Planning your journey home to Ireland


This page can help you plan your journey home to Ireland.

It covers the important things to do before returning home from abroad, such as gathering your medical records and children’s school reports. It also has information on shipping your belongings, car, and travelling home with a pet.

Important things to do before returning

Prepare to find somewhere to live

To help you find somewhere to live, you should gather relevant documents from the country you’re leaving, such as:

  • References from your current landlord
  • Proof you have ended your tenancy abroad
  • Proof you have sold property abroad.

Before you arrive, research renting or buying a home in Ireland. If this is not an option, you may be able to apply for social housing and get a Housing Assistance Payment (HAP), however you will need to meet certain criteria before your application is accepted.

Read our page on housing supports for returning emigrants for more information.

Enrol children in school

If you’re returning with children, bring their recent school reports and test results to help their new school determine what class suits their needs.

You can book your child’s school places in advance. See our pages on:

You and your children may also be eligible for free tuition on a publicly funded third-level course. Read our information on the Irish education system for more information.

Gather your medical records

Before returning to Ireland, ask your doctor for copies of your medical records, prescriptions for drugs and medicines, and immunisation records for you and your family.

Read more about accessing healthcare on your return to Ireland.

Find work

If possible, you should try and secure a job before returning to Ireland. You can prepare your CV (resumé) before you move. You can also ask your most recent employer to give you a reference.

Read more about working in Ireland after living abroad.

Check if your passport is valid

Ideally, your passport should be valid for 6 months after the date you return home. If it is due to expire, you should renew your passport at least 6 weeks before you travel. If your passport is lost or stolen, you should report it missing and replace it.

If you are a dual citizen, you can travel on either of your passports. However, we would recommend that you use your Irish passport when travelling to Ireland.

You can use a passport card if you’re travelling from certain European countries.

Children must have their own passport. If your child is eligible for an Irish passport, you can apply for their first Irish passport before you move.

Visit the Passport Online website for more information.

Immigration and customs

If you are an Irish citizen, you do not need immigration permission to return to Ireland.

If you’re returning to Ireland with members of your family who are not Irish citizens (such as a de facto partner, spouse, or civil partner) they may need immigration permission to live and work here.

Read the residency and citizenship section of our website for more information.

Customs and related charges

When you arrive, customs officers may carry out checks on your belongings, including personal baggage. This is to make sure you are not carrying prohibited or restricted goods.

Check the customs regulations to see how much cash, tobacco and alcohol you can bring into the country. You may have to pay import charges, such as customs duty and Value Added Tax. However, you can get relief from import charges on certain items.

Shipping your personal belongings home

If you’re returning to Ireland for an extended period of time, you will need to ship your belongings home.

When you’re deciding what to ship, be aware that the cost will depend on size, weight and shape. If possible, get sales receipts or invoices for all the items you’re shipping.

Depending on the type of goods you’re shipping, and where they’re coming from, import charges such as customs duty and Value Added Tax may apply.

You may be able to claim tax relief for certain items. Revenue has a full list of rules on relief from Customs Duty and VAT.

Bringing your vehicle to Ireland

Before you import your vehicle, make sure you have all the documentation that you need.

When importing a vehicle into Ireland, you may need to pay a Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT). Revenue has information on VRT exemptions and a calculator that will tell you how much you may owe. You will also need to register the vehicle with the National Car Testing Service (NCTS), get motor insurance, and pay motor tax.

You may be able to claim relief from VAT and customs duties on your vehicle.

Find out about converting your driving licence to an Irish driving licence.

Bringing your pet to Ireland

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) controls the importation of pets into Ireland. You are allowed to bring a maximum of 5 pets with you to Ireland under pet travel rules. Different rules apply if you are bringing more than 5 pets. You must have original paperwork for all pets, not copies. Your pet must also arrive with you, or 5 days before or after you travel.

There are different rules and procedures depending on the type of pet you are bringing to Ireland and where they are travelling from. Find out more about:

Before you travel, ask your vet for a copy of all your pets’ medical records. This should include information on prescriptions for medicines, immunisations and microchipping.

Find out more on the DAFM’s website.

Page edited: 23 February 2024