The best part of living abroad is the realization that you can never get away from admin and paperwork. Some things change and some things stay the same, but no matter where you live, there will always be admin and paperwork! The bonus fun fact is that it is going to be slightly different wherever you plan on living. The paper work also seems to increase depending on if you are married/single; if you need a visa to live or work in a place and if you plan on one day seeking permanent residency in a particular foreign country.
Basically you can not avoid getting sucked into an admin paper trail, so I thought that I would outline some of the basic things you, as an expat in Ireland, should try get sorted within the first few weeks of your arrival. This list is a culmination of our experience and is purely based off our own experience and unique situation to moving to Ireland from South Africa. If you are looking to chat more about how you can move to Ireland, feel free to contact me, and if its technical info you need about your own situation, Citizen Information can also be a great resource.
Disclosure: this information is also based on the fact that you have legally arrived in Ireland and that you are legally allowed to enter the country and live/work here. If you want to read more about how we moved to Ireland, maybe start with this post and then come back here.
[bctt tweet=”Top 10 things you need to sort out as an expat moving to Ireland” username=”Thisisus_living”]
- First things first, you need to find a place to stay – I recommend trying to do this while you are actually in the country, although you can most certainly check the various rental sites online. I just found that good spots go quite quickly, so you want to be able to give them a call, or meet/view the place quickly. This post is a great resource for anyone looking for a pet friendly rental in Dublin. Key to getting a rental sorted, means that you can get a proof of address in Ireland. I had hoped that the rental agreement itself could be used as a form of proof of address – but the bank however would not accept this as proof of address. You will probably sign up for utilities like gas/electricity/TV/Wifi any ways, and these can be used as proof of address. If you are married, try set up these accounts where both of you have a name on these utilities (or one has TV and the other has electricity account). A proof of address is going to be a valuable piece of paper you will need to set up other things while you live here in Ireland.
- If you are a non-EU passport holder, when you went go through immigration at the airport, they will give you a card with information on setting up an appointment for your GNIB card. This is basically an immigration card that shows you are legally allowed to work/live in Ireland. It is essential you make this booking within 90 days of your arrival. Over certain times of the year, appointments book up months in advance – so the first day you arrive in the country, you should go online and set your GNIB appointment. Make sure you give yourself time to get this sorted. (Note: it will cost EUR300 for this card; so bring cash or card to pay for this at your appointment). Depending on if you plan on working or living in Ireland, you will need to bring with you all the necessary documentation – this should be outlined on their website.
- If you are like me, and plan on bringing over your phone from your home country to use here in Ireland, check that your phone is unlocked before you leave home. In South Africa, most phones are unlocked, but Americans that have come to Ireland often find out too late that their phone is locked, making it impossible to switch to an Irish sim card. I recommend going and getting your first sim card for your phone at carphone warehouse – they offer sales and specials for all service providers here in Ireland. You can get a pay as you go SIM, or a contract – depending on what you are looking for.
- When you first arrive in Ireland, you might be relying on public transport for a while, until you have a car. I strongly recommend that you sign up for a leap card – it costs EUR5 for the card and you can top up from your phone (Andriod only) or at the luas or train stations. Leap cards can be used on Dublin buses, Luas and the DART, you will also need a leap card to be able to register to use Dublin Bikes (it costs further EUR25 per year to be registered to Dublin Bikes). The rates for all these public transport services are cheaper if you use a leap card than if you pay cash – so it is well worth it!
- Before you arrive in Ireland, I hope you will look at if you need a work permit, and which one you can apply for. This really will help ease the stress if you know this before you arrive. If you are not sure, then read this post on finding a job and applying for a work permit in Ireland.
- Key to getting GNIB cards and work permits, is keeping track of when your passport expires. It might sound like an obvious one, but I recently got my work permit, and my permit is only valid till when my passport expires. I will need to get a new passport and then go back and update it with my work permit details thereafter, these costs all add up at the end of the day.
- If you are planning on working or earning a salary here in Ireland, then you will need to open up a bank account. This is a bit different to back home, you have to book an appointment at the local bank, and go in with your passport, and proof of address. I had to use a utility account as proof of address, because AIB would not accept my rental agreement.
- Once you have a bank account and a work permit, then you need to set up an appoint with social services to get a PPS number. You only need a PPS number if you are planning on claiming welfare, or if you are paying taxes (i.e working).
- After getting your PPS number, you need to go online and register your pps number with MyGov.ie to avoid paying maximum tax. You need to do this BEFORE you start getting your paycheck.
- If you plan on buying a car/ driving in Ireland. You are allowed to swop your South African drivers out for an Irish drivers license. All you need to do is fill some forms, go for an eye test, and then make an appointment. You will need to hand over your current, valid South African drivers license. It takes 3 weeks – 3 months to get your Irish drivers license back. The cost to get this sorted is EUR55.
So there you have it, the top 10 things you should get sorted as soon as you move over to Ireland as an expat.
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Agness of a Tuk Tuk says
This is an ultimate guide of Ireland which everyone planning to go there should read, Meg! Well done!
Thanks so much Agness! So happy to hear that it is helpful info 🙂
OMG I’m soo glad I stumbled across this blog….Ill be hitting you up with questions for sure – thank you so much work has gone into this!..
You are too kind! Thank you!
Hi, I am thinking of moving to Ireland, I live in Portugal.
I still dont have a job in Ireland, so i would probably look for one first when i arrive…
What is the first thing I need to take care of when I arrive there?
Hey Sonia, did you read this post? The first thing would be to find a place to stay. ?
Ralmar Marsh says
Hi there. Are you able to open up a bank account as a non-resident if you do not have a permanent address in Ireland at the time?
Are there any other documents you need? I’ve read some threads which say you need a PPS number as well.
Hey Ralmar, as far as I know, you do not need a pps number to open up a bank account. You will need proof of address, your passport and gnib card. You will need the address because they will post you bank card and pin to your specific address. Hope that helps!
Meg Vs TheMouth says
This is possibly the best list I have found so far and brings up a great many points other people have left off. Thank you.
Thanks Meg, happy if it helps!
Mary Lehane says
I would love to see a post on monthly budgets or monthly costs of living in Ireland. Example renters insurance, Tv license, Rubbish collection, things you wouldn’t necessarily think of in your budget planning.
Hey Mary, i do have this post which outlines a few of our costs – obviously it would be different for everyone, depending on where they live and lifestyle: https://thisisusliving.com/monthly-budget-dublin/