Estimated reading time: 11 minutes
Ireland, also called the Emerald Isle, is a country of contrasts, famous for green, rolling hills, busy modern cities, and a small nation with a smattering of villages, coastal towns and, of course, the capital, Dublin.
As part of the European Union, Ireland has become an attractive destination for expats, investors, and businesses worldwide, not least for Brits looking to embrace the culture, food, and community spirit that Ireland is legendary for.
Read on to learn about the visa entry rules, living costs and essential information you need to know to plan a relocation to Ireland.
Table of contents
- Ireland – Quick Facts
- Visas And Residency
- Safety And Security
- Cost Of Living In Ireland
- Buying Or Renting A Home
- Where Do British Expats Live In Ireland?
- Working In Ireland
- Local Laws And Customs
- Education And Schooling
- Living In Ireland FAQ
- Related Information
Ireland – Quick Facts
- Bratach na hÉireann, or Irish tricolour – the Irish flag
- Population: 5.033 million
- UK expat population: 293,061
- Capital: Dublin
- Main cities: Cork, Limerick, and Galway
Visas And Residency
British nationals, including those who wish to work or study, do not need a residency permit or visa to live in Ireland. As part of the Brexit agreement, the Republic of Ireland confirmed that the Common Travel Area rules between the countries would continue to apply. Citizens from either country can move freely between the two.
However, you must inform the UK government offices, including HMRC, pension providers and relevant benefit offices, of any permanent move to ensure that your tax affairs, employment record and pension contributions are up-to-date.
While you do not necessarily need a passport and can use any official photo ID to enter Ireland, you will require a valid passport if you move permanently. Immigration officers will verify the ID of any UK passengers and can ask for proof of nationality if you were born outside of Britain.
Proof of vaccination
Ireland has lifted requirements for COVID-19 vaccination proof on entry and no longer requires travellers to file a passenger locator form.
If you travel with a passport, your document must be valid and within the date. Other forms of ID may require additional proof of ID. More information about accepted identification documents is available through the Ireland Citizens Information Board.
Taking medicines into Ireland
Some medications prescribed in the UK differ from those in the EU, and you may not be able to bring certain drugs with you – it is important to verify beforehand whether your medication is permitted.
You should bring a letter from your GP confirming that your medicine has been prescribed, and you can check which medications are considered controlled drugs and will need to be accompanied by a prescription and letter.
Medicines can require a licence if you stay in Ireland for three months or have a medication supply that lasts longer than three months.
The Health Products Regulatory Authority provides further information about which medications are restricted and how to apply for a licence where necessary.
British nationals may not require a police certificate or criminal record check to move to Ireland. Still, formal processes, such as registering as a resident or applying for a professional licence, will likely require a background check.
Visa applicants must disclose full details of their criminal record history within their application. Many employers will require a criminal record check to offer a contract to a British expat.
Safety And Security
Ireland is a safe country, with the most common crimes involving pick-pocketing and bag snatching in tourist areas and central areas of Dublin.
The Troubles often still associated with Ireland largely ended with the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. However, political tensions can persist, with small sections of the Real IRA still present in Cork and Dublin.
Car theft is possible when vehicles are left in public car parks without being securely locked. Rental cars in tourist spots are particularly at risk, and valuables should be kept out of sight.
Foreign nationals are advised to avoid public protests or demonstrations with potential violence and civil disruption.
UK driving licences are not valid in Ireland; if you move to the country as a resident, you must exchange your licence. Visitors can use a British licence for temporary stays, but this is not permitted if you become a normal resident.
You must exchange your licence within one year of the expiry date – out-of-date licences cannot be exchanged, and you must apply for a new theory test, drive with a learner’s permit, and pass an eyesight and driving test.
Eyesight tests are also routinely required for licence exchanges unless you have a medical certificate exempting this requirement. The National Driver Licence Service manages applications.
Expats moving to Ireland with a British-registered vehicle must register it with the authorities within one week of arrival or risk having the car impounded.
Road accidents are more common than in the UK, and driving over the new stricter legal alcohol limits carries tough penalties. Experienced drivers can be prosecuted for having 0.05 per cent alcohol within their blood, compared to 0.08 per cent in the UK, with stricter limits for newly qualified drivers.
Signposts may be in Gaelic or English, and speed limits are normally in kilometres rather than miles, although cars drive on the left.
Cost Of Living In Ireland
Ireland is not considered a cheap place to live, primarily because it is a small country where many goods are imported, including fuel. A family of four requires an average budget of roughly €5,389 (£4,785) per month, and a single person €3,097 (£2,750).
Like most countries, the cities are the more expensive places to live, with Dublin being the priciest location in Ireland, followed by Cork and Limerick.
Average living costs in Ireland, compared to the UK, are:
- 50.4 per cent higher for rent
- 18.3 per cent more expensive for groceries
- 9.6 per cent higher for restaurants
- 16.6 per cent higher for general consumer prices
However, British expats moving to Ireland from London may find that costs are slightly cheaper, with total living costs around five per cent lower than in the UK capital.
Need Help with your Finances?
Buying Or Renting A Home
No rules prevent British nationals from purchasing a property in Ireland, and homes range from contemporary apartments in city centres to rural cottages, rustic farmhouses, and generous family properties.
Many expats living outside city centres find that the average property has more outdoor space since the Irish countryside has a low population density.
Those looking for properties to rent can search local publications and use online forums such as Daft, Rent, Property, MyHome, Gumtree and Rentola, all of which have Irish domains and a range of listings.
Buying a home can be more complex, but the process is similar to the UK, where purchasers need to consider mortgage costs, conveyancing fees, stamp duty, and registering ownership deeds. Most properties are listed and sold through estate agents.
Deposits are refundable until both parties sign the contract for sale. Sellers can back out of a deal after exchanging contracts, typically if they have left the home on the market and received a higher offer.
Cost of renting and buying a home
|Property Type||Average Rental Cost Per Month|
|One-bedroom city centre apartment||€1,539 / £1,367|
|One-bedroom apartment elsewhere||€1,289 / £1,145|
|Three-bedroom city centre apartment||€2,569 / £2,281|
|Three-bedroom apartment elsewhere||€2,045 / £1,816|
|Property Type||Average Price A Square Metre|
|City centre apartment||€4,639 / £4,119|
|Apartment elsewhere||€3,235 / £2,873|
Average monthly net salaries post-tax are €2,691 (£2,390), compared to £2,306 in the UK. Mortgage costs are around 3.4 per cent on average for a 20-year fixed rate, approximately 0.2 per cent higher than in Britain.
Where Do British Expats Live In Ireland?
Foreign nationals living in Ireland tend to be concentrated in the following locations:
- Dublin: Killiney Bay and Dalkey
- County Dublin: Skerries and Malahide
- County Cork: Skibbereen, Kinsale and Cork
- County Wicklow: Greystones
- County Galway: Galway
- County Clar: Ennis
- County Mayo: Westport
UK citizens are entitled to healthcare through the Common Travel Area when travelling but will sometimes need proof of ID or nationality. Residents have the same eligibility for public healthcare as Irish citizens.
Some services carry fees, and costs are means-tested, so some residents pay more than others.
Residents can access healthcare with a medical card or by paying the standard patient charges. Those who pay medical costs can apply for a GP visit card, meaning any GP services are free.
UK nationals living in Ireland who are not eligible for a low-income medical card must register as private patients and can pick any GP practice. More details are available from the Health Service Executive.
Working In Ireland
British expats do not need a work permit to accept a job offer in Ireland, although some positions may require a UK criminal records background check. Applicants can also apply for a police certificate from the Gardai.
The UK and Ireland have a double tax treaty, which means you can apply for a tax credit if you are assessed as liable for tax on the same income or event in both countries. Double taxation relief may need to be applied retrospectively, and you should always verify the correct procedure with the tax office.
British nationals living in Ireland pay only one set of social security contributions at a time, so they will not be expected to simultaneously pay UK National Insurance and Irish contributions.
Income tax rates depend on whether you are married, in a civil partnership, single or widowed. Irish tax charges are straightforward and based on 20 per cent and 40 per cent tax tiers.
For example, a married individual where both partners earn an income pays 20 per cent tax on the first €49,000 of their income, with a rate band increase, capped at either €31,000 or the earnings of the partner who makes less.
The balance of their income is taxed at 40 per cent. For 2023, tax allowances are €3,550 for married taxpayers and €1,775 for individuals. Additional tax credits and allowances include age tax credits, child carer credits and dependent relative tax credits. Full tax tables and details are published on the Revenue website.
The agreements between the Irish and UK governments protect social security entitlements. However, you will need to reapply for Irish social security benefits, with requirements including proof of habitual residence.
The Operational Guidelines explain the rules for claiming habitual residence, and Citizens Information includes details of available social welfare benefits.
Local Laws And Customs
- Drug offences are strictly penalised, and even possessing small quantities of a banned substance can lead to long prison terms.
- New residents are advised never to agree to carry any item for another person.
- Ireland is a liberal country, and same-sex marriage is legal, with rights protected by discrimination legislation.
Education And Schooling
Irish children attend primary school, followed by a post-primary or secondary school. They must attend a minimum education from age 6 to 16 or at least three years post-primary education.
Most schools offer places based on admissions policies, and state-funded education is available for all ages, excluding private schools. Irish schools normally teach in English, although there are Gaelscoileanna schools, which predominantly use the Gaelic Irish language.
Schools in Ireland will usually provide Gaelic lessons or subject options based on the Irish language. Education standards are high, and most expats enrol their children in local public schools but must pay for uniforms, extra-curricular activities, and books.
Parents who choose to send their children to a private school pay roughly €8,000 (£7,105) a year on average, although most private schools are based in Dublin, and there are fewer independent schools in other areas.
Other options include private tutors, although only around 0.2 per cent of children in Ireland study outside the public education system.
Living In Ireland FAQ
Ireland is part of the EU and uses the Euro. The current exchange rate means that €1 is worth approximately £0.89.
Ireland is known for having wet, cold, and windy weather, although this largely applies to rural and coastal areas exposed to heavy sea currents from the Atlantic. The weather is unpredictable and less warm than on the southeast English coast. Averages reach around 15°C to 20°C in the summer and 5°C in the winter, although sunnier days can feel cold due to the sea mist.
Ireland is the Republic of Ireland, an independent state, and a different country from Northern Ireland, which shares a border towards the north and east of the country. Northern Ireland is part of the UK, and uses British Sterling, whereas Ireland is larger and an EU member.
Crime rates in Ireland are similar to those in the UK; most people find it a safe, relaxed, and secure place to live. Petty crimes such as pick-pocketing and thefts from unlocked vehicles are most common in tourist areas and central Dublin, and crime is more unusual in rural communities.
No, the Common Travel Area covers Ireland and the UK, so British nationals do not need a visa or permit to live, work or study in Ireland. However, they must register their move with the relevant tax, benefits and registration authorities. Administration changes include registering for an Irish driving licence and obtaining a new tax ID from the Irish Revenue.
Get the expert advice you need to make the best financial decisions.
Below is a list of related articles you may find of interest.