Retiring to Ireland


If you are thinking of retiring to Ireland, you need to find out about the practicalities involved in moving to Ireland from another country. The following information outlines the key issues to consider and check and may help you to make a smooth transition from abroad to this country.

Residence rights

Not everyone has the right to come and live in Ireland. Your right to reside here, depends on your nationality and your particular situation.

  • EEA and Swiss nationals: Irish citizens returning to Ireland have an automatic right to reside here and UK citizens may live in Ireland without any conditions or restrictions. EEA and Swiss nationals have the right to stay in Ireland and your family members have the right to stay here. There are however some limits to this right. EEA and Swiss nationals and their families can remain in Ireland for up to 3 months without restriction. If you are retired and plan to stay more than 3 months, you must have sufficient resources and sickness insurance to ensure that you do not become a burden on the State, or you must be employed or self-employed. (The European Economic Area (EEA) comprises the member states of the European Union, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.)
  • Non-EEA nationals: citizens of certain non-EEA countries must apply for an entry visa before they travel to Ireland. You can find out if you need a visa to enter Ireland. When you have arrived in Ireland, if you are not an EEA or Swiss national, you must have permission to remain if you wish to stay for more than 3 months. If you are retiring to live in Ireland, you must be able to prove you have sufficient resources to support yourself and obtain permission to remain by registering with your local immigration registration officer following your arrival in Ireland.


You may find that housing is expensive in Ireland, irrespective of whether you are thinking of renting or buying a home. If you want to buy a home in Ireland you need to be aware of the prices, the process by which houses are bought and sold and the initial costs that are involved. There are no restrictions on the purchase or rent of residential property or land. Rented accommodation comes in many forms including houses, flats and apartments.

If you are thinking of returning, Safe Home Ireland provides information, advice and support to Irish emigrants wishing to return or move to Ireland.

Health services

If you are normally resident in Ireland, you are entitled to a range of health services that are either free of charge or subsidised by the Irish Government. If you are planning to retire in Ireland you should find out about entitlement to public health services. Depending on your income, you may be eligible for a medical card which entitles you to certain health services at no cost. GP Visit Cards entitle you to free GP Visits.

In addition to the public health system, people in Ireland can avail of a range of private health care services. You must pay the full costs of treatment if you opt for private health care. There are a number of private health insurance companies in Ireland. If you are normally resident in Ireland, you are entitled to the same benefits from your private health insurance as any other Irish citizen. Your private health insurance premium attracts tax relief at the standard rate (20%).

Social security entitlements

If you are thinking of coming here to retire, you should find out about the social security system in Ireland. There may be some significant differences between the system here and your home country. You need to find out more about moving to Ireland and your social security entitlements. There is a residency requirement to qualify for social assistance payments in Ireland.


Most long-term contributory pensions such as old age or widowed pensions can be paid in any country so you can have your pension from another country paid in Ireland. There is information available about pensions in Ireland. If you have worked in more than one EU/EEA country or in a country with which Ireland has a Bilateral Social Security Agreement then your periods of insurance can be combined with Irish insurance to see if you would qualify for a pension from each country. If you are getting a pension under EU Regulations or a Bilateral Agreement you may be eligible for the Household Benefits Package.


If you are moving to Ireland you need to know about residency for tax purposes. You can find out about income tax credits and reliefs and how pensions are taxed. There are some special tax arrangements for people aged 65 or over and tax relief is available for certain medical expenses including nursing home costs.

Working in retirement

Some retired people may only have retired from one occupation. Retiring from work therefore may simply signal a career change. Not everyone has an automatic right to work in Ireland - so check in advance whether you require permission to work in Ireland.

Most legislation dealing with the protection of employees in Ireland does not have an upper age limit. This means that if you are working in retirement, then you have the same employment rights as everyone else. If you decide to work part-time, you can find out about employment rights of part-time workers.

Driving, cars and transport

Full driving licences from all other EU member states (and some other countries) are recognised for use in Ireland. You may be able 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). If you are aged over 66 and living permanently in Ireland you are entitled to free travel on public bus and rail transport.

Other issues for people moving to Ireland

There are strict regulations about importing pets from abroad and there are customs regulations about the importation of prohibited or restricted goods.

Irish citizens living in Ireland have the right to vote in all elections and referenda. If you are living in Ireland but are not an Irish citizen you may vote in some elections. You can read about the political system at national level and the political system at local level.

Active retirement is a concept while has become increasingly popular in Ireland and there is a range of organisations which promote education and leisure activities for retired people.

Page edited: 12 December 2016