Returning to Ireland with children


Like many Irish people living abroad, you may decide to move home because you want your children to grow up in Ireland. You may want them to be educated in Ireland, or simply be closer to grandparents and extended family.

This document outlines the supports and services you may need to know when returning home to Ireland with children.

If you need to get an Irish passport for your child, you can read more about Irish citizenship and passports for children born abroad.

If you have a baby after returning to live in Ireland, you can read more about Returning to Ireland and having a baby.

Accessing education and schooling for your children

There is a range of childcare options for pre-school children. If your child is over 2 years and 8 months of age when you return, they may be eligible for free pre-school hours provided through the State-funded Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Scheme.

If you have children of school-going age, you may need to enrol your child in primary school or secondary school.

If you have children going to third-level education, to qualify for free third-level fees, your child must have been resident in Ireland or another EU country for 3 out of the previous 5 years.

Read more about Accessing the education system on your return to Ireland.

Taking care of your children’s health

Children in Ireland are dependants of their parents and have the same entitlement to health services as their parents.

There are also a range of services specifically for children and certain services are provided free of charge for children. These services are generally provided as part of maternity and infant welfare services, health services for preschool children and school health services. Children are also entitled to vaccination and immunisation services free of charge.

All children under the age of 6 are entitled to free GP visits with a GP visit card. The GP visit card for children under 6 also covers specific assessments at age 2 and 5 and care for children with asthma. If your income is below a certain level, you and your dependent children may also be entitled to a medical card.

Read more about health services for children in Ireland.

Child Benefit and other social welfare supports for families

The Department of Social Protection provides social welfare payments to support families and specifically children. You can find out more about the different types of social welfare payments for families and children.

Child Benefit is the most common payment to families with children. You must be habitually resident in Ireland to qualify for Child Benefit. If your child was not born in Ireland, or their birth is not registered within the required time (3 months), you must fill in Child Benefit (form CB1) (pdf). Read more in our document on Child Benefit.

If you have enough PRSI contributions, you may qualify for Maternity Benefit following the birth of your baby or Adoptive Benefit following adoption of a child.

Paternity Benefit is paid to new parents (other than the mother of the child) during paternity leave.

Parenting and employment rights in Ireland

Following the birth of a baby, mothers are entitled to maternity leave from employment. New parents (other than the mother of the child) are entitled to 2 weeks paternity leave from employment or self-employment following birth or adoption of a child. If you have become a parent through adoption, you are entitled to a period of adoptive leave from employment.

Both parents are entitled to unpaid parental leave from work. In general, you must have been working for your employer for at least 12 months to be entitled to parental leave.

Read more about Employee rights and entitlements.

Caring for a child with a disability

Children with disabilities are entitled to the same services and family benefits as all other children. There is also a range of additional supports and services available to parents and carers of children with disabilities. They apply whether the child was born with a disability or acquired it later.

Community care services include public health nurses, social workers, occupational therapists, home help services, chiropody services, speech and language therapy services, respite care and day care.

If you are caring for a child with a disability you may qualify for financial support. For example Carer’s Benefit, Carer’s Allowance, Carer's Support Grant or Domiciliary Care Allowance. Read more about Caring for a child with a disability.

Supports and entitlements for people parenting alone

A range of benefits and entitlements are available to people parenting alone. These include the Single Person Child Carer Credit (SPCCC) and the One-Parent Family Payment (OFP) for people on low incomes. You can read more about supports and benefits available to people parenting alone.

If you are an unmarried parent or will be parenting alone, you may also need to know about custody, access, inheritance and maintenance. You may also have an interest in the issue of legal guardianship.

Page edited: 21 August 2020