Residence rights of EEA nationals in Ireland
If you are a national of the European Economic Area (EEA) or of Switzerland, you have the right to stay in Ireland, and your family members have the right to stay here also. There are some limits to this right, however.
You can stay in Ireland for up to 3 months without restriction. If you plan to stay more than 3 months, you must either:
- Be engaged in economic activity (employed or self-employed) or
- Have enough resources and sickness insurance to ensure that you do not become a burden on the social services of Ireland or
- Be enrolled as a student or vocational trainee or
- Be a family member of a EU citizen in one of the previous categories.
When you come to Ireland you do not need to register with the local immigration officer and you do not need a residence card to live here. If you wish to have a record of the residence in Ireland you can register with your embassy of your country in Ireland.
UK citizens: People who are citizens of the United Kingdom (UK) are entitled to live in Ireland without any conditions or restrictions.
Seeking employment in Ireland
If you are an EEA national, you can stay in Ireland if you are unemployed and 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). After that period, you may qualify for Jobseeker's Allowance if you satisfy the conditions, which include an Habitual Residence Condition.
Residence rights for your family
If you are an EEA or Swiss national, your family, whatever their nationality, also have the right to live with you in Ireland. Your qualifying family member is defined as your spouse, civil partner, children under 21 and other children who are dependent on you and their spouses or civil partners, your parents and your spouse or civil partner's parents, if they are also dependent on you.
The European Communities (Free Movement of Persons) Regulations 2015 transpose EU Directive 2004/38/EC (pdf) into Irish law. The Directive allows for a wider definition of family members than before.
The wider definition of family member means that the host member state must facilitate the entry and residence of other family members who do not have an absolute right to move but who are dependent on you or whose health is such that they require care by you. Member states must also facilitate the entry and residence of a partner with whom you have a durable relationship. These other dependants or partners who are not qualifying family members are permitted family members.
You can find more information about these EU Treaty Rights on the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service website. The Immigrant Council of Ireland provides information on family reunification for family members of EU citizens.
If your family members are not nationals of the EEA, they will need to apply for residence cards and may also need entry visas. There is no fee for the residence card. They will also need to register with immigration and get a registration certificate called an Irish Residence Permit (IRP). As dependants of an EEA citizen, they will be exempt from the fee.
Limitations on the right of residence
You or a family member may be asked to leave the State if you act in such a way as to be a danger to public order or security. Having a criminal record is not, in itself, grounds to be asked to leave. You may also be asked to leave on public health grounds.
You must be told reasons for the decision and given time to prepare an appeal.
These Regulations also introduced a right of permanent residence for EEA nationals and their family members after a five-year period of uninterrupted legal residence in the State.
Requirement to produce identity documents
Section 34 of the Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2011 provides that non-EEA nationals arriving in the State must present a passport or equivalent document when asked for it by an immigration officer. (Previously, it was not specifically stated that they had to present it.)
It also requires non-EEA nationals who are present in the State to provide such a document or a registration certificate on demand to the Minister, an immigration officer or a Garda, if asked to do so to prove that they comply with their permission to remain in the State. This requirement does not apply to people under 16 years of age, but it does now apply to non-EEA nationals who were born in Ireland.
Section 34 does not apply to people who are exercising EU Treaty Rights of free movement. However, anyone seeking to enter or live in the State on the basis of being an EEA national or a dependant of an EEA national is still required to provide satisfactory evidence of identity and nationality to establish that basis.
Parents of Irish citizen children
In 8 March 2011, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled in the Zambrano case C 34/09, that an EU member state may not refuse the non-EEA parents of a dependent child who is a citizen of, and resident in, an EU member state the right to live and work in that member state. Non-EEA parents who meet the Zambrano criteria may be given permission to live and work in Ireland without the requirement for an employment permit or business permission.
There is no charge for a residence card for a non-EEA national family member, for a permanent residence certificate or for a permanent residence card.
Non-EEA national family members who receive a residence permit under EU Directive 38/04 are exempt from the general fee for an Irish Residence Permit.
How to apply
For a visa for a non-EEA national family member, you must apply for a visa online.
For a residence card for a non-EEA national qualifying family member, apply using the new application form EUTR 1 (pdf). (Applications made on the old form will not be accepted after Friday 30 November 2018, and will be returned).
Completed application forms should be returned to the EU Treaty Rights Section of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS).
If your EU 1, EU 2 or EU 3 application has been refused you can request a review of this decision using form EU 4 (pdf) and explanatory leaflet (pdf).
Following divorce or annulment or the death or departure of the EU citizen, a holder of an EU1 residence card can apply to retain a residence card using application form EU5 (pdf) and explanatory leaflet (pdf).
Irish Residence Permit:
Apply to your local immigration registration office. In Dublin this is the Burgh Quay Registration Office. You must book an appointment online to visit it. Outside Dublin, apply to your regional registration office or local Garda District Headquarters.
Where to apply