“What could I expect if I went to live in Ireland for long-term period of time – at least a year and probably longer? Two of my grandparents are Irish, and I’ve taken many trips there. Would I be eligible for things like jobs and health insurance, which I understand is standard for everyone in Ireland? What would I have to do to establish residency in Ireland?”
You could expect an Ireland that in many ways resembles the one you’ve undoubtedly encountered on your many trips – beautiful and welcoming – but one that is also beset with many modern day problems, such as a collapsing economy and high unemployment.
As you have at least one grandparent who is an Irish citizen, you will be able to acquire Irish citizenship through this link, if you haven’t already done so. It’s vital that you secure Irish citizenship prior to your move, because as a citizen you’ll be entitled to legally live and work in Ireland.
(For more information on how to secure Irish citizenship through a grandparent, visit the Irish Embassy’s website at www.embassyofireland.org. It’s a fairly involved process in that applicants must provide items such as birth and marriage certificates. The website gives information on how to obtain these documents from the appropriate office in Ireland.)
As a citizen of Ireland – an Irish passport also entitles the holder to valuable citizenship of the European Union, which means freedom to work and travel in the EU member states – you can work in Ireland at any job that is offered to you. As mentioned above, Ireland is experiencing high unemployment at the present time, so your prospects might not be all that great. You should check the employment ads on the websites of The Irish Times and the Irish Independent to get an idea of what’s available.
As far as health insurance in Ireland goes, yes, most people are covered in some way, shape or form as part of the government-run health care program, but availing of benefits isn’t as simple as just signing up.
In your case, in order to be eligible for benefits you would have to show that you are resident in Ireland and intend to live there for at least a year. This could be done by providing, for example, a lease on a place to live. You would also have to prove legal residency in Ireland, which you could do by showing your Irish passport.
Once the Health Service Executive (HSE) accepts that you are a resident of Ireland, you will be entitled to either full benefits in the form of a medical card, or limited benefits. The benefit levels are means tested.
Though Irish citizens are covered through HSE programs, those who can afford to also take out private insurance plans. Why? Because the care provided under those plans is often better and delivered in a much more timely fashion.
We’ve described how you can establish residency in Ireland above. Another important item you’ll be able to apply for once in Ireland is the Personal Public Service (PPS) number.
This number is akin to our Social Security number, and it serves as a reference number that helps to you to gain access to social welfare benefits, public services and information in the country. The number can be applied for at the local social welfare office in the place where you choose to live.
An excellent Irish-government website that will help you navigate the ins and outs of your move to Ireland is www.citizensinformation.ie. It provides information on a wide variety of topics in addition to the ones we’ve discussed in this column, including taxation and the Irish social welfare system.