ‘derivative rights’ of residence. They are important in situations where an EEA or Swiss parent does not have a legal right to reside based on their own activities, or a Non-EEA citizen cannot apply for a residence card based on the activities of their EEA or Swiss spouse or partner.

A Non-EEA citizen can apply for residence based on a derivative right, or an EEA or Swiss citizen can derive a legal right of residence in the State, which could be important for claiming a social welfare payment or access to local authority housing.

A person with derivative rights does not automatically qualify for permanent residence.

This table has examples of cases where a derivative right of residence was granted by the CJEU, and explains who can claim residence based on the CJEU decision.

CJEU case The child is: Who can claim a derivative right of residence?
Zambrano An Irish citizen living in Ireland

Under 18


A parent who is involved in the upbringing of the child

A Non-EEA citizen parent can apply for residence as the parent of an Irish citizen child




An EEA citizen

A child of an EEA worker or former worker

In full-time education (the child can be over 18)


Former EEA worker who has lost their worker status, or the Non-EEA spouse/partner of and EEA/Swiss citizen who has lost their worker status

EEA or Swiss citizen must have had worker status to begin with

Non-EEA parent can apply for residence using form EUTR1


Chen An EEA citizen with sufficient resources, including health insurance

Under 18


A parent who cannot qualify for residence based on their own activities, or the activities of another EEA family members (for example, their spouse or partner)

A Non-EEA parent can apply for residence using form EUTR1


Residence rights of family members

If you have the right to reside in Ireland based on one of the categories described above, then your family has the right to reside in Ireland with you.

If your family members are also EEA, Swiss or UK citizens, then you do not have to make an application for them to join you here in Ireland. They do not have to register with Immigration Service Delivery (the Irish immigration authorities).

If your family members are not EEA, Swiss or UK citizens, they must apply for residence.

Qualifying and permitted family members

In EU law, there are 2 types of family member who can apply for a residence card based on EU law: qualifying family members and permitted family members.

The following are qualifying family members:

  • Your spouse or civil partner
  • Your child or the child of your spouse under the age of 21
  • Your grandchild or your spouse’s grandchild under the age of 21
  • Your dependent parent
  • Your dependent grandparent
  • Your direct, dependent descendants or direct, dependent relatives in the ascending line (for example, great grandparents or great grandchildren)

Children over 21 are generally considered qualifying family members if they are in education, or are dependent on you due to an illness or disability. You will have to show that your parents or grandparents were dependent on you before they came to Ireland.

Permitted family members include:

  • Your partner
  • Any relative who is part of your household that is not a qualifying family member
  • Any relative who needs your personal care because of illness or disability

You can find the answers to frequently asked questions about bringing your non-EEA family member to Ireland on the Immigration Service Delivery’s website.

How to apply for a residence card fora Non-EEA family member

Before your family come to Ireland, they should check if they need a visa.

An application for a residence card as the family member of an EEA or Swiss citizen can only be made after your family have come to Ireland.

When your family enter Ireland, the immigration officer in the airport will stamp their passport for up to 90 days. They should apply for a residence card as soon as possible after arriving in Ireland.

Step 1: Complete a form

Your non-EEA family member must complete an application form:

They must complete one form for each person who needs to apply.

Step 2: Get their documents

The application form lists the documents that they must send. If they do not have all of the documents, they should send the application with a note that explains that they will send the other documents when they have them.

Step 3: Register with immigration

Immigration Service Delivery (ISD) may send your non-EEA family member a letter inviting them to register and get a temporary Irish Residence Permit while they are waiting for the application to be fully processed. This applies only to qualifying family members and only if they have sent enough documentation to prove their relationship with you and that you have a right to reside in Ireland (because you are working here for example).

Refusals and appeals

If the application is refused, your non-EEA family member can appeal the decision. They must complete form EUTR 4.

After a successful application

ISD will grant your non-EEA family member up to 5 years’ residence. This may be less if their passport is due to expire within the next 5 years or if your intended stay in the State is for a shorter period.

They must register and get an Irish Residence Permit. The IRP will have Stamp 4EUFAM written on it.

Changes in circumstances

Your family member’s residence is based on your right to reside as an EEA or Swiss citizen. If the relationship between you and the non-EEA citizen changes and they want to stay in Ireland, they may be able to apply to retain their status. This applies if:

  • The EEA or Swiss citizen dies
  • The EEA or Swiss citizen leaves Ireland and the non-EEA citizen is caring for children in Ireland
  • The relationship ends through divorce, annulment or dissolution of a civil partnership

Applications for retention of a residence card are made on Form EUTR 5.

Can an EEA or Swiss citizen be deported?

If you are not resident in the State on one of the grounds described above, you could be issued with a removal order. However, EEA and Swiss citizens are very unlikely to get a removal order based on not having a legal right to reside.

The Irish authorities can also remove an EEA or Swiss citizen on the grounds of

  • Public policy
  • Public health

A Removal Order cannot be disproportionate. In other words, a country could be breaking EU law if they remove you without good reason and without an examination of the facts of your case.

Permanent residence

You are entitled to permanent residence in Ireland if you have lived here legally for a continuous period of 5 years. You can apply for a permanent residence certificate, but this is not mandatory.

Your continuous residence is not affected by some temporary absences:

  • Absences of less than 6 months per year
  • One absence of 12 months for pregnancy and childbirth, serious illness, work, vocational training or if you are posted to another country (by your employer in Ireland)
  • Absences for compulsory military service

Your non-EEA family can also apply for permanent residence after 5 years residence in the State.

Further information and contacts

EU Treaty Rights Application Unit

Department of Justice

Residence Division
Immigration Service Delivery
13/14 Burgh Quay
Dublin 2
D02 XK70

Burgh Quay Registration Office

Immigration Service Delivery

Department of Justice
13/14 Burgh Quay
Dublin 2
D02 XK70

Page edited: 21 November 2023