Planning your journey home


This article aims to help you plan your journey home to Ireland. It covers travel, passports, immigration and customs, shipping your belongings, importing vehicles 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, get 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/or 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 subsidised healthcare, like a medical card or GP visit card. Alternatively, you may wish to 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.


Be aware of COVID-19 travel restrictions when planning your journey to Ireland. You should read the latest travel advice from the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Read about returning to Ireland during COVID-19 for more information on what you need to do before you travel, and after you return to Ireland.


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, we would recommend that you get it before you travel.

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

Dual citizens can travel on either of their passports. However, we would recommend that you use your Irish passport when travelling to Ireland.

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

Immigration and customs

If you’re moving to Ireland for good, members of your family, such as a de facto partner or spouse, or civil partner, 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 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.

Shipping your belongings home

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, weight and shape. 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 relating to relief from Customs Duty and VAT.

Importing a vehicle

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

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


The importation of pets into Ireland is strictly controlled by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and the Marine (DAFM). You are allowed to bring a maximum of 5 pets with you to Ireland no matter where you are coming from. You must have original paperwork for all pets, not copies. Your pet(s) must also arrive 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: 2 September 2020