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Returning to Ireland with children requires extra preparation. This page provides an overview of some of the things you should think about when moving back with children under 18.

Passports

If you were born in Ireland and were an Irish citizen at the time of your child’s birth, they are automatically an Irish citizen no matter where they were born. You can apply for their Irish passport online. If possible, do this before travelling to Ireland so that your child can enter as an Irish citizen.

If your child will be travelling to Ireland on a passport issued by another country, make sure that you enter Ireland together. You will need your Irish passport and a copy of their birth certificate naming you as their parent to show to border control on arrival.

Prepare Documents

There are several key documents you and your child will need soon after arrival in Ireland. If possible, we recommend organising these prior to return and saving documents electronically, along with any original copies. Important documents include:

  • Child’s birth certificate
  • Marriage certificate (if applicable)
  • Naturalisation certificate (if applicable)
  • Medical records
  • Educational records
  • State-issued identification document for parent/guardian
  • Proof of guardianship (if applicable)
  • Consent from other legal guardians (if applicable)

PPS Numbers

Your child will need their own Personal Public Service (PPS) Number. A child born in Ireland may already have a PPS Number if their birth was registered. If you cannot find your child’s PPS Number, contact Client Identity Services via email at cis@welfare.ie or phone at +353 (0)71 967 2616 or +353 (0)81 892 7999.

If you need to apply for a PPS Number for your child, we recommend that you apply as soon as possible as this process can take some time.

Apply for a PPS

Child-Related Income Supports

Child Benefit

Child Benefit is a monthly universal payment of €140 per child available to parents or guardians of children under the age of 16 (or under 18 in certain cases). To qualify, you will need to meet the Habitual Residence Condition (HRC) – read here for more details. You can apply for Child Benefit payments as soon as you each have PPS Numbers and an Irish address (if staying with family or friends, a utility bill in their name with a letter from them confirming your residence with them should suffice). You should apply for Child Benefit as soon as possible on return to Ireland. The application is made by the child’s mother or step-mother, unless the child does not live with them (see Citizens Information for more). For more information and application instructions, go to the Department of Social Protection website.

Other Supports

Depending on your income, previous social insurance contributions, and family situation, you may qualify for other supports. To learn more about available family supports (such as Family Income Supplement, Maternity/Paternity Benefit, Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance), visit the Citizens Information website. Please contact us if you have specific questions on what social welfare payments may be available to your family.

Healthcare

Children under the age of eight are eligible for GP Visit Cards, which allow them to see participating doctors (general practitioners) for free. To register, your child must have a PPS Number. For more information, visit the Citizen’s Information healthcare page.

Having a Baby

If you are returning to Ireland to live and you plan to have a baby, you will be entitled to public health maternity care under the Maternity and Infant Care Scheme based on your residency (if you have been living in Ireland for at least a year or plan to live in Ireland for at least a year).

If you are pregnant while in employment, you are entitled to maternity leave. Depending on your level of Pay Related Social Insurance (PRSI) contributions, you may also be entitled to Maternity Benefit while on leave. If you do not have enough PRSI contributions from your employment in Ireland, you may be able to use social insurance contributions paid in a country covered by EU Regulations and the UK. You must be in insurable employment in Ireland and have paid your most recent PRSI contribution in Ireland.

For more information regarding having a baby upon return to Ireland, visit Citizens Information’s ‘Returning to Ireland and Having a Baby’ page.

Childcare

Research and consider the best childcare options based on you and your family’s needs. Keep in mind that available childcare services and costs in Ireland vary by location.

Be aware that securing a childcare place can take a long time, and that many crèche providers operate waiting lists. Starting the process of finding childcare early is therefore strongly advised. This 2022 Irish Independent article offers some useful information for your search.

Childcare Supports

The National Childcare Scheme (NCS) provides financial support toward early learning and childcare costs. This includes two subsidies:

  1. A universal subsidy which is not means-tested and offers €1.40 per hour up to 45 hours a week
  2. An income-assessed subsidy which is calculated based on your family’s individual circumstances

If you have a child of preschool age, you could also avail of the Early Childhood Care and Education Scheme.

Visit the Citizens Information website for more information.

Education

School

If your children are of school age, begin your research on the Irish education system as soon as possible – even if you have completed your education in Ireland. Some programmes may have changed. The Citizens Information website provides a comprehensive overview of the Irish education system to get you started.

We recommend beginning the application process for a school places well in advance of your return. You can find schools on the Department of Education’s website.

Third-Level

Children of Irish emigrants who have spent at least five years in school (primary or secondary) in Ireland may be eligible for the EU rate of fees for undergraduate study in Ireland. See the Department of Education website or contact the relevant university/college/institute for more information.

Education

Helping Children Adjust

Involve your children in the planning. Include them in the conversation about planning your move to Ireland. It can make it more exciting and reduce some of the anxiety kids (particularly older kids) may experience.

Children may experience different emotions such as anxiety, loss, fear, sadness, or confusion and they need a space to be able to speak about their concerns. Listen to their concerns—they are valid and need to be addressed.

Bring familiar and comforting items (such as food, blankets, toys, water bottles) so that there is a sense of home on arrival. Try to establish a familiar routine as soon as possible on return.

Build Your Network

It can be helpful to join clubs, groups, or organisations upon your return to Ireland where you can meet new friends and make new connections in your local area. Local playgroups and parents’ groups can be a great way to meet other parents and can  help you to feel settled. Remember that it takes time to adjust, so do try to be gentle with yourself.

For an overview of what to consider and prepare when returning with children, watch our December 2022 webinar.

Page last updated on 12 February, 2024

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