Bringing your non-EEA spouse or civil partner home to Ireland
Irish citizens do not have an automatic entitlement to bring family members who are not nationals of the European Economic Area (EEA), EU, UK or Switzerland to live in Ireland. If you are returning to Ireland with your non-EEA spouse or non-EEA civil partner, your spouse or civil partner must get permission from the Irish Immigration Service Delivery (ISD) to live with you in Ireland.
If your spouse or civil partner is a citizen of Ukraine, they do not need a visa or preclearance. You can read coming to Ireland from Ukraine for more information.
This page is a step-by-step guide to the immigration process for your non-EEA spouse or civil partner. We also have a step by step guide if you are returning with your non-EEA de-facto partner.
You can no longer register a civil partnership in Ireland. Civil partnerships registered abroad after 16 May 2016 are not recognised as civil partnerships in Ireland. Under the Marriage Act 2015, same-sex couples can get married in Ireland. Same-sex marriages which were registered abroad before the Marriage Act 2015 are also recognised in Ireland.
Step 1: Check if your partner needs a visa to enter Ireland
If your spouse or civil partner is a citizen of a non-EEA country, they may need to apply for a visa before they can travel to Ireland . You can use the ISD website to check if they need a visa.
If they do not need a visa, they can travel to Ireland without a visa or preclearance. However, all citizens of non-EEA countries, whether they need a visa or not, must go through border control at point of entry (which is usually the airport) when they arrive in Ireland, see 'Prepare for border control' below.
Step 2: Send in the visa application
If your spouse or civil partner needs a visa, they must complete the online application form. They will need to print it out, sign it and gather several supporting documents to send in with the application.
Your partner must submit these documents and signed application form within 30 days of submitting the online application. Some embassies and consulates have additional requirements. At the end of the online application they will be given a summary application form.
This will include:
- The address to send the signed form and supporting documents to (usually the Irish Embassy or Consulate nearest to them)
- Details of the fee and how to pay
- The reference number for their application
How do I apply for my children?
Children (under the age of 18) apply for a visa in a similar way to adults using the online form. Their birth certificate must be submitted with the application. ISD has information on visa applications for children aged under 18.
Checking the progress of the application
Your spouse or partner can use their reference number to check the progress of the application. Decisions at the Dublin Visa Office are published on the ISD website by reference number. If their application was sent to a visa office outside of Ireland, they should contact that office for processing information.
Your partner should be aware of processing times for preclearance and visa applications. They are advised not to make any travel arrangements until they get a decision on their visa or preclearance.
If your partner’s application is refused, they can appeal this decision within 8 weeks of the date of the refusal letter. The appeal process is free and they can appeal once. The appeal should address the reasons for refusal stated in the refusal letter and provide extra supporting documents if possible. The refusal letter will say where your appeal should be sent.
Your partner cannot travel to Ireland until their visa is granted or their preclearance letter is received.
Step 3: Prepare for border control
All citizens of non-EEA countries, whether they need a visa or not, must go through border control at point of entry (which is usually the airport) when they arrive in Ireland. At border control an immigration officer examines your spouse’s or civil partner’s documents. The immigration officer will then decide if your spouse or civil partner is allowed to enter the country.
Your spouse or civil partner should tell the immigration officer that they plan to apply for residency in Ireland, based on their relationship with you.
At border control, your spouse or civil partner will be asked for the following documents at a minimum:
- Valid passport
- D Visa (if they are from a visa-required country)
- Marriage or civil partnership certificate
If your spouse or civil partner is allowed to enter Ireland, the immigration officer will place a landing stamp in their passport. The landing stamp gives them permission to stay in Ireland up to the date indicated or to a maximum of 3 months.
You can read more about getting permission to enter Ireland.
Step 4: Register with immigration and apply for residency
Your spouse or civil partner must be in Ireland before they can register with immigration authorities and apply for residency permission. Residency permission allows your non-EEA spouse or civil partner to live with you in Ireland.
Your spouse or civil partner must register with the immigration authorities within 90 days of their arrival in Ireland or within the time specified on the landing stamp (which may be for less than 90 days) provided at border control.
If your spouse or civil partner is living in Dublin, they need to call Freephone 1800 741741 to make an appointment to go to the Immigration Service Delivery Office at 13/14 Burgh Quay, Dublin 2. You should also attend the appointment with your non-EEA spouse or non-EEA civil partner.
You and your spouse or partner need to provide the following to register with immigration and apply for residency:
- Your original marriage or civil partnership certificate (not a photocopy)
- Your original passport (not a photocopy)
- Your spouse’s or civil partner’s original passport (not a photocopy)
- Evidence of your joint address in Ireland
- Registration fee of €300
At the appointment, your partner will have their fingerprints and photo taken. ISD provides more information about what happens at the registration office.
If residency permission is granted
The Registration Officer will put a Stamp 4 in your spouse’s or civil partner’s passport. Your spouse or civil partner then has permission to live and work in Ireland for the length of time stated on the stamp.
If residency permission is not granted
In some cases, a Stamp 4 may not be given, for example if more information is needed about identity, criminal history or relationship history. If this happens, your partner may be asked to make a written application for residency to ISD. Your partner is not entitled to work in Ireland until they have a Stamp 4.
Step 5: After residency permission is granted
If your spouse or civil partner is given permission to live with you in Ireland, they will get Stamp 4 in their passport. Stamp 4 allows them to live and work in Ireland for the length of time stated on the stamp.
Your spouse or civil partner will also be issued with a registration certificate called an Irish Residence Permit (IRP). This is a credit-card sized plastic card that displays basic information about the card holder.
After permission is granted, your non-EEA spouse or civil partner must inform ISD of any change of address within 2 days of moving. Also, if their family circumstances change (for example, if your relationship breaks down) they must tell ISD.
Make a note of when the residency permit must be renewed
Your spouse or civil partner’s Stamp 4 permission will usually be valid for 3 years. In order to stay in Ireland, your spouse or civil partner will need to renew this permission before it expires.
Crosscare Irish Diaspora Support Project has a range of useful resources to help you to bring your non-EEA family members home to Ireland.
Immigration Services Division (ISD) has a family reunification policy (pdf), which sets out rules for how families from outside the EEA, UK and Switzerland can join people who live in Ireland.