Disclaimer. If you haven’t read this series before please read this first.
I moved to Dublin, Ireland in August 2016. As such I wanted to provide information about moving to Ireland. This series is from the perspective of a Canadian on a Working Holiday Visa. If you’re from another country/want to get a permanent visa/plan to attend school in Ireland you’ll need to do further research. Here is a good place to start. I am not an immigration lawyer or expert and I make no guarantees your experience moving to Ireland (or any country) will be the same as mine. Failure to do the proper research and apply for the proper paperwork to move to a new country could land you in legal and financial trouble (including prison and being banned from the country). It’s up to you to make sure you are moving to Ireland (or any country) in a legal way. Nonetheless I hope this series will serve as a starting point and inspiration if you are thinking about moving to Ireland.
Ireland in this series refers to the Republic of Ireland. Northern Ireland is a part of the UK and has different rules about visas. If you are looking to work in Northern Ireland, you will need to research visas for the UK.
There’ll be a few parts to this series. This second part is about what to do before you leave. Previously in this series there was
Congratulations you’ve decided to move to Ireland. It’s a beautiful country, but the journey has just started. Let’s tackle some of the things you’ll need to do before you get here.
What to Do Before Coming to Ireland
- Have a valid passport (with no damage) in your name. You’ll want your passport to be valid for at least six months before you come home. So if you’re planning to travel around Europe for 3 months after your 2-year visa ends make sure your passport is good for 3 years or longer.
- Get the visa/authorization letter. Give yourself at least 6 weeks to apply for your visa/authorization letter before your intended arrival in Ireland. Your visa won’t be activated until you arrive in Ireland. If you go through SWAP, they have a handy checklist of everything you’ll need to do to get your visa.
- Get insurance. Whenever you travel you should always have insurance. If you’re looking to move abroad you’ll minimally need to get medical insurance. Looking at expat insurance will give you comprehensive coverage. Be sure to check and make sure your insurance policy will cover you the whole time you’ll be gone. If it doesn’t you’ll need to check ahead to see how to renew it while you’re away.
- Make copies of all your important documents (passport, authorization letter, flight/hotel itinerary, signed bank statement, and proof of insurance). Send one copy to yourself (email, secure cloud storage, etc.) and another copy to a family member or friend you trust. This will help if you lose one of these documents or if they’re stolen. You’ll also want to make a note of where your country’s nearest consulate or embassy is in Dublin.
- Bring your prescription medication. Talk to your doctor about any prescription medications you need, and getting a long term supply. Once in Ireland talk to a physician or a pharmacist about getting a refill on any prescriptions you’re taking.
- A note about birth control: Unfortunately the majority of birth control options are left to women. Abortions are illegal in Ireland, except in cases when a pregnant woman’s life is in danger. If you’re not looking to get pregnant while in Ireland and/or take birth control for other reasons (regulating your periods, making them less awful, etc.) be sure to research your birth control options before you leave. Candice of Free Candie wrote a great post about birth control options for long term travel. Condoms can be purchased at any pharmacy in Ireland.
- Booking your flight. You’ll need to have a flight to Ireland. If you decide to fly somewhere else first (I went to London for a few days and then came to Dublin) be sure you have an itinerary that shows all your flights. An email confirmation or something like that will be okay.
- Money. You need proof (in the form of a signed letter from your bank manager) that you have at least $2500 in your bank account. Personally, I’d recommend having at least €2500 in your bank (which is about $3600). It gives you some breathing room if it’s taking longer to find a place to live and/or a job. Ireland uses the Euro so you might want to stop at your bank at home and get €100 in cash for when you first arrive in Ireland.
- Contact your bank and credit card companies. Let them know you’ll be living in Ireland for two years. This way they hopefully won’t freeze or cancel your accounts when you try to use your debit/credit abroad.
On a personal note if you’re Canadian I highly recommend the getting the Chase Amazon.ca Visa card. It’s a no-fee card, and it doesn’t charge any foreign transaction fees (although you pay the currency exchange rate). This card can be useful to help you save a bit of money, as long as you pay your balance off right away.
- Cancel any accounts you don’t need. Make sure to give your forwarding address to anyone who might need it (like former employers so they can send you tax information). If you can get someone you trust to check your mail back at your old address, it might be a good idea as well. I was living with my parents before I moved to Ireland, so if I get any mail in Canada, they can let me know what it’s about.
- Tell people and companies you’re moving to Ireland. This was an excellent way to get out of things. Them, “would you be interested in signing up for electricity with Company X?” Me, “oh I’m sorry I can’t. I’m moving to Ireland.” Honestly, you should just always pretend to be moving to another country to get out of things.
- Book accommodations. Finding a place to rent can take time. I’d recommend booking at least a few nights of accommodation while you get settled and find a place to live. Hotels can be expensive so you may want to consider hostels, or guesthouses/AirBnb’s. If you go through SWAP/USI, you’ll get a voucher for 2 nights in a hostel. Consider accommodations that offer breakfast and/or have a kitchen for you to use. Buying groceries will be much cheaper than eating out.
- Check listings on Daft.ie and Jobs.ie . Daft is the major rental website in Ireland and Jobs.ie is obviously for finding jobs. It’s important not to apply for any rentals or jobs yet. You want to be in Ireland so you can see the rental properties in person and for jobs to be able to attend interviews. However, I recommend checking these websites in advance to familiarize yourself with rentals costs and the job market.
- If you’re going through SWAP, be sure to book your orientation session. It’ll be on a Tuesday or Friday morning. Try to give yourself at least a day after you arrive to recover from jetlag/general travel fatigue.
If you plan to drive in Ireland you can drive with a driver’s license from your home country for up to 12 months. After that you’ll need to apply for an Irish driver’s license. You can’t just transfer your old licence to an Irish one. You will need to complete a driver’s test and eye exam to get your Learner Permit. After that you can take a Driver’s Test to get your full Irish driver’s license.
I chose not to drive in Ireland, but to rely on public transit instead. Purchasing a car would mean an extra cost, not just in buying the vehicle itself, but in registering it, insuring it, paying for gas, maintaining it, and parking costs. There would also be the cost of getting the Learner Permit and full driver’s licence as well.
Remember if you decide to drive in Ireland that they drive on the left side of the road. Automatic vehicles aren’t as common here as manual/standard and will cost more (to buy or just to rent). Roads in rural areas can be quite narrow (from what I’ve heard from friends who’ve driven here), and traffic circles or roundabouts are quite common. In Ireland they use the metric system so gas prices are per litre and speed limits are kilometres per hour.
What to Bring
You’ll need to have your passport and working holiday authorization letter. As well make sure to have your flight itinerary from Canada (and elsewhere, if you travelled before arriving in Ireland), your proof of insurance, and your bank support funds letter. When I went through Immigration they didn’t ask for the flight itinerary or bank letter, but they can.
Pack an adapter so you can use your electronics here. Ireland uses the same type of plug as the UK, which is at 230v 50hz. If your electronics or electrical devices have a higher voltage, you’ll need a power converter as well.
If you have an unlocked cell you can easily get a sim card and phone plan when you get to Ireland. If not you can purchase a phone here. Tesco Mobile is pretty cheap if you need to buy a phone and a plan. I had my unlocked phone from home and got a plan through Meteor.
Bringing some kind of laptop might be a good idea, but it depends on your circumstance. I’m a writer and blogger and need access to a computer for work. I purchased a $175 Chromebook in Canada. It’s not fancy, but it can do everything I need. That said most hotels/hostels will have public computers to use. Same with public libraries and the USIT resource centre in Dublin will as well (if you go through that program). Just know public computers are public, so you don’t want to save anything important to them. Make sure to bring a USB drive with your resume and references.
I also recommend packing at least one office-type outfit as people tend to dress pretty formally here for interviews (even if it’s for a casual job). Make sure to have a pair of nice looking shoes (not just runners or hiking boots) to wear for interviews as well.
Think of going to Ireland like going on any trip. Pack some clothes and toiletries to get you through a few days, but don’t go crazy packing too much. If you forgot something you can probably buy it in Ireland.
What not to Bring
- An umbrella. Yes, it rains in Ireland, but that umbrella you got at Shopper’s Drug Mart is going to be inside out within two days. Buy a good, golf umbrella when you get to Ireland, and not the cheap €5 ones.
- Furniture and appliances. You don’t have to ship your bed or fridge or anything like that to Ireland. If you’re looking to rent a flat/apartment, or even just a room in someone’s house they usually come furnished with everything you need. My bedroom came with a single bed, wardrobe, nightstand, and curtains.
- Household items. While I did have to buy a few things, like some hangers and a couple bath towels when I moved into my flat it wouldn’t have made sense to bring those from Canada. You can easily buy these items after you find a place to live and know what you need.
- All the clothes for all the seasons and possible occasions. As mentioned before you’ll want to have at least one professional outfit for job interviews. Whatever you might have forgotten you can always buy when you get here.
- Books. I love books, but they’re heavy and take up space. An e-reader or tablet loaded with books is a great alternative to packing physical books. There are also bookstores and libraries in Ireland if you want to get books here.
- Over the counter prescriptions. I brought some ibuprofen and decongestants for colds, but there are plenty of pharmacies in Ireland. Don’t feel obligated to stock up before you leave.
- A vehicle. If you decide to drive it’ll be best to purchase a car in Ireland. Shipping a car from overseas is very expensive.
As far as physical items are concerned the most important things to remember are; your passport, your visa authorization letter, your signed bank letter, your proof of insurance, your flight/accommodation itinerary, money (including your credit cards and bank cards), and any prescription medications you need. Anything else you may need will be available to buy when you get here.
That said you’ll also want to bring a positive attitude and lots of patience. There is a lot to set when you arrive to work here and get paid. We’ll cover that in the next part of this series.
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Have you moved abroad? Did you bring anything you regretted? Did you leave something behind you wish you had brought? Leave a comment below.