Planning your journey home to Ireland


This page aims to help you plan your journey home to Ireland. It covers travel, passports, immigration and customs, shipping your personal belongings, importing your car and bringing pets to Ireland. It also has information on important things to do before returning such as research housing, education and health.

Important things to do before returning


To help you find somewhere to live in Ireland, gather relevant documentation from the country you’re leaving, such as references from your current landlord.

Before your arrival, you should research renting or buying a home in Ireland. If this is not an option, you may be able to apply for social housing and get a Housing Assistance Payment (HAP), however you will need to satisfy certain criteria before your application is accepted.

For more information, read our page on housing supports for returning emigrants.


If you’re returning with children, you should book their school places in advance. Read about admission policies for Irish schools and see our checklists for enrolling children in primary and secondary schools.

You and your children may also be eligible for free tuition on a publicly funded third-level course. Read our information on the Irish education system for more information.


Before returning to Ireland, ask your doctor for copies of your medical records, prescriptions for drugs and medicines, and immunisation records for you and your family.

In Ireland, entitlement to health services is based on residency. To access public services, you must be ordinarily resident. This means you have been living in Ireland for at least a year or you intend to live here for at least one year. Depending on your circumstances you may be eligible for a medical card or GP visit card. You can also get private health insurance.

Read more about accessing healthcare on your return to Ireland.


If possible, you should try and secure a job before returning to Ireland. Read more about working in Ireland after living abroad.


You should read the latest travel advice from the Department of Foreign Affairs.


Check that your passport is valid before you travel. Renew your passport if it is due to expire in the next 12 months. If your passport has been lost or stolen, you should report it missing and replace it.

If you’re travelling with children, they must have their own passport. If your children are eligible for an Irish passport, you should get it before you travel.

If you’re travelling from certain European countries, you can use a passport card.

If you are a dual citizen, you can travel on either of your passports. However, we would recommend that you use your Irish passport when travelling to Ireland.

Read our page on Irish passports or go the Passport Online website for more information.

Immigration and customs

If you are an Irish citizen, you do not need immigration permission to return to Ireland. If you’re coming home to Ireland with members of your family who are not Irish citizens, such as a de facto partner, spouse, or civil partner, they may need immigration permission to live and work here. Read the residency and citizenship section of our website to ensure your family member applies for the appropriate immigration permission if needed, and you have all relevant documentation with you when you return.

When you arrive, customs officers may carry out checks on your belongings, including personal baggage. This is to ensure you are not carrying prohibited or restricted goods.

Be aware of customs regulations in relation to the amount of cash, tobacco and alcohol you can bring in to the country. Import charges, such as customs duty and Value Added Tax, may apply. However, you can get relief from import charges on certain items.

Shipping your personal belongingshome

If you’re returning to Ireland for an extended period of time, you will need to ship your belongings home.

When you’re deciding what to ship, be aware that the cost will depend on the goods’ size and weight. If possible, get sales receipts or invoices for all the items you’re shipping.

Depending on the type of goods you’re shipping, and where they’re coming from, import charges such as customs duty and Value Added Tax may apply.

You may be able to claim tax relief on certain items. Revenue has a full list of rules on relief from Customs Duty and VAT.

Importing a vehicle

Before you import your vehicle, make sure you have all the documentation that you need.

When importing a vehicle into Ireland, you may need to pay Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT). Revenue has information on VRT exemptions and a calculator that will tell you how much you may owe. You will also need to register the vehicle with the National Car Testing Service (NCTS), get motor insurance, and pay motor tax.

You may be able to claim relief from VAT and customs duties on your vehicle.

Find out about converting your driving licence to an Irish driving licence.

Bringing your pet to Ireland

The importation of pets into Ireland is controlled by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM). You are allowed to bring a maximum of 5 pets with you to Ireland under pet travel rules. Different rules apply if you are bringing more than 5 pets. You must have original paperwork for all pets, not copies. Your pet must also arrive with you, or 5 days before or after you.

There are different rules and procedures depending on the type of pet you are bringing to Ireland and where they are travelling from. Find out more about:

Before you travel, ask your vet for a copy of all your pets’ medical records. This should include information on prescriptions for medicines, immunisations and microchipping.

Find out more on the DAFM’s website.

Page edited: 22 March 2023