Before you come to Ireland
Before you come to Ireland, you need to know if you are entitled to live here. Your right to live in Ireland depends mainly on your nationality and what you intend to do when you come here.
When you know if you are entitled to come and live in Ireland, you need other information about the formalities of living here. This page is an overview of the main things you need to know if you are thinking of coming to Ireland to live.
Visas and permission to enter Ireland
There are some general rules which apply regardless of the reason why you are coming to Ireland.
UK nationals: People who are citizens of the United Kingdom (UK) are entitled to live in Ireland without any conditions or restrictions.
EEA and Switzerland: In general, nationals of EEA countries or Switzerland, have the right to enter Ireland. The EEA is the EU plus Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein. You do not need a visa but you will need a valid passport or identity card in order to land. You are generally entitled to live in Ireland if you are employed or self-employed. You are entitled to come here to study or retire here if you meet certain conditions.
Your family can come to Ireland too, but they may need a visa to enter Ireland if they are not EEA or Swiss citizens themselves.
Coming to Ireland to work
You may need an employment permit to work in Ireland, or permission to open a business, if you are not in one of the categories below:
UK citizens can live and work in Ireland without restriction. If you have family members who are from outside the UK, EEA or Switzerland, they must apply to join you in Ireland.
EEA and Swiss citizens have the right to live, work or set up a business in Ireland. You are entitled to be treated in the same way as Irish workers. You are entitled to have family members come with you to Ireland.
Younger people from certain countries outside the UK, EEA or Switzerland can apply to come to Ireland on a working holiday.
Coming to Ireland to study
You may need to apply for a student visa before you come to Ireland to study. If you don’t need a visa, you still need permission to enter Ireland. This means you must show that you satisfy the conditions to live in Ireland as a student. Different rules apply for short-term courses.
If you move to Ireland with your children, they can go to school for free up to the end of secondary school (usually when the child is 17 or 18). You may have to pay third level fees. How much you pay depends on your residency permission and how long you have lived in Ireland.
In general, universities and other third-level colleges charge higher fees to students from outside the EEA and Switzerland.
General information about living in Ireland
Returning to Ireland: Our section on returning to Ireland has information about what you should know if you are planning on returning to Ireland after living abroad.
Government: Ireland is a parliamentary democracy. All residents have the right to vote in local elections and EU citizens also have the right to vote in European elections. UK citizens have the right to vote in national elections as well. Read further information about the national government and local government.
Tax and social insurance contributions: If you are working or self-employed you must pay PRSI contributions in the same way as Irish people. If you are resident in Ireland, you may be liable for income tax and for capital taxes. There are specific rules about residency for tax purposes.
Education: Free primary education and secondary education is available to all children aged under 18 legally resident in Ireland. There are also some fee-paying primary and secondary schools available. School attendance is mandatory until the age 16.
Housing: Some people live in owner-occupied private housing while a number live in private rented accommodation. Social housing is available but you generally need to have been resident in Ireland for a period of time before you become eligible for it.
Health services: If you are ordinarily resident in Ireland, you may be entitled to a range of health services that are either free of charge or subsidised by the Government. There is also a range of private health care services. Your permission to stay in Ireland may include a requirement that you have private health insurance.
Social security entitlements: If you are moving to Ireland you need to know about your social security entitlements. EEA and Swiss nationals come under the general rules on social security for migrant workers. This means that you may receive certain benefits from your home country while you are in Ireland and you may combine social insurance contributions paid in 2 or more countries to help you qualify for benefits. You are also entitled to the same social and tax advantages as Irish citizens.
There are social security arrangements with a small number of other countries. These generally allow contributions in the other countries to be combined with your Irish contributions to enable you to qualify for benefits.
Pets: There are regulations about importing pets from abroad, so you need find out about the procedures for bringing your pet to Ireland.
Customs: There are customs regulations about the importation of prohibited or restricted goods and Customs and Excise officers have the power to carry out searches of the baggage of people travelling to Ireland.
Driving, cars and transport: Full driving licences from all other EU member states (and some other countries) are recognised for use in Ireland. You should find out if you need to convert your driving licence to an Irish one. If you want to bring your car to Ireland you need to know about importing a car and implications for Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT).