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.

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

EU Digital COVID Certificate (DCC)

If you are travelling within the EEA, you should carry the EU Digital COVID Certificate (DCC).

A DCC will show if you are:

  • Vaccinated against COVID-19
  • Recovered from COVID-19 in the past 6 months, or
  • Have a negative RT-PCR test result taken no more than 72 hours before arrival

You can read more in the European Commission’s EU Digital COVID Certificate (DCC) certificate factsheet and Questions and Answers about the EU Digital COVID Certificate (DCC).

Travel to Ireland

There are certain things you need to do before and after you arrive in Ireland (for example, you must fill in a passenger locator form before you arrive). You can find out what you need to do in our document on travelling to Ireland during COVID-19.

What to do if you are abroad

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

Under current restrictions, you can travel to any county in Ireland.

Public transport

Public transport services are running at a reduced capacity, only use public transport for essential journeys.

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

Driving

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: 19 July 2021