Move to Ireland
Ireland Travel Tips

A guide to moving to Ireland


Are you thinking of moving to Ireland from South Africa? Moving to a foreign city, where a different language is spoken and a completely new way of life awaits can be daunting. Whether it’s adapting to a new workplace, making new friends or understanding the locals its important to be ready for an adventure and a sometimes stressful situation.

Moving to Ireland from south Africa

Ultimate guide to moving to Ireland from South Africa

This is a guide on how to adapt and survive while working and living in Ireland.

Visas needed for Ireland Immigration

First things first, visas! If you are a non-EU National, you need a visa to live in Ireland. I’ll focus on what you need as a fellow South African whose looking to move and work in Ireland. There are 5 ways to get an Irish residency permit:

  1. If you are sponsored by a company so you can work in Ireland
  2. If you’re the spouse or dependent of a foreign national who received a job offer in Ireland
  3. If you’re the spouse of an Irish Citizen, the EU and the European Economic Area (EEA) & Switzerland
  4. If you are enrolled in a school. Everything you need to know about student visa’s HERE
  5. If you get a work holiday visa (only applicable to Australians)

Types of Irish Work Permits:

Critical Skills Work Permit

This visa is for highly skilled people such as ICT professionals, professional engineers and technologists. There is no labor test required and the job offer must be for two years with a minimum annual remuneration of €30,000 – €60,000. The processing fee for a Critical Skills Employment Permit is €1,000. If an application is unsuccessful then 90% of the fee will be refunded.

General Work Permit

All occupations unless specified can apply for this permit, it allows you to work in Ireland doing work like construction, teaching, hospitality etc. The minimum annual remuneration is €30,000. Remuneration includes the salary for the job and health insurance. To qualify, a labour market test needs to be conducted by the employer. The processing fee is also €1,000.

Dependent Work Permit

You can apply for this visa if your spouse or child has a critical work permit. You have to prove that you are the wife or husband or parent of a foreign national who works in Ireland and that you are financially dependent on this person. Application for this visa is free.

Suggested Reading: Everything you need to know about the new South African Expat Tax

Things you need when you arrive in Ireland

Getting a GNIB Card

A Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) Card is a residency permit that is issued to Non EU/EEA or Switzerland citizens who live in Ireland. You need to apply for an appointment online:

What you need to bring with you to your appointment:

  • Valid passport
  • Current student card
  • Evidence of financial support, e.g. current bank statement showing your name, a letter of guarantee from parent or guardian indicating availability of sufficient funds to sustain you for the duration of your stay in Ireland; or a letter from your sponsoring body confirming financial status.
  • A letter from the college including your student status, start date and the duration of your course and stating that fees have been paid.
  • Evidence of private health insurance.
  • €300 application fee – this must be paid by card (no cash allowed).

Applying for a PPS Number:

The Personal Public Service Number (PPS) is an identity number issued by the Irish government. Your PPS number is always 7 numbers followed by either one or two letters. It’s similar to your social security number in the US and ID number in South Africa. You need a PPS number to apply for work, rent an apartment, register for tax and get a bank account.

If you want to get a PPS number, you must first register with MyGovID then make an appointment online at

Applying for a Bank Account:

To apply for a bank account in the Republic of Ireland, you’ll need two documents one valid form of photo ID and a document to prove your address. Your passport, driving licence or national identity card (if you’re an EU citizen) are all valid forms of photo ID. In order to prove your address, you will need to produce one of the following documents:

  • a recent utility bill (less than 6 months old)
  • a recent bank statement (less than 6 months old); or
  • correspondence from a government department or authority.

Best Banks in the Republic of Ireland:

  • Allied Irish Banks (AIB)
  • Bank of Ireland
  • Ulster Bank
  • Permanent TSB
  • EBA

Most banks allow online applications, but you will have to come in to bring your original ID and proof of residence. Unfortunately, you don’t get your card immediately after applying. They send your card in the mail within 7 days and you will also receive a separate letter with your pin after a few days to activate the card. They do this for security reasons and honestly this was one thing I didn’t like about opening an account, I felt like it took such a long time.

Securing a job in Ireland

It’s illegal to work in Ireland without a work permit. You also can’t immigrate without a job offer. If you are seeking a job that requires qualifications, you will need a qualification recognition certificate in order to provide evidence that your credentials are formally recognised in Ireland. To apply for this certificate, contact Qualifications Recognition Ireland. Degrees from most Western countries are usually considered equivalent to Irish qualifications.

Work can be found through Recruitment agencies and a list of registered and reputable agencies can be found on the National Recruitment Federation (NRF) website. Alternatively you can apply on Indeed, Irish Jobs, LinkedIn and Facebook groups like Jobs in Ireland, Expats in Dublin and more.

How to find accommodation in Ireland is the best property resource in the country.

Read: Apps and websites you need to know before moving to Ireland

To apply for most things in Ireland,  you will need proof of address which can be found on utility bills like electricity, cable or WIFI. Proof of address is going to be a valuable piece of paper you will need to set up most things, so it’s important to sort out your living arrangements ASAP.

Grocery Shopping in Ireland

There is a range of supermarkets in Ireland, depending on whether you live in a city or country (rural areas) you will find a large variety of foods from countries like South Africa, UK and USA. I always got excited when I would purchase fruit and see “Made in South Africa” on the packaging 🙈. None of the supermarkets are open 24/7, most are open from 08:00am to 10:00pm.

Ireland passed a plastic bag tax in 2002. So unless you want to pay 50 cents for a bag, then remember to bring your own reusable shopping bag with you.

Where to buy food in Ireland:

  • Aldi
  • Dunnes Store
  • Lidl
  • Marks & Spencer (M&S)
  • Spar
  • SuperValu
  • Tesco

Tesco and Supervalu are the only stores that offer online shopping and home deliveries. The most expensive food is from Dunnes, Spar and M&S. SuperValu has amazing deals and my favorite was the section with international foods. Aldi always has great deals.

Suggested Reading: Where to find South African food in Ireland

Do you have any specific questions about moving to Ireland? Comment below and I will try to help

1 Comment

  • Isobella
    07/22/2019 at 10:49 PM

    My husbands company is opening a branch in ireland so we will have to follow. Just thinking of how to manage everything till we get settled.

    What is best to use as payment for when you get there as you can’t provide 6 months utility bills for a back account?

    How will the company pay his salary without a bank account?

    Thank you so much for the help.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.