Before You Go

To make planning your big move abroad easier, we’ve put together these 7 tips based on what other Irish emigrants have told us about their emigration experiences:

1. Be prepared

Do your research and find out if you need a visa or a work permit where you are going. Check that your professional and educational qualifications will be recognised in the country you plan to relocate to.

If possible, try to arrange work before you go as this can make for an easier transition. Arrange accommodation in advance, even if it’s short term, and be sure to look into the availability of housing. If you plan on renting, it’s helpful to have some idea what you’ll be expected to pay up front (e.g. a month of rent up front, plus a deposit equivalent to one month of rent).

Find out if you’ll be able to use your Irish driving licence and for how long, or if you’ll need an International Driving Permit.

If you’re going to a non-English speaking country, learn at least a few words of the local language and get clued in on local do’s and dont’s.

As sometimes even the best laid plans can go wrong, buy a return ticket just in case things don’t work out. Some countries may not admit you without a return ticket.

If you are going backpacking, read the Department of Foreign Affairs guide to backpacking and adventure tourism. Also always check the Department of Foreign Affairs travel advice for the country you plan to  travel to and their helpful ‘Know before you go’ information.

2. Bring your essential documents

Make sure you have a valid passport, your birth certificate (or at least a copy of it), your driving licence and the appropriate visa if required. You may also need an up-to-date Police Certificate showing that you do not have any criminal convictions. Consider getting a Passport Card as a secondary form of identification.

If you’re going to be looking for work, bring proof of your qualifications and references from your previous employers along with your up to date CV. If you’re going to be renting, bring references from landlords with you.

Depending on your marital status, bring copies of your marriage and/or divorce certificate. If you are travelling with children, have copies of their important documents as well. You may also need a letter of consent from their other parent/guardian to take them out of the country if you are separated and share guardianship rights.

If you became an Irish citizen by naturalisation you’ll need to register annually to make sure you retain your Irish citizenship while you’re abroad. Download and complete Form 5 from the Immigration Service then send it by email to

Make copies of all your important documents and save them to your email.

3. Money matters

It might sound obvious but setting up in a new country can be expensive, especially if you’re not moving over with a job or something unexpected happens. Make sure you have enough money to support yourself and try to have an idea of the cost of living where you are going.

Find out if you can use your Irish bank cards in your chosen destination. Ask your bank and make sure you let them know before you go. Try to use cards rather than cash but have a small amount of cash in the local currency just in case. It might also be useful to have electronic copies of your recent bank statements. You could also consider getting details of your personal credit history before you go.

If you have been getting Jobseeker’s Benefit in Ireland for at least 4 weeks, you may be able to continue receiving this while you looking for work in another EU country (or the UK) for up to 13 weeks. To do this, contact your local Intreo Centre / Social Welfare Office at least 4 weeks before you plan to leave Ireland and ask for a completed Form U2 (formerly Form E303). You must then bring this form to the social services office of the country you are travelling to and register with the unemployment services there within seven days of your arrival. Your Jobseeker’s Benefit will be paid directly to you at the same rate as it was paid in Ireland. For information on this and other social welfare payments that you may be able to continue getting whilst abroad, visit the Citizens Information website or contact the office that issues your payment.

If you think you might need to claim benefits in the country you are moving to, you should bring details of your Irish social insurance record. You can do this by requesting forms U1 (formerly E301) and E104 from the Department of Social Protection before you leave Ireland. Your eligibility to receive benefits will depend on the rules in your destination country, on what agreements that country has with Ireland, and on the type of assistance you need. To avoid a situation where you are refused this sort of assistance, do your research and look into this in detail before you leave.

4. Get travel and medical insurance

Make sure you get travel insurance before you go. It’s also worth getting medical / health insurance as you may not be covered by the healthcare system in your chosen country with out it.

Find out if there is a reciprocal healthcare agreement between Ireland and the country you are moving to, as you may be able to access certain health supports if so. You can usually check this with the local Irish Embassy in the country you are going to.

If you are going to visit another EU country on a short break, you can also get a European Health Insurance Card from your local Health Office before you go. See for details.

5. Have some contacts where you are going

Bring any contacts you have on accommodation and jobs, as well family or friends in your country of destination. Emailing these contacts to yourself is a good way to keep them safe. For peace of mind, leave a copy of your planned itinerary with family or friends in Ireland. It’s also always a good idea to have a list of emergency contacts with you, including contacts for your next of kin.

Look up any local Irish contacts like support organisations, GAA clubs, business networks etc. Also make sure you have contact details for your nearest Irish Embassy or Consulate in case you need help while you’re away.

Don’t forget to register your contact details with the Department of Foreign Affairs through their Citizens Registration portal.

6. Don’t travel without…

  • A valid passport and at least one other form of photo ID
  • An entry or work visa if it is required (without this you could face detention or even deportation in some countries)
  • Medical prescriptions and records if you need regular medication or have an existing medical condition
  • Relevant immunization certificates including your EU Digital COVID certificate and your International Certificate of Vaccination along with getting any vaccinations required by your destination country

7. Remember…

Give yourself time to adjust, things will be different to Ireland and this is all part of the experience. Mind yourself and read these #3thingstoknow to mind how you go.

For more information about moving abroad contact us by phone at 01 873 2844 or by email at You can also listen back to our interview on ‘How to Emigrate‘ with Sean Moncrieff on Newstalk (31.08.2022).


Page last updated 29 August 2022