Hello again and welcome to the second post about moving to Ireland! This time we have compiled some information and our own anecdotal experience about going through immigration and registering as aliens in Ireland. I know a lot of you have wondered, but we can now confirm that, yes, Rachel is ET… In all serious though, many countries have a registration process for migrant foreigners. It can see a little strange and daunting, I know. Never fear, we’re here to help!
// Are you an ALIEN?
If you’re from outside the EEA and want to remain in Ireland longer than 90 days, you must firstly have a visa allowing you to do so, and then register with the Garda National Immigration Bureau in the county you’ve settled in. For this post, we’re going to assume you already have permission to enter Ireland.
Check out this post we wrote about the Working Holiday Visa for Ireland.
// Arriving in Ireland
Most people arrive in Ireland through Dublin Airport. Passport control here is currently operated by the GNIB (Garda National Immigration Bureau). Their staff will ask you about your plans in Ireland so have your documents ready. In my case, I handed over the working holiday authorisation I’d picked up back in New Zealand. At this stage, it is important that you carry all your supporting documentation in your hand luggage (just in case). So, in my passport holder, I also held my evidence of an onward flight for 8 months down the track and a bank statement. Hopefully, you have a nice officer! It’s a very straightforward conversation – just be honest.
If you’ve arrived in Ireland from a visa-waiver country you will have 90 days to register at your local GNIB office to obtain any relevant visa stamps (such as the right to work) and your alien registration card, known locally as a GNIB card. This allows you time to set up your new life: meet with pre-arranged employment, find an address, that sort of thing.
You can also enter Ireland by ship or ferry – normally from the UK or France unless you’re on a cruise. Remember to bring your passport on theses journies as they will definitely be checked on the Ireland/France routes. Mine was not requested when coming into Dublin from Holyhead, but that does not mean Irish officials could not have asked to see it. If your passport is not stamped, retain your ticket. This will be evidence of your entry date into Ireland and you may need to show it when you register for your GNIB card or your visa later on.
There is currently no hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Who knows what Brexit has in store, but for now we will run with the current state of things.
You can pass freely over the border by car, bus, train or heck, you can walk if you really want. There’s no fence, no queues and no immigration officials. I have heard stories about Irish Garda (the equivalent of police) hopping on buses and checking the immigration status of passengers, but this has never happened on any of my (MANY) journies between the North and South (**happened to me on the 28th June 2017 en route to Dublin Airport – remember those passports, peeps).
Still, it is your responsibility to ensure you are on the right side of immigration law in both the UK and Republic of Ireland. Once across the border, Gardaí have the right to ask you to prove your identity and immigration status. If you’re from a visa required country and don’t have one you could get put on the first bus back North. Not to mention the hurt a deportation order will cause to your ability to enter not only the Republic of Ireland again, but also other countries that have character requirements.
Retain any bus or train tickets you have, just as you would ferry tickets and boarding passes.
// Finding your local GNIB
Now you have arrived in Ireland and cleared border control you can set about finding your local Garda station to register. If you plan to settle in Dublin the process is a tad different from the other counties simply because it is so busy! We’ve outlined a bit about both below.
Booking an appointment in Dublin
Registration for those in the greater Dublin area is administered by the Irish Nationalisation and Immigration Service (INIS). The office in Dublin is open to registration by appointment only and you can set this up online. Previously you needed to get to the office at 6 am – three hours or more before they opened at 9 am – and queue in the cold, the rain and on the street in the hopes of getting in. I have done this: it was a nightmare. Demand for immigration services in Dublin is HUGE so it may be worth booking your appointment before you travel to Ireland. You can book your appointment up to 10 weeks in advance – handy!
Outside of Dublin…
Outside of Dublin, you will need to find your local Garda Station. I decided to settle in County Kerry and my nearest office was in the town of Killarney. I strolled over one morning and found a piece of A4 paper taped to the door with the times the immigration officer was in (only a few days of the week and for fixed times). To find your nearest station, click this link.
Receiving a GNIB card and Visa Stamps
In both circumstances you will be assessed against the criteria for your visa and, if you meet it, given the appropriate visa stamp. For the Working Holiday this will be a Stamp 1. Immediately afterwards you will have your photo taken and your GNIB card will be printed soon after. You will walk away with it in your hand (at least I did back in 2012). The process does come with an additional cost. Even if you have paid for an authorization before arriving in Ireland you are still subject to the €300 fee – so be sure to bring cash or a bank card with you!
There are currently 10 types of visa stamp issued. For more information, visit the INIS website. Here are some of the main visa stamps issued in Ireland:
Stamp 1 | Permission to work or operate a business in Ireland, subject to conditions. This is the stamp issued to Working Holiday Authorisation holders.
Stamp 2 | Essentially the ‘student visa’ stamp. Variations are issued for either approved or unapproved courses and are subject to visa conditions.
Stamp 4 | This stamp gives the holder permission to remain in Ireland under certain conditions. It allows the holder to work and is the stamp usually given our to spouses of Irish nationals – amongst of other circumstances.
Stamp 5 | Permission to remain in Ireland without limitations. This is effectively ‘permanent residence’ and the stamp is issued for the validity of the holder’s passport.
// Best Places for More Information
Last Updated: 02 May 2017 – Although we try to keep the information on this page up to date, please ensure you check your local Irish embassy or with the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service for the most current immigration information. The Celt & Kiwi are not immigration advisors or lawyers, but mentors and coaches. This post is intended to present general guidance on the immigration process for Ireland and that advice may not be suitable for all circumstances. Your own immigration requirements may differ.