In most cases, you will need to find a job in Ireland first, and only after that will you be able to apply for a visa and come to Ireland.
Some IT companies that hire foreign nationals offer free relocation packages for staff and their families. Those packages may include compensation of all or some of the following:
- Courier services for your visa application.
- Economy class flight with baggage.
- Work permit application.
- Relocation costs.
- Accommodation, including temporary accommodation for about 4 weeks, home search, and assistance with the rental agreement.
In most cases, you need to agree to work for your sponsor company for at least two years. Otherwise, you will have to refund 75% of the relocation expenses if you have worked for them for 1.5 years or 50% if you have worked for them less time.
Here are the main steps to follow along the relocation process in Ireland.
1. Obtaining a work permit
Unless you’re an EEA (European Economic Area)* national or a Swiss citizen, you need to obtain an employment permit to be able to work in Ireland. And you should apply for an employment permit while residing outside Ireland.
*EEA countries include Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and the UK.
Before applying for an employment permit, you must get a job offer from a company registered in Ireland.
There are several types of employment permits in Ireland. Here are the ones that are issued to ICT specialists and their families:
- Critical Skills Employment Permit: a work permit for highly skilled people whose professions are in the Critical Skills Occupations List. In particular, this list includes ICT professionals such as IT directors and managers; IT business analysts, architects, and systems designers; software developers; web designers; and other IT specialists.
- Dependant/Partner/Spouse Employment Permit: a work permit for family members of the Critical Skills Employment Permit holders.
- Intra-Company Transfer Employment Permit: a work permit for senior management, key personnel or trainees who are foreign nationals transferring from an overseas branch of a multinational corporation to its Irish branch.
- General Employment Permit: a work permit allowing to be employed in Ireland for less than 2 years.
Irish companies most often sponsor foreign IT workers for the Critical Skills Employment Permit (CSEP). To obtain it, you must meet the main requirements:
- Your occupation should be in the Critical Skills Occupations List.
- Your annual salary offered by your Irish employer should not be lower than €32,000 per year (based on a 39-hour week, excluding bonuses).
- If your salary offer is €32,000 to €64,000 per year, you must have a relevant degree qualification or diploma.
- If your salary offer is over €64,000 per year, you must have a relevant degree qualification / diploma or the necessary level of experience.
- You must have secured at least a two-year job offer from your new Irish employer.
- At least 50% of the employees of your employer’s company in Ireland must be EEA nationals (unless it’s a start-up company within 2 years of their establishment supported by the enterprise development agencies).
Here is the list of documents and information you need to gather to get a CSEP:
- Passport valid for at least a further 6 months.
- Your personal information.
- Passport-type photo.
- Educational credentials (degree, a diploma) or proof of work experience (e. g. your CV).
- Completed application form with the following information: description of your employment, starting date, salary (annual remuneration, hourly and weekly rates, number of hours of work per week), and qualifications, skills or experience required for the employment.
- Employment contract signed by you and your employer.
- Employer details: registered number, address, type of company, nature of business, number of employees who are EEA nationals, contact person’s details.
- Statement showing the monthly return made by the employer within the 3 months before the application.
- Translations of documents into English, if applicable.
- Electronic copies of documents.
As ICT skills are identified as being in short supply in Ireland, you don’t need a Labour Market Needs Test. This test is needed in other cases to prove that there are no suitable candidates from the EEA to fill the vacancy.
You (or your employer on your behalf) need to apply for an employment permit at least 12 weeks before the proposed employment start date. The process of obtaining a CSEP is as following:
2. Pay the processing fee of €1,000 (it can be compensated by your employer). If your application is unsuccessful, 90% of the fee will be refunded.
3. If you need to provide additional information, you’ll be notified within 28 days.
4. If your application is approved, you get a Stamp 1 allowing you to work in Ireland for a specific employer in a specific location in the country for 2 years.
5. After that, you may need to apply for an entry visa in your local Irish embassy or consulate (see Section 2 for more details).
Obtaining an employment permit may take a long time during which the employer may lose interest in you, or you may change your mind and find another job in another country, or something else may happen. Therefore, only large companies with stable business and planning for years ahead can afford to sponsor an international worker.
Note that you can change your employer in Ireland only after working one year for the original employer specified on the employment permit. If you change the company, you need to apply for a new employment permit.
The Critical Skills Employment Permit is issued for 2 years and you are not required to renew it. Instead, you can apply to your local immigration officer for a Stamp 4 permission to live and work in Ireland without an employment permit (see Section 4 for more details).
Upon obtaining the employment permit, you can apply to the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service for family reunification. Your spouse or partner can apply for a Dependant/Partner/Spouse Employment Permit. This application is free of charge.
Before applying for an employment permit, your spouse needs to get a job offer in Ireland. The processing time for an employment permit is about 8–12 weeks. They are not allowed to work during that period. And not all employers are ready to wait this long. So unless your spouse or partner has exceptional skills and experience, it may be hard for them to secure a job in Ireland.
2. Applying for a visa
After you successfully applied for an employment permit, you may need to apply for a visa allowing you to enter Ireland.
You don’t need a visa to come to Ireland if you’re a citizen of the EEA or some other countries including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, Switzerland, and the US. You can check whether you need an Irish visa on the Department of Justice and Equiality’s website.
Note that the Republic of Ireland is not one of the Schengen states. So even if you have an Irish visa, you will need to obtain a Schengen visa to visit Schengen states and a separate visa to visit the United Kingdom (that also includes Northern Ireland).
To work in Ireland, you need to apply to your local Irish embassy or consulate for an employment visa 8 to 13 weeks before you plan to come to the country. Here is the list of documents and information you need:
- Application form.
- Two color passport-sized photographs not more than 6 months old.
- Your current passport (valid for at least 12 months after your proposed date of arrival in Ireland) and copies of all previous passports.
- Letter of application explaining your reason for coming to Ireland, terms of staying in the country, details on your family members who are coming with you, and the address of the place where you will stay in the country.
- Employment permit.
- Employment contract.
- Letter from your employer in Ireland confirming your salary and details of your job.
- Education credentials or proof of work experience (recent payslips, regular salary payments to your bank account, employment letter from your current employer, personal tax statements, professional certificates, training certificates, etc.).
- Proof of funds (bank statements over the last 6 months).
- Biometrics. Nigerian applicants must provide biometric data. Applicants residing in China, India, and Pakistan must provide fingerprints.
- Translations of documents into English (with confirmation from the translator that it’s an accurate translation of the original document as well as with the translator’s name and contact details).
Processing times can vary depending on the country of your citizenship. You can generally expect a decision within 8 weeks to 6 months from the date of your application.
Visa application processing fees are €60 for a single-journey visa (valid for one entry to Ireland up to a maximum of 90 days) or €100 for a multi-journey visa (valid for multiple entries to the country up to a maximum of 5 years).
Note that the first visa issued to you is valid for a single entry to Ireland. If you wish to leave the country for a short period of time you may need to apply for a re-entry visa. This even includes travel to Northern Ireland. However, you won’t need a re-entry visa when traveling to and from Ireland after obtaining an Irish Residence Permit (IRP).
3. Finding a place to live
After obtaining a work permit and a visa, you can come to Ireland. And the first thing you need to do is to start looking for a home.
As it may be hard to find a permanent apartment or house at once due to the high rental demand, allow 2 to 4 weeks to hunt for a home. Remember that summer as well as September are the worst periods to look for an apartment in Dublin as there is too much student demand.
Temporary accommodation can be offered by your employer for about 4 weeks. If not, you can find it on Airbnb or similar websites before you arrive in Ireland.
A permanent home can be found on one of the real estate websites:
To rent a house or apartment in Ireland, you will need the following documents:
- Passport or any Irish ID.
- Previous rental references.
- Work reference from your current employer.
- Evidence of your current employment and income.
- Personal Public Service (PPS) number (if you have one).
- Photocopies of all documents.
Due to a very high rental demand, it may be hard to find a rental apartment in Dublin, especially in a good neighborhood: there could be up to 30 (or so) potential tenants per one property. It’s recommended to carry all the above-mentioned documents around with you to every viewing so that you can immediately lodge your rental application and beat the competition. Remember that the first suitable person to apply for the property will be the one that gets it.
You will carry the following expenses while renting a house or an apartment in Ireland:
- Rental deposit: usually it’s equal to one month of rent, sometimes it’s two or three months of rent. This deposit is refundable at the end of the lease unless you damage the landlord’s property or have unpaid bills.
- First month’s rent.
- Furniture. Most long-term apartments in Ireland come unfurnished so you may have to buy furniture and other things for your home.
There’s no need to pay fees to a letting agent.
Note that there is no central heating in Irish houses (but there can be electrical radiators) and usually it’s the tenant who is responsible for paying utilities. Those normally include electricity, water (above a specified threshold — what is below is free of charge), waste removal, annual TV license, and parking (if you have a car). Monthly utility costs average at around €100–200.
4. Registration and residence permit
If you are granted a long stay D visa and wish to remain in Ireland for longer than 3 months, you’re required to register and obtain an Irish Residence Permit (IRP), formerly called a GNIB card. You need to apply as soon as you can after getting your employment permit and arriving in Ireland.
If you live in Dublin City or county, go to Burgh Quay Registration Office to register in person. Before your visit, you must book an appointment online up to 10 weeks in advance. If you live outside Dublin, you must go to a Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB)’s regional office.
You will need to bring with you the following documents:
- Passport or other documents establishing your nationality and identity.
- Employment permit.
During your visit to the immigration office, the immigration officer will put a stamp in your passport and issue you with a registration certificate (IRP) to show you have been registered.
There are several kinds of stamps numbered 0 to 6. The one you need is Stamp 4. It indicates that you can work in Ireland without needing an employment permit, establish and operate a business, get state benefits, and use public services.
Your spouse needs to get Stamp 1G. It allows partners or spouses of a Critical Skills Employment Permit holders to work in Ireland without the requirement to obtain a work permit.
Registration costs €300 per person.
Your residence permit is valid for two years and should be renewed at least one month before the expiry date. After 60 months (5 years) of living in Ireland with an Irish Residence Permit, you can apply for long-term residence.
5. Obtaining a PPS number
You need to register on the Mywelfware.ie website and obtain your Personal Public Service Number (PPSN). Without it, you won’t be able to register at the tax authority, get social benefits and public services, and you will pay a large emergency tax (meaning income tax and Universal Social Charge (USC) will be deducted from your pay at emergency tax rates). You also may not be able to open an account in an Irish bank without a PPSN.
To get a PPS number, you will need the following documents:
- Your passport.
- Proof of address. You will need to bring with you a paper copy of proof of your address in Ireland (e. g. a tenancy agreement, financial statements or utility bills no older than 3 months). The official website says that it can also be “confirmation of address by a third party such as a hotel or hostel administrator or manager, or property owner. If you are staying with friends or relatives, an original household bill plus a note from the bill holder confirming your residency at the bill address is acceptable. This note can be written on the bill itself.”
- Reason PPSN is needed. You will need to explain and show evidence of why you need a PPS number.
6. Buying a SIM card in Ireland
To live and work in Ireland, you may also need a local SIM card. You can buy it in one of the major retailers (such as Tesco), convenience stores, in airport kiosks or from one of the retail stores of mobile phone service providers.
Three major mobile service providers in Ireland are Vodafone, Eir, and Three. Some people say that Vodafone is the best of them and that Three has the worst quality of communication services and support.
Unlimited calls and texts are common on most plans. Unlimited data costs €35 (€25 for the first six months) for Vodafone plans, €20–30 for Eir plans, and €30, 40 or 60 for Three plans (depending on conditions).
7. Opening a bank account in Ireland
To get your salary in Ireland and pay for your rental home, you need to have a bank account in the country. Many other payments may also require an Irish bank account.
Here are the most popular banks in Ireland:
- Allied Irish Banks, AIB (aib.ie)
- Bank of Ireland (bankofireland.com)
- Citibank (citibank.com)
- Danske Bank (danskebank.ie)
- Depfa Bank (depfa.com)
- EBS (ebs.ie)
- KBC Bank (kbc.ie)
- Permanent TSB Group (permanenttsbgroup.ie)
- Ulster Bank (ulsterbank.ie)
- UniCredit Bank (unicreditbank.ie)
In most cases, you need to book an appointment in a bank and visit its office person to open an account.
To open a bank account in Ireland, you will need proof of identity (normally it’s your passport) and proof of address (e. g. Irish utility bills). The bank may also ask for your PPS number (see Section 5).
You may encounter issues with providing proof of address as you may not yet have a permanent address in Ireland by the time you open a bank account. And even if you have, the first utility bill ordinarily comes two months after signing an agreement with a utility company. And by the way, you will need a bank account to sign an agreement with a utility company.
Theoretically, the bank must accept a letter from your employer stating that you have recently arrived in Ireland and have started work. But not all financial institutions do that.
Other documents that can be used to prove your address include car or home insurance policy, a copy of your Tax Credit Certificate (TCC), a Statement of Liability from Revenue, and a social insurance document (that shows your address).
Try to gather as many additional support documents as you can and apply to several banks at one time — this way, you will have more chances to open an account.
Opening an account in Ireland can take quite some time — up to 1.5 months in some cases.
To transfer money from an international bank account to an Irish account, you can use FX transfer services such as CurrencyFair or TransferWise.
Most banks in Ireland take money for maintaining accounts and for other financial services. There can be a fixed fee that is paid once a month or once a quarter. There is almost no cashback (with a few exceptions). On the contrary, most banks take money for each transaction or cash withdrawal. Tariffs may vary depending on the financial institution.
You can avoid most of the bank fees: keep a balance of about €2,000 – 3,000 in your account all the time or put a similar amount each month.
Note that there is also a stamp duty on credit cards and debit cards. This stamp duty amounts to €30 per year for credit cards and is capped at €2.50 for ATM cards and €5 for combined (ATM and debit) cards.