Bringing your non-EEA spouse or non-EEA 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) or Switzerland to live in Ireland.
If you are returning to Ireland from outside the EEA with your non-EEA spouse or Non-EEA civil partner, your spouse or civil partner must get permission from the Irish National Immigration Service (INIS) to live with you in Ireland.
This is a step-by-step guide to the immigration process for your Non-EEA spouse or Non-EEA civil partner. We also have a step by step guide if you are returning with your Non-EEA de-facto partner.
Under the Marriage Act 2015, it is now possible for same-sex couples to become legally married in Ireland and you can no longer register a civil partnership in Ireland. Partnerships registered abroad on or after 16 May 2016 are not recognised as civil partnerships 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 INIS website to check if they need a visa.
If your spouse or civil partner needs a visa, they must apply for a Join Family Member (D) visa. They must apply for a visa online.
If your spouse’s or civil partner’s visa application is refused, they can appeal this decision. You can read detailed information on how to appeal a visa refusal.Crosscare Migrant Project has useful information on bringing non-Irish family members’ home to Ireland and completing the visa application.
Step 2: 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 land in Ireland.
Step 3: 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 period 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 must make an online appointment with INIS. You should also attend the appointment with your non-EEA spouse or non-EEA civil partner. You can book the appointment before coming to Ireland.
If your spouse or civil partner is living outside Dublin, you should go together to your local Garda District Headquarters. Before you go to register, you should contact the local Garda District Headquarters to check if you need to make an appointment.
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
- Your original passport
- Your spouse’s or civil partner’s original passport
- Evidence of your joint address in Ireland
- Registration fee of €300
At the appointment, your partner will have fingerprints and a photo taken. INIS 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
If a Stamp 4 is not issued (this can happen if there are any issues that need to be clarified such as identity, criminal history or relationship history), your spouse or civil partner may be asked to make a written application for residency (pdf) to INIS . Your spouse or civil partner is not entitled to work in Ireland until a Stamp 4 has been issued.
Crosscare Migrant Project has information about what your spouse or civil partner should do if they are not issued with a Stamp 4 at registration (pdf) .
Step 4: 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 INIS of any change of address within 7 days of moving. Also, if their family circumstances change (for example, if your relationship breaks down) they must inform INIS.
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.