How to retire to Ireland

As travelling baby boomers we are lucky enough to be EU citizens because we were born in Ireland. We obtained our Irish passports and can travel freely in the EU area without visas. We have spoken to many people on our travels who would love to do the same so this post is all about how to move to Ireland and how to retire to Ireland.

the Guinness lodge is for sale if you want to buy a property and retire to Ireland

If you have EU born parents or grandparents you may be eligible for an EU passport which would allow you to move to Ireland relatively simply. 

Experience living in the EU by housesitting

Before you retire to Ireland – what you need to know

The island of Ireland is comprised of 2 parts, the North which is part of the U.K and Ireland which is an independent republic. If you want to move to Ireland you need to understand a little about the country itself and if you have Irish ancestry how you can move to Ireland.

If you were born anywhere on the island of Ireland you are entitled to Irish citizenship – even if you were born in Northern Ireland (UK). You can obtain your Irish passport and retire to Ireland through this citizenship even if you want to live in the south of Ireland.

If you have Irish born parents or grandparents you can apply for an Irish passport for citizenship via descent. You must have proof of that citizenship with either their birth certificates or registration with the Foreign Births Department. 

To become an Irish citizen, your great-grandparent’s grandchild (ie your parent) who is of Irish descent must have registered in the Foreign Births Register between the years 1956 and 1986, or if you were born after 1986 they registered before you were born.  

To become an Irish citizen, contact the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to check if your parent of Irish descent (ie your great-grandparent’s grandchild) registered in the Foreign Births Register:

  • Between 1956 to 1986, or
  • Before you were born, if you were born after 1986

If so, you can apply to register yourself.

If you are registered, you become an Irish citizen on the date of registration. You can then apply for an Irish passport.

Contact the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade if you have any questions about citizenship based on descent from your great-grandparents.  Currently, it can take up to 1 year to have your birth registered and become an Irish citizen. 

If you are thinking of retiring to Ireland or even just visiting a brilliant way to see the Island on a budget is to backpacking and visit all the interesting corners of the country. This Backpacking Ireland Travel Guide is all the information you will need to get the most out of the country on a budget. 

fancy living on the Wild Atlantic Way when you retire to ireland?

Residency Rights for those wanting to retire to Ireland

If you were born in Ireland, the UK or in the EEA (The European Economic Area (EEA, comprises the member states of the European Union, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) you have some claim on residency rights in Ireland.  For example, if you were born in Northern Ireland (officially the UK) you have automatic rights to live in or move to Ireland. UK citizens also have the right to move to Ireland without any conditions or restrictions.  If you were born in the North of Ireland or your parents were you have automatic rights to reside in Ireland. If you were born outside of Ireland but your parents were born in Ireland again you have the right to live in or move to Ireland.

retire to ireland on your irish passport

EEA and Swiss nationals can move to Ireland with their family members but there are some limits. EEA and Swiss nationals and their families can remain in Ireland for up to 3 months without restriction. If you are retired and plan to stay for more than 3 months, you must have sufficient resources and health insurance, or you must be employed or self-employed. If you are considering moving for a retirement check out these top self-employed jobs.

Visiting Ireland, all the magical places you can visit

Non-EEA nationals: citizens of certain non-EEA countries must apply for an entry visa before they travel to Ireland. You can find out if you need a visa to enter Ireland. When you have arrived in Ireland, if you are not an EEA or Swiss national, you must have permission to remain if you wish to stay for more than 3 months. So for example, if you are a Canadian or US citizen you can stay in the country for 3 months (90 days) without a Visa. You can also move to Ireland if you are Canadian or American but you will have to find employment that is needed in Ireland to do so.

an Irish visa for those moving to ireland

American, Canadian, Australian, New Zealanders and those from outside the EU who want to retire to Ireland

Getting a work permit to Move to Ireland

Non-EEA nationals can become employed in Ireland and apply to stay but certain conditions of employment must be met. There are certain employment areas that are required in Ireland and you can obtain a residency permit if these requirements can be met you can find more information here.  So for example, if you are an engineer, doctor, scientist and so on you can probably find work and obtain a residency permit.

Retiring and moving to Ireland

If you are retired and have a pension and the financial resources you can move to Ireland as a retiree. The financial threshold is around €50,000 per person per year, but you must also prove you have access to a lump sum of money to cover unforeseen expenses. This should be the equivalent to the price of purchasing a house in the U.S or around $250,000. In addition, you have to register with the local immigration officer following your arrival.

Retiring to Ireland: A complete guide to understanding the rules

You won’t be eligible, obviously for any benefits in Ireland and you will have to ensure you have private health care coverage, healthcare in Ireland is not free and the average Dr’s visit will be around €50 Euros. 

Keep in mind that rentals and property purchases in Dublin are expensive and are very similar to major N. American cities. Rural areas like Donegal and Tipperary, for example, are much cheaper and you will get way more for your money. Rentals are also cheaper in rural areas as well. As Canadians, we have found the cost of utilities, heat and food to be if not on par with N. America in some cases they are considerably cheaper than Canada.

If you are a student who wishes to study in Ireland you must prove you are enrolled in a recognized program and that you have sufficient funds to support yourself while you are in the country. This is around €7000 per year of study. You can work while you are a student but it must be in a “casual” labour type position of around 20 hours per week.

castle views in Ireland from Holycross in Tipperary

Claiming Irish Citizenship so you can retire to Ireland

The following information details how to claim Irish citizenship through birth or ancestors.

Born in Ireland

If you were born on the island of Ireland before 1 January 2005, you are entitled to be an Irish citizen.

Irish citizen parents

If you were born in Ireland after 1 January 2005 and your parent(s) were Irish citizens, then you are also an Irish citizen.

Foreign national parents

A child born in the island of Ireland on or after 1 January 2005 is entitled to Irish citizenship if they have a British parent or a parent who is entitled to live in Northern Ireland or the Irish State without restriction on their residency. A child born in Ireland to a parent who has been granted refugee status is also automatically entitled to Irish citizenship.

Retiring to Ireland: A complete guide to understanding the rules

Born outside Ireland

Irish citizen parents born in Ireland

If either of your parents was an Irish citizen who was born in Ireland, then you are automatically an Irish citizen, irrespective of your place of birth. If you are an Irish citizen, you can apply for an Irish passport. You do not need an Irish passport in order to be an Irish citizen but having an Irish passport is evidence that you are an Irish citizen.

Irish citizen parents born outside Ireland

If you were born outside Ireland to an Irish citizen who was born outside Ireland, then you are entitled to become an Irish citizen, gain your Irish passport and retire to Ireland very easily.

If your parent or parents have Irish citizenship in another way, for example, through marriage, adoption or naturalisation, and was an Irish citizen at the time of your birth, you can become an Irish citizen.

Claiming Irish citizenship: Before you can claim Irish citizenship, you must have your birth registered in the Foreign Births Register.* If you are entitled to register, your Irish citizenship is effective from the date of registration – not from the date when you were born.

Citizenship through descent from Irish grandparents

If one of your grandparents is an Irish citizen who was born in Ireland, but neither of your parents was born in Ireland, you may become an Irish citizen. You will need to have your birth registered in the Foreign Births Register.*

*Irish Foreign Births Registration

Retiring to Ireland: A complete guide to understanding the rules

The following table may help to explain the situation:

 If you are:Then you are:
ABorn in the island of Ireland on or before 31 December 2004Entitled to Irish citizenship or you are an Irish citizen
BBorn on the island of Ireland on or after 1 January 2005Entitled to Irish citizenship if one or both of your parents:

 ·         Is Irish

·         Is British or entitled to live in Northern Ireland or the Irish State without restriction on their residency

·         Is a foreign national legally resident in the island of Ireland for 3 out of 4 years immediately prior to your birth

·         Has been granted refugee status in Ireland

CChild of A, born outside the island of IrelandAn Irish citizen
DChild of C and a grandchild of A, born outside the island of IrelandEntitled to Irish citizenship, but you must first register in the Foreign Births Register
Ea child of D and a great-grandchild of A, born outside the island of IrelandEntitled to Irish citizenship, by having your birth registered in the Foreign Births Register, but only if your parent D had registered by the time of your birth.

If you have any questions about moving to Ireland, feel free to ask in the comments and I will try to find the right answers for you.

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Retiring to Ireland: A complete guide to understanding the rules
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