Returning to Ireland and COVID-19

Introduction

This document has information on returning to Ireland during COVID-19. It includes up-to-date information on travel advice, public health guidelines, employment rights and social welfare entitlements for Irish people returning to Ireland from abroad.

You should only travel to Ireland if you have an essential reason for doing so.

Before travelling, you should read about the public health measures that are in place in Ireland.

Travel to Ireland

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is advising against all non-essential travel overseas.

If you are travelling to Ireland you should read the latest travel restrictions.

You must complete an online Passenger Locator Form with information about where you are staying in Ireland.

All passengers arriving into Ireland must have a negative or ‘not detected’ COVID test (PCR test) taken no more than 72 hours before your arrival.

You may have to quarantine upon arrival.

What to do if you are abroad

If you are due to travel, contact your airline for updates. You can visit dfa.ie for up-to-date travel advice.

DFA advise Irish citizens abroad to follow local public health advice and stay in regular contact with their family and friends. You can contact your local Irish embassy or consulate and register your contact details with the Department. If you need help, there are consular and diplomatic supports available from the DFA.

DFA’s Consular Assistance Unit in Dublin can also be contacted by calling +353 1 408 2527 during office hours, or +353 1 4082000 for out-of-hours emergencies. Follow DFA on Twitter and Facebook for regular updates or follow the Twitter account of your nearest Irish embassy or consulate for local updates.

A number of Irish organisations abroad support Irish emigrants. Many are continuing to operate by phone and email even if their public offices are closed.

Getting around

Every county in Ireland is at Level 5 until 5 April 2021.

You should not travel more than 5km from your home unless you have to travel for essential work, educational or other essential purposes, such as providing care.

Read more about domestic travel restrictions.

Onward travel on arrival in Ireland

You can travel from the airport or port to where you will quarantine. Avoid public transport if possible.

When you arrive, you must quarantine for 14 days.

Public transport

In Level 5 restrictions, public transport services are running at a reduced capacity. If you are over 70, or extremely medically vulnerable, you are advised to avoid public transport.

If you have to use public transport, you must wear a face covering. Read about using public transport during COVID-19.

Driving

Read about Driving and Transport during COVID-19.

If you have a valid full foreign driving licence, you can drive on this for up to 12 months while visiting Ireland. If you plan to stay in Ireland for longer than 12 months, you should apply to convert your foreign driving licence for an Irish licence if you are eligible, or go through the driving test process to get an Irish driving licence.

Importing a vehicle

All vehicles brought into Ireland are subject to Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT) and must be registered. For more information on importing a vehicle to Ireland, including details of VRT exemptions, read about Importing a vehicle into Ireland.

Health information

The HSE provides health information on COVID-19, including:

  • The symptoms and causes of COVID-19
  • When to call a doctor
  • How to protect yourself and others
  • Groups at increased risk from COVID-19 and what they should do
  • Pregnancy and coronavirus

If you develop symptoms on your return to Ireland, you need to self-isolate and phone any local GP. Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. The GP will assess you over the phone. If they think you need to be tested for coronavirus, they will arrange a test.

The HSE also provides information on minding your mental health during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Income supports

Depending on your circumstances, you may need financial assistance when you return to Ireland. The Department of Social Protection (DSP) has a range of social welfare payments that you may be eligible for.

The quickest way to apply for these is online through MyWelfare. To do this you will need to create a MyGovID account. You will also need a Personal Public Service (PPS) number.

PPS numbers

You must have a Personal Public Service (PPS) number to apply for a social welfare payment. If you have worked in Ireland before you may already have a PPS number. You can get your PPS number from DSP’s Client Identity Services:

If you, your partner or your children do not have a PPS number, you can apply for one by email as part of new special measures during the COVID-19 outbreak. You must download and fill out the REG1 form and send it to with a scanned image or photograph of your identity document (passport, driving licence, ID card) and proof of address (utility bill, letter from landlord to PPSN@welfare.ie.

Applying for social welfare

The Returning to Ireland section of our website gives information on how to access social welfare as a returning Irish emigrant.

If you are applying for a social assistance payment, you need to show that Ireland is currently your main place of residence. This is called the Habitual Residence Condition (HRC). You do not have to have been living in Ireland for a certain period of time to be considered habitually resident. You can read more about returning Irish emigrants and the HRC. Crosscare Migrant Project’s website also has useful FAQs on the HRC and you can also contact them for support if you are having difficulty with your application

People who have lost employment outside Ireland are not eligible for the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment upon returning to Ireland because the payment is only for people who have lost employment in Ireland. They may access other social welfare payments such as Jobseeker’s Allowance and Basic Supplementary Allowance. Anyone in crisis, or without any income can apply for an Exceptional Needs Payment.

Housing

It is important to try to have somewhere to stay on arrival. Our website has more information on housing for returning emigrants.

You can also read more information on Renting and COVID-19.

Any Irish emigrants returning to Ireland who are homeless, at risk of homelessness or in any other crisis situation should contact the local council in the area they are returning to. The following support organisations may also be able to give you more information and advice by phone or email:

Page edited: 23 February 2021