Expats FAQ in Ireland


Q: Is it better to open an Irish bank account before or after arriving in Ireland?

A: Opening an Irish bank account in person is better than doing it from abroad. Opening a regular resident account requires the person to provide more than one form of identification as well as proof of an Irish address. When opening a non-resident account, a person needs to provide a reference and a transaction history from his bank in his home country.

Q: How long does it take to activate a new Irish bank account?

A: Bank accounts opened in Ireland usually take many weeks to activate. Hence, expats are advised to move with enough funds to sustain them within their first few weeks after relocation.

Q: Are there ATMs in Ireland's rural areas?

A: ATMs are available in some rural areas but not as widely as widely in the key cities of Cork, Galway, and of course, the capital, Dublin.


Q: How is the Irish business community when it comes to time?

A: Time in Ireland is generally a relaxed subject, and that applies even to the business communities. In this country, a one-day-late delivery is not a big issue. That goes for both the buyer and the seller. Foreigners, however, may have to avoid being late as a way to impress an Irish associate.

Q: Which Irish government branch assists foreigners in opening a business in Ireland?

A: The IDA or Industrial Development Authority is the branch of government that offers assistance to foreigners who want to set up a business in the country. Generally, the IDA may offer entrepreneurs financial assistance, including capital and even employment privileges.

Q: How much is trading income tax in Ireland?

A: Trading income in Ireland is taxed at low rate of 12.5%, and this applies to all income generated from all business activities. This also applies to foreign businesses which may have not otherwise qualified for a low tax rate.


Q: Are kids in Ireland allowed to travel unaccompanied by an adult?

A: No. Kids in Ireland cannot make travel reservations (including flights) until they're 18, and they cannot travel alone (without the company of an adult) until they are at least 16.

Q: Are there banks in Ireland that allow children to open an account with them?

A: Yes. Many banks in Ireland offer banking services to kids. These accounts are usually standard savings or deposit accounts, but have a minimal initial deposit requirement and no interest or charges. Kids in secondary school can also get no-fee/charge ATM cards, but there is a maintaining balance required and a maximum amount that may be withdrawn.

Q: What are some of the best must-gos for expat kids in Ireland?

A: There are so many in Ireland, but four of the most popular are Tara’s Palace-Doll House (Dublin), which recreates three extremely luxurious 18th century manor houses, including an extensive collection of antique dolls and doll houses, the Frey Model Railway, which is the country's biggest and best model railway, the Dublin Zoo, which provides multifaceted educational programs that aren't limited to animals, and the Galway Arts Festival which features artists, musicians, writers, and performers from around the globe.

Cost of living

Q: Are groceries expensive in Ireland?

A: Generally speaking, the cost of groceries in Ireland has a lot to do with where they are purchased. For example, Aldi and Lidl are two huge discount supermarkets which are most preferred by those who buy in bulk. A smaller and more expensive supermarket chain is called Superquinn. Centra and Spar are two other smaller and pricier grocery stores, but they are open for much longer into the night.

Q: How much do families spend on entertainment/recreation in Ireland?

A: It depends on the kind of entertainment or recreational activity. Dinner at a Dublin restaurant can be particularly expensive. At a pub, a glass of wine or beer can set one back around 5 euro. A movie is anywhere between 7 and 12 euro, and a nightclub entrance fee is usually around 7 to 15 euro.

Q: How much do expats pay for a shared apartment in Ireland?

A: Expats have a lot to thank for now that Ireland's property bubble has popped. The price of accommodation has decreased significantly, and a shared house in the capital city, Dublin, could now be as cheap as 400 euro monthly, while a furnished apartment could start at around 1,000 euro. Rent is often paid in advance, and a deposit equivalent to a month's rent is required before occupancy.


Q: Is public healthcare free in Ireland?

A: Public healthcare is generally free for all people living in Ireland, including expats. However, there are some treatments that require a subsidized fee from patients without a Medical Card. The rate depends on various factors, such as the individual’s income, illness/disability, and age.

Q: What is the Irish health emergency hotline?

A: People in Ireland can call the national hotlines, 999 and 112, for health emergencies. Note that some patients may have to pay for ambulance services, depending on particular circumstances. Also, EU citizens who have EU health cards can get free or discounted emergency services from public hospitals and medical facilities.

Q: Which pharmacies in Ireland are open 24 hours a day?

A: There are no 24-hour pharmacies anywhere in Ireland, not even the big national chains. Pharmacies are usually open from 9am to 6-8pm Mondays thru Saturdays, and 9am to 10pm during the weekend. When medicines are needed outside these operating hours, it is best to go to the nearest hospital's emergency department.


Q: What kind of housing do most expats prefer in Ireland?

A: Expats usually prefer apartments or semi-detached houses if they are living in a key city such as the capital, Dublin, and Cork. In outlying areas, detached houses are more common. Younger expats, especially students, are usually on house shares, a set up in which they share a living area with other tenants but have their individual bedrooms.

Q: How protected are tenant rights in Ireland?

A: Highly. In fact, the law obliges all landlords to provide each tenant a rent book, which is basically a document where details of the tenancy, including all rent payments, are recorded.

Q: How often is rent paid in Ireland and how long is a typical lease agreement?

A: Landlords in Ireland collect rents monthly and leases typically cover a period of one year, although a tenant may request for a shorter contract.


Q: The Irish pub culture is popular around the world, but what is it like?

A: Yes, the pub culture in Ireland is indeed very popular. People may drink as long as they're 18. Drinking is obviously a huge part of the social scene, and note that pubs don't always serve food. They may also serve food up to a certain hour, after which only drinks will be available.

Q: Are there LGBT bars in Ireland?

A: Yes, and most of them are in Dublin. A few examples are Dragon, the city's biggest gay bar found on South Great Georges Street, The George, the city's oldest, which is just a few steps away from Dragon, Front Lounge on Parliament Street, Pantibar on Capel Street and many more.

Q: What's the usual "dress code" for a typical night out in Ireland?

A: This depends mainly on the venue. Jeans are the norm for men, unless they're wearing tennis shoes (called "runners" in Ireland). Revealing clothing is very common among Irish women, especially teenagers, and expats from conservative countries may find this quite disturbing.

Looking for a job

Q: Do all expats need an Irish work permit in order to get a job in Ireland?

A: Yes, except for citizens of European Union-member countries. EU citizens also enjoy priority over non-EU citizens in terms of finding jobs in Ireland.

Q: How often does the Critical Skills Employment Permit have to be renewed?

A: The Critical Skills Employment Permit does not require renewal. It is valid for two years, and an expat who holds the permit can be given a stamp of permission to remain in Ireland for another two years upon the permit’s expiration. There are three conditions for this stamp of permission to be granted: the expat is still with the same employer, in the same job, and with the same salary stated in the permit.

Q: It is said that there are specific jobs/fields of employment in Ireland which are not open to expats. What are they?

A: While the Irish government actually encourages the employment of foreigners in certain sectors such as IT, medical research, healthcare, finance, and construction, there are certain jobs which are closed to foreign workers. These include administrative positions, electricians, mechanics, builders, retail and craft workers, and domestic workers.


Q: What's the currency used in Ireland?

A: Ireland is part of the Eurozone, and as such, its official currency is the euro.

Q: How much do expats pay in income taxes in Ireland?

A: All income earners in Ireland, including expats, pay a standard tax rate of 20% up to a specific amount, depending on the taxpayer being married, single, or a single parent. All income beyond that specific amount will be taxed at 41%.

Q: Do expats in Ireland get any kind of tax privilege from the government?

A: Yes, the Irish government does give tax privileges to expats. Ireland also has existing tax treaties with almost all countries of the world, leading most expats to hire a professional tax planner to deal with the intricacies of expat taxation.


Q: What is the primary language used in Ireland?

A: People in Ireland mainly speak English, although Irish or Gaeilge is still used in everyday life. Public signs and announcements are usually given in both English and Irish. In certain parts of the country called the Gaeltacht regions (mostly in the west and northwest), people do speak Irish a lot.

Q: Is the Irish language the same as Gaelic?

A: No. Irish is the same as Gaeilge, but Gaelic is a group of languages that includes Irish (or Gaeilge) and the native languages of the Isle of Man and Scotland.

Q: What's the dominant religion in Ireland?

A: Ireland is predominantly Catholic, but other religions also exist. When moving to Northern Ireland, expats should remember that religion is a very critical topic across the borders and must be avoided at all times.


Q: Can expats transport their pets to Ireland using any airline or ferry?

A: No. Only airlines registered with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine can fly pets into Ireland. There are also different rules for animal travel through ferries, depending on the operator.

Q: What is the process for importing pet horses to Ireland?

A: This depends on the country of origin and breed. Expats who want to bring a pet horse to Ireland should get the required paperwork from where the animal travels from. A vet will assess and certify the pet's suitability for import. As expected, paperwork for horses coming from EU countries is simpler than that required from horses owned by non-EU citizens.

Q: What particular chip is currently required for dogs imported into Ireland?

A: The current requirement is the ISO - 11784/11785 chip. It is important that a pet travels with the currently required chip to avoid entry problems.


Q: Public education is free in Ireland, but does it cover expat children?

A: Yes, expat kids in can also go to Irish public schools for free, but this only covers tuition. Books, school uniforms and other schooling expenses must be paid by the parents.

Q: What is the main language of instruction used in Irish schools?

A: The main language of instruction used in Irish schools is English. All schools provide Gaelic classes as part of the curriculum, but expat kids are not obliged to attend them.

Q: On which months of the year does the Irish school year begin and end?

A: The Irish school calendar begins in September and ends in June. A typical school day usually opens at 9am and closes at 3pm.


Q: Do people pay VAT on all purchases in Ireland?

A: Shoppers usually pay a VAT of 10-25% on all items except food, health services, kids' clothing, and purchases made from non-profit groups.

Q: What's the most popular one-stop shopping area in Ireland?

A: Dublin's Blanchardstown near N3 and M50 is the most popular name in Ireland when it comes to one-stop shopping. There is a wide variety of stores and services out there, from hairdressing to medical help, and groceries are competitively priced. During lunch hour though, the area can crawl with schoolchildren, and it can get very packed on weekends and right before bank holidays.

Q: Where do consumers file complaints against certain commercial establishments in Ireland?

A: The European Consumer Centre Ireland handles all consumer protection-related concerns. The office is located at the MACRO Building, 1 Green Street Dublin 7.


Q: What are some broadband providers to consider in Ireland?

A: There are many broadband providers in Ireland. Eircom is the biggest and Vodafone is the cheapest. Other providers are Meteor, 3Network, O2, Imagine, Clearwire and UTV.

Q: How much do Internet cafes usually charge in Ireland?

A: It depends on the quality of the connection and the cafe itself. It usually costs between 0.75 to 4 euros an hour. Note that refunds are not given to customers who have paid for unused time. Bigger cafes are also known to charge extra for using certain programs like spreadsheets and word processors.

Q: Do they have 3G keys in Ireland?

A: Yes, some Internet providers in Ireland do offer prepaid or postpaid 3G keys which let people connect to the Internet without geographical restrictions. For postpaid 3G, the key (modem) comes with a rental fee which is merged into the total package price.


Q: What's the cheapest form of intercity travel in Ireland?

A: Airport coaches are the cheapest way to travel in between Irish cities. They also serve routes coming from the outlying cities and towns to Dublin airport, and some of them (for example, the express line to Cork) are as fast as trains.

Q: How is country driving like in Ireland?

A: People who are new to country driving in Ireland will experience a bit of difficulty with the narrow roads which are also often unmarked. One thing to remember is that gas stations become scarcer as one goes further into the countryside. Additionally, a lot of these stations are closed during Sundays.

Q: Are there tolled roads in Ireland?

A: The M50 in Dublin and all major highways in Ireland are tolled. Many expats who travel between cities get an e-flow reader which is an electronic device that allows drivers to pay their tolls on a monthly basis.


Q: Is there a restriction on how much money an expat can take to or from Ireland while traveling?

A: There is none, but under Ireland's Criminal Justice Act 1994 Section 38(1) as amended by the Proceeds of Crime (Amendment) Act 2005 Section 20, travelers carrying no lower than 6,348.69 euro in cash can have their money seized and detained by customs. It is also the responsibility of the customs official to provide reasonable grounds for thinking that the money is ill gotten.

Q: What are the rules for importing personal consumption meat or dairy products to Ireland?

A: It depends on where they come from. Those coming from an EU country can be imported to Ireland if they do not exceed 10kg, and have the EU health mark (an oval stamp). The same products coming from most non-EU countries are banned.

Q: Aside from Dublin, what other Irish cities have international airports?

A: Cork, Shannon, Knock, and Belfast all have their own international airports.


Q: What type of visa is needed by a foreigner who comes to Ireland on a business trip?

A: Expats who plan to come to Ireland to attend a business function need a Short Stay visa (the list of nationals who need or do not need this visa is the same as that which applies to tourist visa applicants). Requirements include an invitation from a host company in Ireland, a letter from the person's employer confirming such invitation, and proof of a temporary Irish address.

Q: What visa is issued to foreigners who want to relocate to Ireland from a country outside the European Economic Area or Switzerland?

A: A person who intends to live in Ireland with his family for over three months, but comes from a country that is not Switzerland or within the European Economic Area, should get a Long Stay Visa (D visa). One of the most critical requirements for getting such a visa is the applicant being able to prove that he has enough funds to support himself and his family during their entire stay.

Q: Under what conditions may a foreigner be admitted to Ireland without a visa?

A: A foreigner who has a UK visa may enter Ireland with no Irish visa as part of the Visa Waiver Programme. However, only citizens of certain countries in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Asia are included.