Retiring to Ireland: A complete guide to understanding the rules

Retire to Ireland: A complete guide to understanding the rules

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.

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. 

Kylemore Abbey, beautiful castle like abbey reflected in lake at the foot of a mountain. Benedictine monastery founded in 1920, in Connemara, Ireland

Experience living in the EU by housesitting

If you were born on the island of Ireland – Northern or Republic

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 Republic of Ireland.

Retire to Ireland – citizenship by descent

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. 

Retire to Ireland from USA – via descent through great-grandparents

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. 

To become an Irish citizen, your great-grandparent’s grandchild (ie your parent) who is of Irish descent must have been 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) is registered in the Foreign Births Register.

If they are registered, you can apply to register yourself. When or if you are registered, you become an Irish citizen on the date of registration. You can then apply for an Irish passport.

DUBLIN, IRELAND - SEPTEMBER 7, 2014: Nightlife at popular historical part of the city - Temple Bar quarter. The area is the location of many bars, pubs and restaurants

If you are thinking of retiring to Ireland or even just visiting a brilliant way to see the Island on a budget is to backpack 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. 

Residency Rights for those wanting to retire to Ireland

Can I retire to Ireland from UK?

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.

If you were born in Ireland, the UK or in the EEA (The European Economic Area) which 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.

What does the EEA refer to? The European Economic Area, abbreviated as EEA, consists of the Member States of the European Union (EU) and three countries of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway; excluding Switzerland).

Ladies View is a scenic panorama on the Ring of Kerry about 19 kilometers from Killarney along the N71 towards Kenmare, in Killarney National Park in Ireland.

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 retirement check out these top self-employed jobs.

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 you can find out at the Citizen’s Advice Bureau. 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.

an Irish visa for those moving to ireland

Retiring to Ireland for those outside the EU

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 from the USA or Canada

Ireland retirement visa requirements

How to get a retirement visa Ireland? if you are retired and have a pension and 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 of 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.

Mullaghmore, Ireland-Jul 31, 2020:  Classiebawn Castle in Mullaghmore county Sligo Ireland

You won’t be eligible, obviously for any benefits in Ireland and you will have to ensure you have private healthcare coverage, healthcare in Ireland is not free and the average doctor’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 in 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

How to get an Irish passport and claim Irish Citizenship

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 on 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.

Knowth Neolithic Passage Mound Tombs in Boyne Valley, Ireland

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.

Aerial view of Kinnagoe bay in County Donegal, Ireland.

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 or British or entitled to live in Northern Ireland or the Irish State without restriction on their residency – or is a foreign national legally resident in the island of Ireland for 3 out of 4 years immediately prior to your birth – or as 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 live abroad but are an Irish citizen retiring to Ireland you can return at any time. You may have to arrange for any pensionable benefits to be transferred from where you worked to Ireland and of course obtain all the necessary social security documents.

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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