If you are thinking of retiring in Ireland, there is a great deal of information that you will need to take on board before making the final decision to do so.
Only people fitting certain criteria will be allowed to retire in Ireland. Factors that will be considered include your nationality and your individual personal circumstances.
Repatriation – Returning Home to Ireland
Irish citizens who plan to return to Ireland from elsewhere have the automatic right to reside there.
In addition, citizens of the UK are permitted to live in Ireland without the imposition of any restrictions or other conditions.
Settlement Rules for EEA Nationals
Nationals and their families from EEA countries and Switzerland also have the right to stay or retire in Ireland with some caveats. If you are from the EEA or Switzerland, you can stay for up to three months in Ireland without any restrictions.
However, if you have retired and are planning to stay for over three months, you will be required to demonstrate that you are either self-employed or employed or that you have enough money and insurance cover to rule out the possibility that you could become dependent on the state.
If you are not an EEA (or Swiss) national, you must seek and be granted permission to remain in the country if you plan to remain for three months or longer.
If you are planning to retire to Ireland for good, you will be called upon to demonstrate that you have the necessary resources to support yourself.
You will also need to get permission to remain in Ireland from your designated immigration registration officer after you arrive in the country.
Become an Irish Citizen by Naturalisation
Every year, a number of US citizens make the decision to retire to Ireland. You can apply to become an Irish citizen if you, your parents or your grandparents were born in Ireland.
If this isn’t applicable, you will need to apply for permission to remain after you have been in the country for three months.
This will normally be granted if you are able to demonstrate that you are not dependent on the state.
You will need to renew your permission to remain every year until you have been resident for five years.
After that, you may be granted a five-year permission to stay. After ten years, you may be able to apply for permission to stay in Ireland on a permanent basis.
The Irish Property Market
People are often surprised at just how expensive some types of housing are in Ireland, whether you intend to buy or are planning to rent.
If you do want to get on the property ladder in Ireland, you will need to have a clear understanding of the home-buying process.
There is a significant difference between buying in Dublin and more rural areas. Prices are soaring in Dublin, and you will be looking at $400,000 plus for a decent city property.
Conversely, there are bargains to be had in some more rural areas.
It makes sense to do some in-depth initial research before you set your heart on moving to a certain area of the country.
One piece of good news is that there are no restrictions on the rental or purchase of residential land or property.
If you decide to rent, you will find that there is a good variety of properties on the market, including apartments, flats and houses.
Some older Irish-born immigrants may be eligible to apply to rent under Ireland’s ‘Safe-Home’ programme.
If you are planning to bring a pet over to Ireland when you retire, you will need to meet a strict set of criteria, and it would be well worth your while to look into this well ahead of time.
National Healthcare Services in Ireland
Residents of Ireland are entitled to a number of healthcare services provided by the government.
These can either be completely free of charge or may be available at a subsidised cost. If you are planning to retire to Ireland, it is essential that you research your entitlements to healthcare provision.
These will be largely dependent on your income; if it is low you may be issued with a card entitling you to some free services, including GP (General Practitioner) visits.
If you opt to go down the private healthcare route, you will need to take out sufficient insurance to cover the costs, or pay upfront.
If you are normally resident in the country, you will be entitled to identical private health insurance benefits as any other citizen.
Bear in mind that your premium for private health insurance will have tax relief applied at the standard (20%) rate.
If you hope to retire to Ireland, you may, depending on your financial circumstances, need to investigate how the social security system works, as this could be quite different to what you are used to in your home country.
Note that you will need to be a resident before you can apply for or be granted any social assistance payments.
Retiring in Ireland and Drawing Your Pension
The majority of long-term pensions from other countries (including widow and old-age pensions) can be accessed by you when you retire in Ireland.
If you have been employed in more than one EEA/EU country or in a country with which Ireland has entered into a Bilateral Social Security Agreement, then you will be able to apply to see whether or not you meet the criteria for a pension from each country.
If you are in receipt of a pension under either a Bilateral Agreement or the EU Regulations, you qualify for what is known as a Household Benefits Package.
The Irish Taxation System
Taxation is another important issue that you will need to consider when planning on retiring in Ireland, including the tax implications of residency and how your pension will be taxed under Irish law.
Some people may be entitled to some forms of tax relief, including on some medical provision, if they are aged sixty-five or older.
If you are retired but are planning to take up some form of paid employment after you retire to Ireland, you need to be aware that you may not be able to gain permission to do so.
Always check before accepting any offer of employment. Most of the legislation that deals with the protection of workers in Ireland doesn’t have any upper age limit.
This means that if you do choose to work in retirement, you will be subject to the same employment laws as any other employee.
Driving Licence for Ireland
If you intend to drive in Ireland during your retirement, you should note that full driving licences from EU members (and a number of additional countries) are recognised in Ireland.
American citizens are allowed to drive in Ireland for up to twelve months.
If your stay is to exceed twelve months, and you have fulfilled all the relevant passport and visas criteria, you will be entitled to submit an application for an Irish driving licence. However, you will be required to submit to the normal licensing procedure – i.e. pass the driver theory test, apply for a provisional licence and then pass your test.
All first-time applicants for a provisional licence (including students, those past the age of retirement and those working in Ireland) are required to pass a sight test.
Free Public Rail and Bus Transport
Retiring in Ireland is not terribly difficult especially if you already have ancestral roots or family living there.
One piece of good news is that if you are of retirement age (sixty-five years plus), hold the required passport and visas and you are residing permanently or retiring in Ireland, you will be entitled to free public rail and bus transport.