European Union (EU) citizens thinking of moving to Ireland, either temporarily or permanently, can enjoy the famous “four freedoms” set out in the Treaty of Rome, namely the free movement of persons, goods, services and capital within the EU. The rights of EU citizens in Ireland are established and guaranteed.
Fifty-two percent of British voters may have disagreed, but being a citizen of the European Union (EU) can be a pretty wonderful thing. With EU citizen status, you can move to and work in any EU member state without having to become eligible for, and apply to, an immigration program, a process that can take time, effort and money. Citizens of non-EU/EEA countries typically have to complete such a process before establishing themselves in an EU state, and moving to Ireland is no different in that regard.
Let’s look at the four freedoms in more detail.
Free movement of persons
Citizens of the United Kingdom (UK) are entitled to live in Ireland without any conditions or restrictions.
EU citizens, as well as citizens of Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland are entitled to come to Ireland to take up employment or self-employment without first obtaining an Employment Permit. Such persons and their family members have the right to come to Ireland for three months with no conditions attached under the European Communities (Free Movement of Persons) Regulations 2015, which implement an EU Directive on the free movement of persons.
You then have the right of residence in Ireland for longer than three months if:
- You are employed or self-employed; or
- You have enough resources so that you and your dependants do not become a burden on the social assistance system and you have health insurance; or
- You are a student, you can maintain yourself, you have a place in an educational institution and you have health insurance; or
- Be a family member of an EU/EEA citizen in one of the previous categories.
When you come to Ireland you do not need to register with the local immigration officer and you do not need a residence card. You may choose to register with the embassy of your country in Ireland if you want to have a record of your residence in Ireland.
EU/EEA nationals working in Ireland are entitled to the same rights as Irish citizens with regard to social welfare, employment rights and social rights. Newcomers to Ireland who are citizens of another EU/EEA state or Switzerland should register for tax and social insurance by applying for a Personal Public Service (PPS) number.
EU/EEA nationals posted to Ireland by their employer on a temporary basis are entitled to the equivalent of medical card services. EU/EEA nationals who are employed or self-employed and staying on a permanent basis are affected by the same rules for entitlement to health services as Irish nationals generally, including needing to pass a means test if they want to obtain a medical card.
Learn more about healthcare in Ireland.
Rights of EU citizens: Free movement of goods
If you are coming to Ireland with an eye towards business opportunities, this fundamental freedom will help.
Initially seen as part of a customs union between EU member states, involving the abolition of customs duties, quantitative restrictions on trade and equivalent measures, and the establishment of a common external tariff, the emphasis has more recently focused on eliminating all remaining obstacles to free movement of goods with a view to creating the internal market — an area without internal borders, in which goods could move as freely as on a national market.
The rationale of an open market throughout the EU has been to assist economic growth and competitiveness with the goal of increasing employment and prosperity across member states.