Organise a visa
Australian citizens don’t need a visa to travel to Ireland, though you will be subject to immigration when you arrive. You’ll have 90 days from your arrival to register with a local Garda Registration Office to extend your stay. More details can be found here. This does mean it’s entirely possible to travel to Ireland without having secured a job, but you’ll have lot more hoops to jump through later on.
To be eligible for work in Ireland, you need to have a work visa. Although there are nine different types of work visas, you’ll most likely fall under either the General Employment Permit or the Critical Skills Employment Permit. To be eligible for a general permit, you must be earning a minimum of €30,000 pa – and you’ll be subject to a labour market needs test which basically assesses whether your job can be done by either an Irish citizen or somebody else within the EEA.
You’ll not be subject to this needs test if you’re on the Highly Skilled Occupations list. Or if you’re earning over €60,000 pa and have been granted a Critical Skills Employment Visa.
You can check out this list here.
For both types of visa, there is an application form that can be downloaded from the government’s website: www.citizensinformation.ie Your employer can fill this out on your behalf. You’ll need a passport photo and details of your employment history, qualifications and current address. You do need to have a job offer to apply, and it must be from the company direct – nothing through a temping agency or third party will be valid.
It’s important to mention that the fee for registering is a whopping €1,000 (AUD $1,485). While your employer cannot legal deduct recruitment expenses from you, they also don’t necessarily have to pay the application fee. Find out who the bill is going to – you or them – before you get a nasty surprise.
They are both valid for 2 years, with renewal conditions and length dependent on the visa you have.
TIP: When negotiating your contract and remuneration, make sure you find out who is liable for the cost of your work permit so that you don’t have a large unexpected financial surprise.
One other thing you’ll need to have as part of the visa process is a GNIB card (Garda International Immigration Bureau). Once you’ve got yourself sorted with somewhere to live, you’ll need to register with your local Garda headquarters. They basically check that you’re eligible to stay in the country, that you’re applying for the correct permits as an employee. You’ll be given a Certificate of Registration, which is known as a GNIB card. You’ll need this for setting up bank and utilities accounts. The registration fee is €300 (AUD $445.
TIP: You’ve only got 90 days from when you arrive in Ireland to register for a GNIB card. Do it as soon as you can to make sure you can open a bank account and arrange for household bills.
Have a valid passport
It goes without saying really, but just because you’re only a hop, skip, and a jump from Oz, it doesn’t mean you can turn up without valid documents. If you’re worried your passport is due to run out, don’t leave it until the last minute, head over to the Australian Government Passport Authority for all the details you’ll need about renewing – or applying for – a passport.
TIP: Have at least six months validity on your passport before you travel. You don’t want to have to leave quickly – or arrange for an emergency replacement – just as you’re getting settled.
It’s a fair old flight from Oz to the Emerald Isle, so we’d always recommend you’re sure you’re going to be living there long-term before putting your kitty or canine through a grueling flight.
Regulations are fairly straight-forward from Australia. Pets need to be microchipped, be vaccinated against rabies and have documentation to prove it. Dogs must also have been treated for worms – lovely – in the 4 days prior to travel. Get your vet to fill out the form Annex IV to Commission Implementing Decision 577/2013 and you’re good to go.
It’s worth noting that Ireland are part of the Pet Passport scheme. While this sounds seriously cute, it means that in order to bring your pet without quarantine, they’ll need to be shipped over in an approved crate and by an approved air or sea carrier, using an approved route.
TIP: Contact King & Wilson who can arrange all the pet paperwork and transportation for you.
North and South
Even if you don’t know the ins and outs of Irish history, you’re probably aware that Northern Ireland is part of the UK. This basically means if you want to go to Belfast or explore the north, you’re also going to need to get yourself a UK visa. They use GBP, so you’ll also need to exchange some currency. Apologies if this is stating the obvious – but you’d be surprised how many people forget this.
The Republic of Ireland is part of the EU, and so uses the Euro. The exchange rate does fluctuate of course, so keep check via a reliable currency converter www.hifx.com.au to get a feel for the actual cost of things, particularly early on while you are finding your feet. Once you start to earn local currency, the conversion back to AUD won’t be as relevant.
TIP: Download an exchange rate mobile app for the early days of your arrival so you know exactly how much things really cost.
Getting a bank account is fairly straightforward in Ireland, though you’re probably best making sure you have your visa sorted first, otherwise you’re likely to need reference letters and copy statements from your Australian bank.
You will need to have an Irish bank account to have your salary paid in to and for bills to come out of. While there are some international banks present in Ireland, they’re not that frequent and are only likely to be in Dublin.
The main three banks are:
They all offer a variety of services, from everyday accounts to savings, credit cards and mortgages if you’re thinking of buying a house in Ireland (link to section 3). It pays to shop around though, some banks have a monthly charge to run the account, some require you to deposit a minimum amount each month and others will charge you for accessing your money from an ATM or even using your debit card for purchases. While that might only be one or two cents, it’ll all add up, particularly in your first few months while you’re setting up home.
They’re inevitable I’m afraid. There are a number of taxes to be aware of in Ireland, though, surprisingly, they're not always straightforward. Take income tax for example. Most people will work under the PAYE (pay as you earn) system and taxes will be deducted directly from your pay. However, everybody has their own tax-free allowance depending on their age and circumstance. This will then affect the amount of tax you pay – as will the amount you earn. Thankfully, the government Irish Tax and Revenue website has a whole host of helpful information that might give you a better idea of what you’ll likely be paying.
In addition to tax on your wages and benefits, you’ll also have two more deductions from your pay packet: Universal Social Charge (USC) and Pay-Related Social Insurance (PRSI.
USC is an annual tax that is based on your gross income, including any benefits-in-kind you might receive, such as a company car. Depending on your pay, this tax could be a nominal 1% or could be nearly 10% if you’re a high earner.
PRSI contributes to social benefits, such as healthcare. The rate you pay is a percentage based on your earnings. In order you contribute to this (and receive state healthcare), you must register for a PPS (Personal Public Service) number. Again, the government website gives you information on how to do this.
TIP: Register for a PPS number as soon as possible to make use of social benefits such as healthcare.
If you’re contributing to the PRSI system through your pay, you’ll be eligible for state-funded healthcare, although not all of it is free. Lower-income families may be granted a Medical Card which is means tested but will give free access to GPs, dentists and most prescription drugs charges. Otherwise, you’re likely to be asked to contribute in some pay towards your medical care. Charges can be around €100, but there a number of exceptions, and if you’re referred to a hospital for an in/out patient appointment by a GP, you may be exempt entirely or pay a reduced fee. You’ll need to remember to bring your referral letter with you.
If you're not yet a resident visa holder, you legally need to have private health insurance. So make sure you have it. A large portion of expats – and Irish citizens – choose private healthcare. Partly due to waiting times: public healthcare is great, but you’ll have to wait for it; and partly due to knowing that for a monthly, or annual sum, there won't be any nasty surprises of the financial kind if you’ve had to visit hospital. You might be able to use your existing Australian policy, but check what their agreement is with Ireland first, as not all international policies are accepted and you may need to take out an Irish policy when you arrive.
TIP: Check with your employer to see if they offer private healthcare. Often employers recruiting outside of Ireland use it as a powerful incentive.
Just because you’re moving to Ireland, that doesn’t mean it must be Dublin. Sure, the capital city has got lots to offer in both the business and social scenes, but it’s not the only place. Plus, Dublin is expensive. And we mean expensive. What’s more, it can be a bit of a party place, flights from some UK airports are under an hour. While this might be great if you’re young, free and single (and can afford the housing prices) it might not be the best idea if you’re looking for a more leisurely pace.
Depending on the industry you work in, there may be less competition in other cities like Cork or Limerick. And as public transport is very good, you might think about commuting from one of the many smaller towns and villages dotted throughout the country.
TIP: If you haven’t already got a job lined up in Dublin, explore further away from the capital to see what’s on offer.
To rent or buy
Apartments are only really found in city centres, with most housing being semi-detached or detached homes. Further out in to the countryside, you’ll find sizes are larger and often have bigger plots of land associated with them.
Renting is easy and usually hassle-free, so it can be done without needing to use an agent. The benefit of an agent is that you’ve got one less thing to worry about while you’re trying to settle in and they’ll do all the running around for you.
Make sure you ask what’s included in the rent: some properties, particularly in the centre of Dublin, are fully-furnished. Others may include “white goods” such as a refrigerator and oven. If you are in a communal building, ask if there is a service fee for maintaining the public areas. And always ask who is responsible for the paying of utilities.
If you don’t want to be “throwing money away” on rent, and you can afford all the legal fees and costs, you might want to consider buying a home. House prices are quite reasonable in Ireland, and the process can be quite straightforward, though you still might want to invest in some legal help from an estate agent. You’ll definitely need a solicitor to deal with all the legalities, and as costs can vary, it’s worth shopping around. Have a look on the Law Society’s website www.lawsociety.ie for details of local solicitors.
TIP: You must get a survey of your potential new home – homeowners are under no legal obligation to tell prospective buyers about any defects with the property.
Wherever you decide to live, you’re going to need to heat and hot water. There’s a massively competitive market for gas and electricity suppliers. The main players include:
You’ll find most homes will already be connected to a supply, but all providers can give you information about how to get connected if not. Because of the competition, it’s normal for providers to offer great introductory offers – beware of a huge price hike when this period is up. Shop around and use a comparison site such as https://switcher.ie.
Believe it or not, in some older homes and in more rural areas, coal is still an important fuel and is widely used. The government have pledged to ban smoky coal by 2018, so you can only buy from approved sellers.
Peat is commonplace in rural areas, and you’ll find families in these areas have had their own peat bog for generations. Don’t be tempted to just go and have a go at digging your own – if they’re not privately owned, they’re often protected by law! Also common in very remote areas, gas comes in the form of canned gas in large canisters.
These more traditional types of fuel are often more expensive than more modern equivalent, and with coal especially, you’ll need to buy an entire winter’s supply in one go rather than as and when you need it.
Water supply has become a hot topic in Ireland: until 2015, domestic water consumption was free of charge. This changed with the creation of a new national supplier, Irish Water, in 2015, seeing water meters being installed in homes. However, widespread public outcry and indecisive national elections have led to a current suspension of charges whilst a new consultation on water supply is conducted. New water charges are currently suspended until March 2017. It is currently unclear whether these will be reintroduced or not.
Outside of the national water supply, some remote, rural communities operate Group Water Schemes – this will be in areas where the local authority does not intend to supply a water system. You have to pay for your water under these schemes, although local authorities do provide a subsidy. The National Federation of Group Water Schemes will help you find out more: www.nfgws.ie.
TIP: As the provision of free water is under review, make sure you keep up to date with any changes through government websites and news channels.
Internet and phone
Broadband is well-established across Ireland, but more remote areas can suffer from slow, or occasionally, no service. And as Ireland is quite rural, the use of satellite broadband is common: the reception is received through a satellite dish rather than cables so there are no limits on coverage.
The big, well-established names include:
For satellite broadband, check out:
Again, use a comparison website, such as www.switcher.ie, to find the deal that is best for you.
There are more mobile phones than people in Ireland and, as with internet, the mobile network is highly competitive.
Most major networks have close to 100% coverage, although you may want to check reception if you’re in more remote areas. The big 3 are:
Pay-as-you-go might be best initially, and for short-term visitors. However, if you’re likely to be living in Ireland for at least the initial two-year visa term, you might want to think about a contract. You’ll need a bank account, proof of identity, and proof of address to open a phone account.
TIP: Ireland is one of the highest users of mobile internet, so if you’re going to be joining in, make sure your mobile contract offers a good level of data as part of the package..
As well as range of domestic channels, viewers in the Republic of Ireland also benefit from the availability of channels broadcasting from Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.
Saorview is the national digital television service, which will be built in to the majority of new televisions – if not, you will need a Saorview box which you can connect to your TV arial. The country’s free-to-air channels are received through Saorview, and you may also connect this to a satellite dish to receive over 100 channels from the UK. Check out: www.saorview.ie
Cable and satellite services are also available, from major providers including Sky and Virgin Media. These give access to premium channels such as movies and sports.
An important point to remember is that any address where there is a TV set requires a TV licence. This is currently €160 per year, and is collected by An Post – the national postal service. You can buy and renew at any post office, through a call centre, or online.
TIP: As soon as you’ve moved in to your new home, before you even unpack the TV, make sure you’ve got a TV license from the Post Office to make sure you don’t get a hefty fine. Or worse.
Public transport in Ireland is very good. Main hubs like Dublin, Cork, Galway and Limerick all have suburban rail networks and a number of bus routes. Commuting for work is quick and efficient, and usually cheaper and less stressful than driving.
If you’re in the capital, make sure you get a Leap Card. This prepaid card can be used across most public transport systems in the city. You’ll not have to mess around with cash each time you want to take a train, tram or bus; and you’ll save around 20% on your ticket.
The card can be bought online, or over the counter at hundreds of outlets. The Leap Card can also be used on selected bus services in Cork, Limerick, Galway and Waterford. See the website for details www.about.leapcard.ie.
You might find that in the most rural areas they don’t have the same level of transport options or frequency of service that cities have. However, Ireland is a fairly small country geographically and so travel times are pretty quick – more so by train than car or bus.
Train tickets are usually cheaper if you book them online – especially in advance – with savings up to 40%.
The bus network is more extensive than the train network, and definitely a cheaper option. Inter-city routes are frequent, but may be limited in more remote areas – as little as one journey per day.
TIP: Invest in a Leap Card. Even if you’re not regularly in Dublin, they can be used on some services across the country.
Getting a driving licence
Providing your Australian driving licence is current and valid, you can use it to drive it in Ireland for up to a year. After this, you’ll need to exchange your licence. To do this, you’ll have to apply in person to a National Driving Licence Service Centre and take photo ID, proof of residency, your PPS number, and proof of address. The fee for exchanging your licence is currently €55.
Oh and you must apply to exchange your licence within one year of it expiring. If you miss this cut off, you’ll for a new Irish licence, which means starting from scratch: yes, you’ll have to take your theory and practical driving tests again.
Tip: Make sure you exchange your driving license within a year of your arrival to avoid having to apply for a whole new license and sit your tests again.
Public schools in Ireland are very good, and in fact most of the country is made up of public schools. Kids legally have to be in school between the age of 6 and 16. They’ll often start around the age of 4 though, and many schools have a reduced day for these first couple of years.
Schools follow a local curriculum and classes are taught in English with Gaelic classes being offered. The school year is September – June with regular breaks ranging from a week to the longer summer break. Admission policies vary, though precedence is always given to children living in the local area. As public schools can fill up quickly, if you’ve got an idea of where you’re likely to be living, have a look at local schools and see if you can put the kids’ names down on a waiting/reserve list for when you arrive.
After primary, schools tend to get more exam focused, and often when kids first arrive in Secondary School they’ll be assessed based on their academic ability and put in to classes with those of similar ability.
Unless you’re in a really remote area where there is feasibly only one school to get to, think about what facilities are offered: does the school have a good selection of technology like PCs, or have they got a range of after-school activities or a breakfast club where you can leave them before/after work. Also, you’ll need to think about the qualifications offered at the end of their schooling. There are a number of routes students can go down, if you have a look at www.citizensinformation.ie you’ll be able to explore the various options.
Private schools are mainly found in and around Dublin. As they’re privately funded, they operate outside the realm of the state, meaning they can control the curriculum for students. They often have a heavy religious or Gaelic focus. If this is something you want to consider, expect to pay around €5,000 per year in fees.
Tip: Public schools are often oversubscribed. If you know the area you’re moving to, start looking at schools and ask about waiting – or reserve – lists for when you arrive.
If you’re working and you’ve got toddlers, they’re going to need to be looked after. There are a range of formal and information options, depending on whether you want an education focus or not. Day care and nurseries will often have some form of educational focus, such as the Montessori teaching method. These can either be full/half day sessions depending on your working pattern.
For a more informal, less educational route, childminders are a popular option. Childminders usually work from their own home, and can have up to five children under the age of six in their care. This service can often be more flexible than other routes and you can often negotiate hours with your childminder. It’s also a great way to socially engage your child with others in the neighbourhood.
Whichever childcare route you opt for, prices will vary depending on the number of hours you’re looking to have your little ones there. Have a look around and don’t be afraid to ask if you can drop in for visits to meet staff before you decide.
You’re not going to be able to work at all without having your paperwork in order. Whether you’re hoping to land a job before you arrive or are wanting to scope out the market when you’re here, use this time to polish your CV. Highlight any skills or positions that are in short supply in Ireland. As Ireland is part of the EU, the priority is to give employment to EU citizens. This means you’ve really got to be able to offer something special to be offered a job.
If you’re recruited from Australia, you may find you’ll be offered a generous relocation package, but these are not as commonplace as they used to be. Plus, if you’re already in Ireland, there’s not the same incentive from potential employers to try and lure you to the Emerald Isle.
Most expats arrive with a job, if only because it’s the easiest way to get other essentials like a house, utilities, and in some cases, a bank account.
Websites such as www.jobs.ie www.recruitireland.com and www.indeed.com are just a few places to start. There are a number of recruitment agencies and head-hunters who can help you land your ideal role. Just keep in mind the visa restrictions: you’re fine to use an agency to find you a job, but they must not be your employer. In order to be eligible for a work permit, you must be directly employed by a company, not a third party.
Tip: Ensure your CV boasts about the skills and experience you have that nobody else does in order to overcome the fierce EU employment rules.
Book your flight
The earlier you can book your international flight the better price-wise. If you can travel outside the school holiday peak season, you’ll save money too. This usually means travelling around February to March, May to June, late July to mid-September, or mid-October to mid-December. The sooner that you can lock down your moving date the better so you can plan ahead and save. Check out this Australian Government education resource for school holiday dates.
Cull the clutter
Packing up your life and starting a new one is a good chance to cleanse. Don’t stick everything you own into boxes and transport the lot to your new home. Take the time to cull! There are a few good reasons for this.
You may have been hanging on to old heirlooms from a previous life that don’t need to make the journey across the Tasman. If the planned move is unlikely to be forever, then look into storing a few old boxes with a friend or relative or utilising King & Wilson’s long term storage services. You can revisit your old university text books again one day when you resettle back home. Or if the move to Ireland might be indefinite, ask yourself whether you need eight boxes of old cassette tapes from the early '90s before you realised that CDs weren’t a passing fad…and while you’re there, how about that CD collection?
For more on minimalist packing check out this interesting perspective from Forbes.com.
Tip: Cull unnecessary belongings and possessions before packing boxes.
10 Weeks Before Moving Day
Give yourself plenty of time to plan the logistics of packing. A good international removalist, like King & Wilson will be your best friend in this regard -- they won’t want you leaving this to the last minute either. A few things to think about 2-3 months out from the big day:
- Put together a folder or box for all documents and receipts relevant to the move.
- Start a conversation with an international shipping company such as King & Wilson to get an estimate.
- Create a floor plan for your new home to get a sense of how many of your large sized furniture or appliances you may need to get rid of.
- Given it will be arriving by sea, it can take 10-12 weeks for your boxed up life to arrive in Ireland, so you need to think about a separate, smaller load that will carry you through these first couple of months. Clothing, sheets, towels and key crockery and kitchen utensils for example. Some of this will be baggage that makes it with you on the plane. You may consider pre-arranging this excess baggage as it is much cheaper to book in advance than turning up on departure day with more than your baggage allowance. King & Wilson offer a smaller air shipment service to cover off this need as well.
- Are you planning on shipping over a car or motorbike? Or do you have artwork that might need particular attention? Shifting these items require special consideration and all can be taken care of with the right shipping partners.
Tip: Start a conversation with international movers now rather than later
6 Weeks Before Moving Day
Now you are edging closer to the big move, you want to start ticking off what will and won’t make it on the journey. For example:
- Take an inventory list of all items around your home that will need to come with you.
- Start selling off large or redundant items via Gumtree or ebay that you don’t want to take with you.
- Hold a garage sale or take advantage of any local market stalls or jumble sales
- Start the process of selling your vehicle on Carsales or a similar online classifieds service
4 Weeks Before Moving Day
With less than a month to the move, you need to start getting your hands dirty and actually packing a few things away, particularly items you are not using day to day:
- Collect moving boxes and packing supplies. Or if you move your home with King & Wilson, simply use the international shipping cartons provided.
- Start by packing things you don't use much currently like extra dining or kitchen utensils and seasonal clothing. Visit this resource from Energy Australia on the right way to pack when moving house or this interesting blog post on the subject by Frugal Mama.
- Donate the things you don't need (or that you haven’t been able to sell off).
- Think about consuming your pantry stocks and frozen goods as well as home cleaning products, shampoos and soaps.
Tip: Start by packing the things you do not use day to day
1-2 Weeks Before Moving Day
Eek! You are merely days away from the move now and need to be thinking about leaving behind a clean, empty home for a new inhabitant. You also need to think about tying up loose ends at home, the flight and what you need for your first days in the UK:
- Confirm all your travel arrangements.
- Finish packing your essentials.
- Clean and defrost your refrigerator 24 hours before you move, turn off all the pipes and make sure you didn't leave any appliances on.
- Cancel the newspaper subscription, contact Australia Post to redirect your mail to your new address in Ireland, disconnect your utilities like the electricity, gas and internet.
- Say your goodbyes, provide your new contact details and travel itinerary to your family and friends.
Tip: Don’t forget to redirect the mail to your Irish address.
On Moving Day
You’ve made it to the big day. The job now is mainly to get out of the way of the professionals and focus on your breathing:
- Let the professionals do their thing. A good removalist will take care of packing your belongings carefully and thoroughly.
- A good international shipping mover will also cover off all the necessary shipping documentation to facilitate prompt customs clearance once it arrives in Ireland.
- Get to the airport, put on those noise cancelling headphones and relax for 24 hours or so in anticipation of your new adventure! Life in Ireland is full of adventure, alcohol and just a little bit of rain. We’re not even going to try to cover off what you can do for kicks once you arrive in town, and trust you’re going to have a lot more fun finding out for yourself. Good luck!