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Arriving in a new country can be exciting and occasionally overwhelming. Whether you have moved for a short time to work abroad for a season or for a longer period, here are some useful tips to help you get started.

Staying Safe and Emergency Precautions

No matter where you land, your health and safety should be your top priority. Visit the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) website, Ireland.ie, for general safety tips and destination-specific travel advice. Here you will also find specialised safety tips for travelling with children and LGBTQI+ guidance. Some areas might be unsafe, particularly at night, so keep this in mind when choosing where to stay or live – getting advice locally can be helpful in this regard. Stay alert for scammers or pickpockets, especially in crowded areas.

If you need assistance abroad, contact relevant local emergency services and/or the Irish embassy or consulate. Save these details in advance so you can access them easily in case of an emergency. It can also be helpful to share your location or itinerary with a trusted family member or friend, and carry an emergency contact card (or input these details into your mobile phone).

The DFA strongly encourages Irish citizens travelling or living overseas to register their contact details in the Citizens Register, especially if travelling to a remote or higher-risk destination. While registration is voluntary, this information will allow the DFA to contact you, and provide assistance, if necessary and possible, if there is an unforeseen crisis such as a natural disaster or civil unrest, or if you have a family emergency while you are overseas. For Irish citizens resident overseas, registration means that the nearest Irish embassy or consulate to where you reside is aware of your whereabouts and can include you in their contingency planning in the event of a crisis or an emergency situation.

Mental Health

Moving to a new place can be stressful and overwhelming, so make sure to put time aside for self-care. You might find yourself feeling lonely and isolated, which is normal and nothing to be ashamed of. Reach out to friends and family for extra support, and check in on your mental health regularly. For helpful information on how to look after your mental health and support resources while living abroad, see our guide on minding yourself here. The DFA’s Mental Health and Travel page on Ireland.ie is also a good source of information, tips, and support.

Paperwork

Upon arrival, there are several administrative tasks you will need to do to help you get set up in your new home. This varies from place to place, but usually involves the following:

  • Getting a local sim card or mobile phone contract
  • Registering as a new resident or for immigration permission as relevant
  • Registering for a personal tax number (akin to a PPS Number in Ireland)
  • Opening a bank account and transferring funds from Ireland
  • Registering with a doctor or healthcare provider and signing up for local health insurance as relevant
  • Registering with local services and signing up for any entitlements you might have (like state-provided health care etc.)
  • Getting a local driving licence if you are going to be there longer term

Accommodation

You will probably spend your first couple of weeks looking for a place to live. It is a good idea to do some basic research to know your rights as a tenant. In some countries, bills are included as part of the rent, while in others (like Ireland) bills are separate. The same goes for furniture, which may not be included as standard so you may need to buy your own.

Once you have found somewhere to live, in many cases you will have to sign a contract and pay your first month’s rent along with a security deposit (usually one to two months’ rent though this may be more in some countries). You should ask the landlord to keep your deposit in a special bank account where both you and the landlord are holders (in some countries, this is required by law). Be aware of scams and do not hand over any money before viewing the place and getting a valid tenancy agreement (lease).

Employment

It can take time to find employment when you first arrive in a new country, so it is best to start the process of searching as soon as possible. Use local employment websites or global ones like LinkedIn to source job opportunities, reach out to people working in your chosen field, and contact Irish organisations abroad for advice on finding a job. Irish Facebook groups, some of which can be found in our directory, can also be great resources for finding job opportunities within the Irish community. Be proactive and do not be discouraged if you are finding the process difficult or are facing rejection.

Local Laws and Customs

The understanding of polite behaviour varies from place to place. To avoid being unintentionally rude, learn the local rules of etiquette – for instance, in some countries, being late or wearing  shoes in another person’s home is considered disrespectful. Similarly, there might be different laws about how to act in public, such as whether drinking is permitted or not.

The best way to avoid offence is to inform yourself of local customs as part of your research into the country you have moved to – read more about local laws and customs in this guide by the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Getting Around

A good way to get to know your new home is to avail of public transport so check your options in terms of travel passes as these can offer savings on multiple journeys. If you plan on driving, you might need to exchange your licence or apply for an , but if you stay within the European Union, you can drive with your full Irish driving licence. For more details on driving abroad with an Irish licence and qualifying countries you can exchange your Irish licence in, visit the National Driving Licence Service website here.

Meeting People

It can take a while to settle in and make connections, so try to be patient and do not rush this part! The easiest way to meet new people is through a local. Reach out to your contacts to see if they know anyone living nearby, and ask them to show you around. Join a Facebook group for ‘expats’ to meet up with others who are new in town, and find like-minded people by going to MeetUps or joining social groups such as sport, music, writing, etc. Look up any local Irish contacts like support organisations, GAA clubs, business networks, and more.

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