Returning to Ireland from the United States of America

Introduction

Before you return to Ireland from the United States of America (US), you may need help planning your move home. For example, you may have questions about transferring your medical records to a doctor in Ireland. Or you may have retirement savings and have questions about taxation.

This page covers the key differences between life in the USA and in Ireland, and how to plan for your journey home.

Before you arrive

Gather important documents

Make sure you have the following documents for you and your family.

  • Passports (both American and Irish if you have them)
  • Social security cards
  • Birth certificates
  • Marriage certificate
  • Medical records
  • Education certificates
  • Insurance documents
  • Pet passports
  • References from previous employers and landlords.

You may need original documents, but you can use cloud storage to keep copies safe online.

Managing your US social security benefits and retirement savings

If you are a United States citizen, you may continue to receive payments while outside the US. To qualify, you must:

  • Be eligible
  • Be in a country where the Social Security Administration can send the payments

The Social Security Administration has a tool to help you find out if you can continue to get your Title II Social Security payments.

If you have more questions once you arrive in Ireland, there is a list of contacts and services for people living outside the United States.

After you arrive

Opening a bank account

You can open a bank account in person at a bank branch or online. Whichever way you choose, you need to provide proof of your identity and verify your address.

The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) has some tips on opening a bank account.

Getting a Personal Public Service (PPS) number

Your PPS number is a unique number that helps you access social welfare benefits and public services in Ireland.

You already have a PPS number if you:

  • Were born in Ireland from 1971 onwards
  • Started work in Ireland after April 1979
  • Are getting an Irish social welfare payment

You must wait until you are back in Ireland to apply for your PPS number. To apply, you first need to register for a basic MyGovID account.

When you have your MyGovID account set up, you can apply online for a PPS number.

Applying online

You must wait until you are back in Ireland to apply for your PPS number. To apply, you first need to register for a basic MyGovID account. You can then fill in your application for a PPS number online using MyWelfare.ie. You will need to attend an in-person appointment to complete your application.

When you apply online, you will need to upload:

  • Proof of why you need a PPS number
  • Proof of your address
  • A copy of your photo identity document (passport, driving licence, ID card, etc.) If you do not have valid documents, you should provide whatever ID documents that you do have.

The documents you upload need to be clear and easy for someone to read.

If you are outside Ireland, contact Client Identify Services

You can apply for a PPS number if you are living outside Ireland and need a PPS number for an interaction with a specified body in Ireland. For example, someone who is a beneficiary under an Irish will may need to provide a PPS number before they can receive a grant of probate.

In these cases, you can contact the Department of Social Protection’s, Client Identity Services (CIS).

You can contact them by:

  • Email at cis@welfare.ie
  • Telephone 0818 927 999 (or +353 71 9672616, if calling from abroad)

They will send you the forms to request a new PPSN.

When you have returned these forms, they will then write to you with a response.

Exchanging a driving license

US driving licenses cannot be exchanged for an Irish license.

To apply for an Irish license, you need to take the driver theory test. You can find out more on the driver theory test website.

Once you have your learner permit, you only need to take 6 of the essential driver training (EDT) lessons instead of the usual 12 lessons. You will need to complete the Road Safety Authority’s application form for Reduced Essential Driver Training (pdf) to qualify.

When this is complete, you can apply for your driving test to get your full Irish driving licence.

Taxes

If you are a US citizen living in Ireland, you still need to file your taxes with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The IRS has a tax guide for US citizens abroad that can help you prepare your tax return.

Your US Tax Return

If you are living in Ireland and earning money from a job, you may qualify to exclude that income up to an amount that is annually adjusted for inflation. This is called a foreign earned income exclusion.

The IRS has an Interactive Tax Assistant tool to help determine whether your income earned in Ireland can be excluded from income reported on your tax return.

If you meet certain requirements, you may also qualify for the foreign housing exclusion or deduction.

Taxes in Ireland

In Ireland, the percentage of tax you pay depends on your income.

The first part of your income, up to a certain amount, is taxed at 20%. This is known as the standard rate of tax and the amount that it applies to is known as the standard rate tax band.

The rest of your income is taxed at the higher rate of tax, 40%.

The amount that you can earn before you start to pay the higher rate of tax is known as your standard rate cut-off point. You can see examples of how to calculate income tax using these tax rates and the standard rate cut-off point. There is also a graph showing the standard rate cut-off points for 2024.

If you are married or in a civil partnership, it may affect your tax bands and tax reliefs. Read more about taxation of married people and civil partners.

Finding work

If you are an Irish citizen returning home, you can work without a visa or employment permit. If you are bringing family members to live in Ireland who are from outside the EEA, Switzerland or the UK, they may have to apply for a visa or preclearance to enter Ireland.

If your family members are from outside the European Economic Area (EEA), Switzerland, or the United Kingdom, you should check if you need a visa to come to Ireland. They will have to apply for an employment permit to work in Ireland. Non-EEA citizens who already live in Ireland and have certain types of immigration permission can work without an employment permit. You also might not need an employment permit if you are joining your family in Ireland.

Where to look for work

You should regularly check these sources for new job opportunities:

Your Intreo Centre or Social Welfare branch office

Visit or call your local Intreo centre for information and advice on job vacancies. You can read more about employment services for jobseekers.

Websites

The Jobs Ireland website lists jobs available in Ireland and abroad. It also lists internships and employment programme vacancies. You can upload your CV so employers can access it and contact you directly.

Social media

Some social media sites post job vacancies and connect jobseekers with employers. Some employers share job opportunities on their company's social media accounts.

Recruitment agencies

The National Recruitment Federation (NRF) has a directory of recruitment agencies. You often need to register with these private companies, who may get a fee from the employer if you get the job. Contact specialist recruitment agencies if you are looking for a particular type of work.

Open days and recruitment days

Some employers and industries hold open days to recruit staff. Find out about these events online or in local newspapers.

Company websites

Visit the websites of companies relevant to your area of work. They may only advertise vacancies on their own website.

Healthcare in Ireland

Both private and public healthcare services are available in Ireland.

Public health services

The State provides public health services. Many public health services are free of charge, but in some cases, there may be a fee.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) is responsible for delivering public health services. Sometimes the HSE provides these services directly and sometimes the HSE funds other organisations to provide these services.

You are covered by public health services if you have been living in Ireland for at least one year or if you intend to live here for at least one year. This is called being ordinarily resident in Ireland.

Private health services

Either individual health professionals or healthcare companies provide private healthcare services. Typically, you pay the full cost of private healthcare services, but you can buy private health insurance to help cover the cost.

Arrangements vary from one company to another, but most private healthcare companies have agreements with hospitals to pay the hospital directly. In general, for outpatient costs you pay the health professional and then claim back from the health insurance company. You should check with your own company as to their procedures.

The following companies offer voluntary private health insurance in Ireland:

General Practitioners (GPs)

General Practitioners (GPs) are family doctors.

In Ireland, GPs provide broad services to patients on all health issues and can refer you to see specialists or hospital consultants if needed. Most GPs in Ireland are private practitioners, but the majority provide services on behalf of the HSE.

You can find a GP in your local area using the HSE’s Service Finder Map.

You do not need a PPS number or other documents to visit a GP.

Social welfare in Ireland

Irish social security benefits

In Ireland, social security benefits are known as ‘social welfare payments’. These social welfare payments provide financial support to people who are disabled, retired, sick, unemployed, or raising children on their own.

There are 3 main types of social welfare payments:

  • Social insurance payments
  • Social assistance payments (also known as means-tested payments)
  • Universal payments

You will need to meet certain requirements to qualify for these social welfare payments. You can read more examples and details about each type.

What are the rules covering payments?

The rules for social welfare payments are set out in the legislation and operational guidelines. You can find most of the operational guidelines for specific social welfare payments on gov.ie.

Can I appeal a decision?

Yes, you can appeal a decision within 21 days of the decision letter.

Housing in Ireland

Buying a home

The process of buying a home in Ireland involves several steps. Before you decide to buy, make sure you’ve done the following:

Find out what you can afford

Make a budget, and include insurance, legal fees, monthly mortgage payments, and stamp duty.

The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) has a budget planner that you can use to see how much you can afford each month.

Generally, you can borrow 4 times your income if you are a first-time buyer. The limit is 3.5 times your gross annual income if you are not a first-time buyer.

Read more in our step-by-step guide to buying a home.

Get a solicitor (lawyer)

You will need to hire a solicitor to do conveyancing. This is the legal worked involved in buying a house.

Since conveyancing charges can vary between solicitors, contact several different solicitors to compare prices.

You can use the Law Society’s “Find a Solicitor” search tool.

Get mortgage approval

A mortgage is a long-term loan secured against the property you buy. This means if you don’t repay your mortgage, you may lose your home.

There are different types of mortgages and different mortgage providers. You should contact several different mortgage providers to find out who can offer you the best deal.

The CCPC has information on choosing the best mortgage for you.

You can also use the CCPC mortgage calculator to check what your monthly repayments will be. The amount depends on:

  • The amount you borrow
  • How long the mortgage will last
  • The interest rate

Renting a home

In Ireland, the term “renting” is usually used in everyday conversation. Sometimes, you might hear words like “tenancy agreement” and “lease” used as well.

Consider these questions before viewing places to rent:

  • How much can you afford in rent and bills?
  • What is the standard of the accommodation?
  • What is the Building Energy Rating (BER) of the property?
  • Where is the property located? Is it near your work or college?
  • How long do you plan to stay there?
  • Do you want to share a bedroom, bathroom or kitchen?

Residential Tenancies Board (RTB)

The RTB is an independent public body that:

  • Registers tenancies
  • Resolves disputes
  • Regulates the residential rental sector

The RTB has a helpful list of rights and responsibilities for renters.

Landlords cannot discriminate against you as a potential tenant.

Read more about your equality rights when renting in Ireland.

What are the rules about deposits?

You cannot be forced to make upfront payments of more than 2 month’s rent. This includes a deposit of a month’s rent and one month’s rent in advance.

If you are getting a social welfare payment and are unable to pay the deposit, the Department of Social Protection may be able to help with paying a deposit.

You should get a receipt for any deposit you pay. You may lose your deposit if you don’t give proper notice, cause damage to the property or leave without paying bills or rent.

You can read more about tenants’ rights and responsibilities.

Education in Ireland

The Irish education system includes:

Many people choose to continue after post-primary school to further education and third-level education.

Primary and post-primary education

There are 2 types of primary schools in Ireland:

  • National primary schools (often called ‘national schools’) that are funded by the State and do not charge fees
  • Private primary schools, which do charge fees

Most children in Ireland go to a State-funded national primary school.

There are 3 types of post-primary or secondary schools:

  • Voluntary secondary schools are privately owned and managed, usually by religious institutions, a charitable trust, or a private charitable company
  • Community colleges that are managed by the local Education and Training Board (ETB)
  • Community schools that have been established by one or more private or religious patrons coming together and having ETB sponsorship or resulting from combining several voluntary secondary and ETB schools together

Children usually start post-primary school when they are 12 or 13 years old. Most children attend State-funded post-primary schools, which do not charge a fee.

Finding a school

You can find primary and post-primary schools by type and location using the Department of Education’s Find a School tool. This tool can filter your search results by ethos, language of instruction, and gender. You will see a map showing schools that meet your selection.

Most schools have a website with information about their ethos, policies, curriculum, and extra-curricular activities on offer. You can also contact a school directly for more information.

Applying to a school

You should apply to the school in writing. If they don’t have an application form, you can apply by letter or email.

All schools must publish an ‘admissions notice’ and an ‘admissions policy.’

The admissions notice tells you:

  • When the school will start accepting applications for the year (when to apply)
  • When you will get the decision on your application
  • When you must accept a place

The admissions policy describes the rules the school will follow for selecting students and how they make their decisions. It also states what happens if the school has no space for new students (sometimes referred to as 'over-subscribed').

Higher and further education

A wide range of institutions provide third-level education in Ireland. The university sector, the technological sector, and colleges of education are substantially funded by the State. There are also a number of independent private colleges.

If you are thinking of going to college you can search the Qualifax website for details on courses. Generally, applications for undergraduate courses in Ireland are made through the Central Applications Office (CAO). You can find more information in our documents on application procedures and entry requirements, third-level fees, and tax relief for third-level fees.

If you think you might qualify for a grant, you can read more about maintenance grant schemes for students on third-level courses and grants and funds available for mature students.

More information

Visit our Returning to Ireland portal for more information to plan your journey.

Page edited: 19 June 2024