Habitual residence condition for returning Irish emigrants


To get Child Benefit or a social welfare assistance payment when you return to Ireland, you need to show that you are habitually resident in Ireland. This is known as the habitual residence condition (HRC).

What is the habitual residence condition (HRC)?

The HRC is a condition that you must satisfy to qualify for certain social welfare payments. The term habitually resident is not defined in Irish law. In practice it means that you have a proven close link to Ireland.

You must satisfy the habitual residence condition for:

Does the HRC apply to me as a returning Irish emigrant?

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. To do this you must show that your main centre of interest is now in Ireland, and prove that you are resuming your previous residence here.

You do not have to be living in Ireland for a certain period of time to be considered habitually resident. Also your qualified adult and child dependants are not required to satisfy the HRC, unless they are applying for a payment in their own right.

How do I satisfy the HRC?

You will need to complete the HRC1 form (pdf) and submit this with your social welfare application. The form will ask for information on your life abroad and in Ireland - including your address and employment history, children and other family members.

When deciding if you satisfy the HRC, the Department of Social Protection considers:

  • Your level of contact with Ireland while you were abroad
  • If your family members have returned to Ireland with you
  • Why any of your family members remain abroad
  • The reason for your return
  • What arrangements you have made to remain in Ireland long-term
  • Whether you have transferred your belongings back to Ireland
  • Whether you have sold or terminated a lease on your home abroad

As part of your application, you should try to include evidence that you have returned to Ireland permanently and that you are resuming your previous residence here. For example, you could include proof that you:

  • Have transported your personal possessions back to Ireland
  • Are no longer employed abroad
  • Have terminated a lease on a rented property or sold your home abroad
  • Have closed your bank accounts abroad and transferred funds to Ireland
  • Have completed your recent studies abroad
  • No longer have a valid visa or residency permission abroad
  • Overstayed your visa abroad or if you were deported back to Ireland (if applicable)
  • Any other evidence that you have re-established your residence in Ireland.

What if I'm refused a payment because of the HRC?

If you are refused a payment, you can write to the Social Welfare Appeals Office and appeal the decision if you believe it is incorrect. You must appeal within 21 days of getting the decision on your claim. Read more about Social Welfare Appeals and see our checklist when appealing a social welfare decision.

Contact your local Citizens Information centre if you need help to place an appeal. Crosscare Migrant Project may also be able to help you to appeal an HRC related decision.

Where can I get more information on the HRC?

Read our guide to the habitual residence condition.

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

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

Page edited: 21 August 2020