Coming from the EU/EEA to work


As an EU national you are entitled to come to Ireland to take up employment or self-employment. You do not need an employment permit. Nationals from the other countries of the European Economic Area (EEA) that is, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, and Switzerland do not need employment permits to work in Ireland.

Brexit and UK citizens

On 31 January 2020 at 11pm the UK exited the EU. From that date the UK was no longer a member of the EU and was considered a third country. However, a transition period was in place until 31 December 2020. British citizens have the protection of the Common Travel Area between Ireland and the UK which continues since the UK left the EU. You can read more about ‘Residence rights of UK citizens’.



If you are an EEA or Swiss national you and your family members have the right to come to Ireland for 3 months with no conditions attached under the European Communities (Free Movement of Persons) Regulations 2015 which implement an EU Directive on the free movement of persons. You then have the right of residence for longer than 3 months if:


  • You have enough resources so that you and your dependants do not become a burden on the social assistance system and you have comprehensive sickness insurance


  • You are a student, you can maintain yourself, you have a place in an educational institution and you have sickness insurance.

EEA and Swiss nationals are not required to register with the immigration authorities. Family members of EU citizens who are not themselves EEA or Swiss nationals are required to register with the immigration authorities and apply for a residence card under EU Treaty Rights. You can read more in our document on the residence rights of EEA nationals.

Returning to Ireland

If you are an Irish citizen who has worked in another EEA country and are returning to Ireland, you are officially a migrant worker under EU legislation. This means that, among other things, your social security rights are extensively affected by EU Regulations.

Social security

If you are unemployed, your unemployment benefit in the country you are leaving may be transferred after you have been receiving it for 4 weeks. Under EU Regulations you can ask for it to be transferred to Ireland and you should bring a copy of the form U2 (which is replacing form E303) with details of your payment. You must, of course, comply with the rules for getting benefit in the country that you are leaving. When you arrive in Ireland, you should sign on at your local social welfare office - see 'Where to apply' below within a week. You may then receive your benefit for 13 weeks (up to 26 weeks in some cases). You get the same benefit as you would get if you stayed in the country you have left. You are entitled to medical card services in Ireland while you are receiving unemployment benefit from the other country.

After 13 weeks have expired, you will be in the normal Irish social welfare system. In order to qualify for benefits in Ireland, you need to get a job and pay at least one Class A PRSI contribution. At this point, your contributions from the other country you worked in may be added to your Irish contribution(s) to help you qualify for benefits.

When you are coming to Ireland you should bring a record of your contributions on Forms U1 (formerly E301) and E104 from the social security institution in the country you are leaving. These forms will help speed up the payment of benefits under EU Regulations.

If you are employed when you come to Ireland then you are covered by the normal Irish rules relating to social welfare.

Social security arrangements between the UK and the EU27 are unchanged at present.

Habitual residence

Under EU Regulations, EEA and Swiss citizens and non-EEA nationals who have previously worked in another EEA state, are exempt from the habitual residence condition for family benefits provided they are employed or self-employed in Ireland and subject to the Irish social welfare system.

EEA workers will satisfy the habitual residence condition for Supplementary Welfare Allowance but people from the EU/EEA who move to Ireland in search of employment are subject to the habitual residence test in the normal way while looking for work.

Rights while working in Ireland

As an EEA national working in Ireland, you are entitled to exactly the same rights as Irish citizens with regard to social welfare, employment rights and social rights in general. As soon as you come to Ireland you should register for tax and social insurance by applying for a Personal Public Service (PPS) number. If you need help finding a job in Ireland you can get advice on employment and training opportunities from your local Intreo Centre or Social Welfare Branch Office.

If you are posted here by your employer on a temporary basis, you are entitled to the equivalent of medical card services. If you are employed or self-employed and staying on a permanent basis, you come under the same rules for entitlement to health services as Irish nationals generally. Therefore, you must pass a means test to get a medical card.

Page edited: 4 January 2021