Habitual residence condition (HRC) for Irish citizens returning home

What is the habitual residence condition (HRC)?

If you want to apply for certain social welfare payments (such as Child Benefit), you must show that you’re ‘habitually resident’ in Ireland.

The term ‘habitually resident is not defined in Irish law. In practice, it means that you can prove a close link to Ireland, you have lived here and plan to continue living here for the foreseeable future.

When deciding if you are habitually resident, the Department will consider the following 5 factors:

  1. How long you have lived in Ireland or any other country
  2. The reason you lived abroad
  3. The nature and pattern of your employment
  4. Your main place of interest
  5. Your plans to live in Ireland for the foreseeable future, according to the evidence provided

When you are habitually resident, you are said to ‘satisfy the habitual residence condition’ (HRC).

See ‘How do I satisfy the HRC?’ below.

Payments that require the HRC

I’m an Irish citizen – does the HRC apply to me?

Yes, the HRC applies to anyone applying for any of the social welfare payments listed above. Irish citizens are not exempt from the habitual residence condition.

If you have returned permanently to Ireland, you can be regarded as being habitually resident on your return if you can:

  • Show that your main centre of interest is now in Ireland
  • Prove you are resuming your previous residence here (see ‘How do I satisfy the HRC?’ below)

You do not have to be living in Ireland for a certain period of time to be considered habitually resident. In other words, if you are an Irish citizen and meet all the conditions set out below, you can be habitually resident from the date you return.

If you have children or qualified adult dependants, they do not have to satisfy the HRC unless they are applying for their own payment.

How do I satisfy the HRC?

You must complete the HRC1 form (pdf), and send it with your application form for the payment, to the relevant authority (for example, to the Child Benefit Section in the Department of Social Protection).

The HRC form will ask you for information about your life abroad and in Ireland, including your address(es), employment history, children and other family members.

Show evidence

As part of your application, try to include evidence that you have returned to Ireland permanently and that you are resuming your previous residence here.

For example, gather letters, emails or other documents proving you:

  • Have moved your personal belongings back to Ireland
  • Have imported your car and registered it here
  • Are no longer employed abroad
  • Have started a new job in Ireland
  • Have ended a lease on a rented property abroad
  • Sold your home abroad
  • Have rented or bought a property in Ireland
  • Have closed your bank accounts abroad and transferred funds to an account in Ireland
  • Have completed your recent studies abroad
  • No longer have a valid visa or residency permission abroad
  • Overstayed your visa abroad or were deported back to Ireland (if applicable)

You can include any other evidence that shows you have re-established your residence in Ireland.

The Department makes a decision

The Department will review your application by considering the 5 factors listed above. When considering these factors, they will examine:

  • Your level of contact with friends or family in Ireland while you were abroad
  • If your family members have returned to Ireland with you, or if they remain overseas
  • The reason for your return
  • What arrangements you have made to stay in Ireland long-term (for example, where you will live and work)
  • Whether you have moved your belongings back to Ireland
  • If you have imported your car and registered it here
  • If you have joined any local clubs or organisations

Read more about the 5 factors in the Operational Guidelines on the Department's website.

I’ve been refused a payment because of the HRC

If you are refused a payment because of the HRC and you believe it is incorrect, you can send additional evidence to the Department and ask them to review their decision.

You can also write to the Social Welfare Appeals Office to appeal the decision. You must appeal within 21 days of getting the decision. There is no charge for making an appeal.

Read more about Social Welfare Appeals and see our checklist when appealing a social welfare decision.

If you need help submitting an appeal, you can contact your local Citizens Information Centre. You can also contact Crosscare Irish Diaspora Support Project for help with appealing a HRC decision.

More information

Read our guide to the habitual residence condition.

You can also read the Department’s Operational Guidelines on the habitual residence condition.

Crosscare Irish Diaspora Support Project’s website has useful FAQs about social welfare and the HRC for returning Irish emigrants.

Page edited: 8 September 2023