Returning to Ireland

The decision to return to Ireland can be a difficult one to make and there are a lot of important issues to consider. Just like emigrating, it is important to do your research and plan accordingly. There are fantastic online resources to help you with the process. You can also book an appointment with our Outreach worker or contact Dublin based Crosscare Migrant Project for information and support. The Irish Support Agency also holds regular Returning to Ireland information workshops. To be notified of our next session please contact us to have your name added to the mailing list.

Returning with non-EEA partners

There is no automatic entitlement under Irish Law for an Irish citizen to have their non EEA spouse, civil partner or de facto partner to join them in Ireland. However applications for residency based on marriage / civil partnership or de facto relationship with an Irish citizen can be granted provided certain conditions are fulfilled.

Residency for non-EEA spouse/civil partners of Irish Citizens

Enter Ireland and inform the Immigration Officer of your intentions to apply for residency. From there you need to make an appointment online to register with Garda National Immigration Bureau.

Have proof in the form of a Marriage/civil partnership certificate, passports and evidence of joint address.

At this time, stamp 4 immigration permission may be issued giving the right to live and work in Ireland without the need for an employment permit. This is valid for 1-5 years.

If they require clarification of issues, you may need to make a written application to the ‘Spouse of an Irish National’ Unit of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) who will request a relationship history, past immigration to Ireland, finances and your future plans. If so, you may be issued with temporary stamp (no work rights) until residency permission is granted.

Guideline processing time
 12 months

Further Information
Crosscare Migrant Project's Factsheet: Residence information for spouses & civil partners of Irish citizens


Residency for non-EEA de facto partners of Irish Citizens

Enter Ireland and both partners present to non-EU passport control desk and inform an immigration officer of your intention to apply for residency based on de facto partnership.

Have proof of full account relationship history, proof of finances, and evidence of having lived together for the previous two years

Then you must make a written application to the INIS. There is no application form and should be presented in the form of a letter. See Cross care’s ‘Residency information for de facto partners of Irish citizens’ for recommendations on what to include.

Must be able to support yourselves and dependents without help from any social welfare assistance.

If successful you will be issued with granting letter and must register your permission with GNIB – usually Stamp 4 issued

Pay attention to conditions of residency and renewal times (usually one year)

Guideline processing time
 6 months (no work rights while waiting)

Further Information
Crosscare Migrant Project's Factsheet: Residence information for de facto partners of Irish citizens


Social Welfare

Returning Irish migrants should be eligible for most social welfare payments, including job-seekers allowance, the state pension, carer’s allowance or child benefit.

You must satisfy the Habitual Residence Condition and prove you are back in Ireland to live permanently. Before you make the move back you should collect evidence that you have ended your previous life abroad

  1. left your job in Australia

  2. that your tenancy has finished,

  3. that you have closed your bank account

Present a cover letter detailing your life in Ireland before you moved, the reason you left and reason for return along with supporting evidence that you’ve set up here once again (a lease, details of your kids’ school, an Irish bank account, a library card, proof of registering to vote etc.)

How to apply

If you wish to apply for a particular social welfare payment, you should contact your social welfare local office for an application form and an information leaflet. You can also access forms online. The address and phone number of your social welfare local office is also available here.


Public Health Care

The public health system is open to all who are “ordinarily resident” in Ireland.

Below is a snap shot of approximate costs, subject to change.

  • €100 to attend the A&E unit of your local hospital

  • €75 nightly fee treatment in a public hospital

  • GP fees start around €50

  • Free maternity services (during pregnancy and up to 6 weeks after birth)

Entitlement is primarily based on residency and means, rather than on your payment of tax or pay-related social insurance (PRSI). Any person, regardless of nationality, who is accepted by the Health Service Executive (HSE) as being ordinarily resident in Ireland has eligibility to health services.

Medical / GP visit cards may be available if on a low income and GP visit cards available to all children under the age of six.



Free State education is available at primary and secondary level with the option to use private school for an appropriate fee.

Education is compulsory for ages 6 – 16 or until students have completed 3 years of second-level education.

Irish language classes are compulsory at secondary level with the exemption for children who were educated outside Ireland up to 11 years of age.

The school year generally starts September and ends June. Your child may be able to enter during school year but note that waiting lists can be long.

To access student grants / free fees at third level, the student must have lived in Ireland for three of the last five years.


Online Resources

Coming Home - Department of Foreign Affairs

Crosscare Migrant Project

Citizens Information