Everything you need to do when moving to Ireland
Dublin is quickly becoming one of Europe’s most sought after destinations for expats. The economy is steadily increasing, the tech sector is booming, and Dublin is in the spotlight as a solution for companies dealing with the uncertainty of Brexit.
Moving abroad is one of the biggest and most rewarding decisions you will ever make. I left Vancouver when I was 23 and have been living in Europe ever since. The lifestyle is different, the people are different, and you’ll be opening yourself up to new experiences that you wouldn’t have had back home.
Photo by Ethan McArthur
There are lots of things to think about though! When I moved to London in 2011 I went through a program that did all the heavy lifting for you, but Dublin was another story. Ireland boasts friendly people and local charm, but their public services can leave something to be desired. So, I wanted to pull together everything you need to know about moving yourself and your Canadian passport to somewhere in Ireland on the Irish Working Holiday Authorisation visa.
To get yourself set up in Ireland, there are several things that need to be done in a certain order, and many of them actually hinge on each other. If you try to do them out of order, you’ll likely find yourself stuck. So here is your Moving to Ireland Checklist!
The paperwork and planning steps are specific to what is needed for a Canadian to move to Ireland, but the local steps will be the same for anyone coming from outside the EU.
Photo by Tavis Beck
Step 1: Getting your Paperwork to Move to Ireland
As with most things, applying for a working holiday visa starts with your paperwork. You can submit it on your own to the Embassy of Ireland in Ottawa or you can work with SWAP Working Holidays.
SWAP is a great help if you want someone to do the hard work for you. They charge $560 CAD to administer your application but, if you’re nervous about it, having them submit on your behalf will take the stress out of wondering if you filled it out correctly. I used them for both my moves to London and Dublin (it was actually the only way to get to Ireland back in 2013!).
If you’re comfortable applying directly, fill out this application and start to gather all the documents listed on their checklist. You will also need to provide the $150 CAD fee along with your application via bank draft, money order, or cheque. Don’t send cash!
Step 2: Packing, preparing, and booking to move to Ireland
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If you meet the criteria to apply, and haven’t made a mess of your application, you will more than likely be approved for your working holiday in Ireland. This is where the fun starts! While you’re waiting to hear back on your application, which usually takes 4-6 weeks, start doing your research. Ask yourself:
- Where do you want to live? Dublin is the obvious choice for many — it has an international airport, a busy tech scene, and an international community — and that’s the focus of this post. But maybe you’re more interested in the country? Cork and Galway are good sized cities with so much culture and character to offer. Figure out what type of experience you want to have and pick your location to match.
- What are you going to pack? You will shop when you get arrive no matter how many times you say you’re trying to save. Don’t bring too much with you, you’ll want to get things locally to help yourself feel settled. If you don’t have a good suitcase, now is the time to invest in one. I’d also recommend investing in a versatile carry-on that you can continue to use for your inevitable weekends away.
- When are you flying? Booking your flight is a little bit harder because you don’t know when your visa will be granted. Luckily, this visa doesn’t start until you arrive in Ireland and you have 12 months to get yourself in gear. Unless you’re in a huge rush, I’d wait to book your flight until your visa has come through. Set up Google Flights notifications for good deals to Dublin in the meantime!
- Where are you going to stay when you first arrive? The most cost-effective thing to do on arrival in Dublin is to stay in a hostel or an Airbnb. Go with what makes you most comfortable and allows you to run around getting yourself set up! Book something for your first two weeks so you don’t have to worry about moving.
My Favourite Carry-ons
Step 3: Arriving to Your New Home in Dublin
The first thing you should do is register with the GNIB office (Garda National Immigration Bureau). This used to be called your GNIB Card, but you’ll now see it referred to as the IRP (Irish Residency Permit). Despite all the money you will have paid to get your visa in the first place, this will cost you an additional €300. You have to keep this card with you when you travel — the customs officers at the airport will want to see it when you return from your wild European vacations.
Make sure you do this as soon as possible because you can’t get a job without it.
Photo by Michael Baccin
Step 4: Finding a Place to Live in Dublin
This is where things start to get complicated. You’re going to need an address to get your Personal Public Service (PPS) number, like your Canadian SIN number, as well as to open a bank account. Don’t delay!
Housing is expensive in many Irish cities, especially in Dublin. Consider the type of work you’ll be doing and what your commute might look like. Also look at the transport links to the neighbourhoods you’re considering. Walking for 30 minutes to the train doesn’t seem that bad, but remember it rains a lot. Here is the Transport for Ireland Journey Planner to get you started with your research.
The further out from Dublin, the more likely you are to find something decently affordable. A good place to start looking is south of the river in Dublin 2, 4, 6, and 8, then work your way out as far as Dun Laoghaire. Any further and you’ll just spend all your time commuting.
Step 5: Setting up in Dublin
PPS Number: Sign up for your PPS Number as soon as you can. You will need an address to get this (you see how everything is connected?). If you’ve already secured a job, they can make an application on your behalf. Otherwise, take one step back and start looking for somewhere to live! You will need a PPS number to get paid.
Bank Account: This one is also important! You won’t be able to get paid unless you have a bank account in your name. In order to open a bank account, however, you will need to provide proof of address. When your PPS number arrives, you can use this letter. AIB, Bank of Ireland, KBC, and Ulster Bank are popular banking options. Make sure you review their charges, as most banks here will charge you a few cents every time you even think about buying something.
If you’re looking for a bit of a break at this stage, here are a few things that might help:
- The Complete Guide to Dublin
- An Itinerary for a Classic Weekend in Dublin
- An Itinerary for a Girly Weekend in Dublin
- The 13 Most Instagrammable Places in Dublin
- The Dublin Guides: Where to Drink, Eat, Shop
Photo by Flemming Fuchs
Step 6: Finding a Job in Ireland
You’re nearly there! It’s time to find a job. This is something you can start working on in the background as you’re getting yourself set up. Some processes are quick, especially if you go for a contract role, but many can take a month or more.
I know many people actually start sending out applications before they leave home, to try to get the ball rolling right when they arrive. This is up to you! Here are a few places to start when looking for a job in Dublin:
Agencies: While going to a recruitment agency isn’t very popular in Canada, that’s a very common way to find a job over here. Do a search for recruitment agencies that focus on your industry and send out a few CVs (the European name for resume). There are also larger agencies that cover many industries like Morgan McKinley, CPL, and Hays.
Job Boards: Job boards are a great way to get insight into the local job market. It’s also a fun way to find out what companies are based in the city. LinkedIn, Glassdoor, IrishJobs, Indeed, and Jobbio should get you started.
Tech Jobs: Want a job where you can sit on a beanbag all day? Come on, who doesn’t? Tech companies are so big, they need every type of job from Facilities to Marketing to Sales to Business Development. Definitely take a look at the big tech companies who have set up their European HQ in Dublin.
Step 7: Get Out and Explore Ireland
Enjoy your new life in Ireland! The people are friendly and you won’t find a better pint of Guinness. Remember to get out and see the rest of the country. Here are a few blogs to get you started on your Irish adventures:
- 11 Things to Do in Dublin on a Sunday
- 12 More Instagrammable Places in Dublin
- Driving the Ring of Kerry in Ireland
- 22 Photos That Will Make You Fall in Love with County Kerry, Ireland
- Cycling the Aran Islands
- Get Blown Away on Ireland’s Downpatrick Head
- A Visit to Newgrange, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Seeing Giant’s Causeway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
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