Disclaimer. If you haven’t read this series before please read this first.
I moved to Dublin, Ireland in August. 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, but first I wanted to start with whether you should (or can) move to Ireland.
Why Did I Move to Ireland?
Many have asked me why I chose to move to Ireland. There were three big reasons.
- I found a cheap flight from Edmonton to London and then onto Dublin.
- English is the main language, so I wouldn’t have the stress of learning a new language. I will mention Gaelic is an official language here, but English will be fine unless maybe you move to a small town or get a job with the government.
- I meet the age requirements for this Working Holiday Visa. Many countries have their working holiday programs end at age of 30, but Ireland can go until you’re 35. Since I’m 32 (31 when I applied) Ireland seemed like a good choice.
Plus there’s history, art, culture, theater, literature, music, food, drink, friendly people, beautiful scenery and all sorts of other stuff I wanted to explore in Ireland. It’s small enough I can head to the other side of the country for a weekend trip. Plus there are cheap flights to the UK and western Europe if I want to explore elsewhere.
The Working Holiday Visa for Canadians coming to Ireland
- The Working Holiday Visa is good for Canadian citizens who are 18-35. Other countries may have different age restrictions with their Working Holiday Visa program in Ireland.
- The visa is good for up to 2 consecutive years. You cannot extend/renew the visa when it expires. You also cannot apply for another working holiday visa.
- For Canadians, there are no restrictions on where you can work, or how long you can work. You just can’t overstay your visa.
- The visa itself is a stamp 1 visa. Employers may ask what type of visa you have. I made sure to tell employers my visa has no work restrictions, aside from it only being valid until August 2018.
- The visa is only good for the Republic of Ireland.
- You can choose to apply for the visa on your own (costs less, but you’re on your own). Alternately you can go through the SWAP program (pricier but you get support). More information on that in the next section.
- When you send out your passport to the Irish Embassy in Canada, you’re not given the visa itself. What you get is a laminated letter from the embassy. It has the authorization to get your working holiday visa on arrival. When you land in Ireland you should get a visa stamp from immigration. Then you will need to do some paperwork and stuff before you can start working. That will be covered in a future part of this series.
- I will say there are no guarantees your visa will be approved or that you’ll be allowed entry into Ireland. Immigration can deny your entry into Ireland even with your authorization letter.
SWAP or Not?
SWAP is the program in Canada where you can get your Working Holiday Visa in Ireland. You can apply for an individual visa through the Ireland website, but I went through SWAP. It’ll cost you around $560CAD (at least when I did it). That gets you the laminated letter from the Irish embassy to get the visa on your arrival in Ireland. It includes extras like two nights at a hostel, an orientation session, free use of computers/printers/internet in Dublin, an information booklet, and support while you’re in Ireland. They can help you find a place to live and get a job, but they won’t place you directly in a job or in a flat. You got to do that yourself. There are also regular events with other work abroad people, which is nice to have.
If you choose to do the visa on your own, you’ll want to visit the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website. You’ll need to apply for the visa either at the Irish Embassy in Canada (in Ottawa) or by mailing the required documents to the embassy. It will only cost about $200CAD, but you’re on your own with the application and the rest of the process (including when you come to Ireland).
Since this was my first time moving to another country (hell moving outside the 30km radius of where I’d lived all my life), I went with SWAP. It costs more but having that support system here in Dublin has been worth it. I think I’ve gotten my money’s worth in the amount of CVs I’ve had to print out.
One More Thing to Consider
Money. Yes, I could tell you that you can see the world with no money, but moving abroad is different. If you’re planning to move to Ireland you’ll need to show you have at least $2500 (about €1700) in your bank account. Your visa, flights, accommodations, general travel expenses, and travel insurance are not included in these funds.
On a personal note, I’ve been job searching since I got here (I had one job for a few weeks, but that fell through). I would suggest having €2500 or more in your bank account, just in case. If you can get a job right away the rental market is still pretty tough, (at least in Dublin) and hostel rooms (even shared dorms) aren’t cheap. I can’t speak for other areas of the country, but Dublin can be expensive. Worst case scenario you’ll have to rely on your backup funds when things are tight. Best case scenario you’ve got some extra travel money.
In the next post in this series I’ll talk about the things you need to do before coming to Ireland, including what to bring.
Have you moved to another country? Feel free to share your experience or questions in the comment section.