So you’ve done it! You have your visa in hand and a flight booked. The songs of the Emerald Isle are calling to you and you’re ready to go. But the visa is just the beginning of many details to figure out when it comes to moving to Ireland on a working holiday. Now comes figuring out where you want to live, finding a flat, registering with immigration, opening a bank account, and most importantly, finding a job. But don’t worry – it may sound overwhelming, but it’s all in the name of adventure, right?
The best piece of advice I can give you is to take a deep breath. It feels overwhelming that you have to figure all of this out at once. But you will, and you’ll move to Ireland, and it will be grand. You’ll settle into a routine soon enough, and life will start to feel like normal again. Just stay focused on the goal. The details are all secondary.
|| Finding a Place to Live
Depending on where to live in Ireland, your experience finding housing will differ. But know that if you chose Dublin as many do, it will not be easy to find a place to live. Not to be a downer, but be realistic going into this – you will have to work hard to find housing. Dublin has a housing shortage and so it isn’t always easy to find apartments that are both affordable and available. But that shouldn’t scare you off – those who have gone before you are managing just fine! Just use extreme caution and your best judgement. Scammers exist, so listen to your instinct if you see red flags on listings.
Some great sites for searching available apartments or rooms for share are Rent.ie or Daft.ie. You can also register and match with room listings on Easy Roommate.
|| Or Finding the Program Right For You
If finding housing is too intimidating while you’re still state-side, there are some other options as well. Trust me, I feel that. I was worried about getting scammed and not being on the ground to see the apartment before putting money down or meeting potential roommates before signing up to live with strangers. There are programs that help provide housing for varying amounts of time, as well as make your transition smoother.
One is Stint Ireland – they provide services like helping get you settled (with a network of other expat gap years and interns), they provide you with insurance, and more in their program fee. The fee also includes eight weeks of housing. Someone will pick you up at the airport and you’ll have a bed for at least the first two months while you’re in Dublin, so you have some time to look for an apartment while on the ground. Or if you chose, once the eight weeks is up, you can stay in the house longer (for the full year even) – you just start paying rent monthly. Other programs like Work In Ireland provide one, three, or five nights (depending on the package chosen) in housing to get you on your feet.
While I had some reservations about the added cost, I ultimately chose to go through Stint Ireland as I was very anxious about signing on to housing before arriving in Ireland. Stint has provided me time to settle and start working before starting to look for a place for my own, which definitely made the process less stressful.
|| Immigration (GNIB) Appointment
First you’ll need to make and attend a Garda appointment with Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Services. Be sure to leave plenty of time in your day for this because despite having a scheduled appointment time, it can take a long time to get through everything. They hope to have you in and out in your appointment hour but I ended up being there for about two and a half hours, so I was grateful I didn’t have to rush back to work. Because of this, the closer you can book your appointment to your arrival date, the better. This way you can get it out of the way before you start working. Again, you can book your appointment up to ten weeks in advance here.
You will need to bring your passport and your visa with you to the appointment, as well as a way to show the email confirming your appointment. You will also need to pay a registration fee of €300, so budget for this in advance (you can pay via credit/debit card). It’s a lot like sitting at the DMV – you’ll get a number and when it’s finally your turn, you’ll approach the counter to have your documents looked over and have your picture taken. You’ll wait again until they scan your fingerprints. Finally they’ll give your passport back with your new residency card. And you’re free to go!
|| Finding a Job
Don’t be discouraged if you arrive in Ireland without a job lined up. I received the same response from several applications I sent in – let’s talk when you’re on the ground. Once you are physically in Ireland (bonus points – put your Irish address and a local Irish phone number on your resume), you’ll start having more luck. Still, the job market is competitive everywhere, so finding a job won’t happen right away.
The best advice I can give when it comes to finding work is what I was given. Temp work. Temp work has been a literal godsend because of how fast I was able to start working. Be proactive. I contacted two temp agencies. I attached my resume, introduced myself, and explained that I was here on a WHA visa seeking temp work. They contacted me back within days and brought me in to get officially registered. Within a week, I had my first placement.
Stay proactive – if you aren’t getting work, don’t be afraid to email them to let them know that you’re available. Another great thing about temp work is that it provides a lot of flexibility, so if you’re on a WHA visa to travel as much as you can in your spare time, this could be great for you. You can chose when you can’t work, so if you decide to take a week off or a long weekend here and there, you can. Or if you want to accept placements for two months and then take a month off to travel, you can.
And ultimately if you still want full-time resume-boosting work, keep looking! Temp work is just a great way to work until you land something more permanent.
Once you do start working, or once you meet with a temp agency, make sure to ask for a letter from your employer/agency that confirms your employment (and states you Irish address somewhere on it). You will need this for the next step.
|| Getting a PPS Number
Great! You are officially immigrated! Next, you will need to open a bank account with a local Irish bank. And in order to do that, you will first need a PPS number.
You’ll need to make an appointment. To do so, make an account on MyWelfare.ie. Then click on the purple box ‘appointments’. Choose to make a Personal Public Service (PPS) Number for yourself, and continue through to make your appointment. You can always reschedule if need be, but best to schedule this as soon as you can. As with your Garda appointment, you will have to wait in a queue, so leave time in your day for your appointment.
When you attend your appointment, you will need to bring a employment letter and your visa and passport. Make sure that the employment letter states your address while in Ireland and clearly states when you began working. If you are registered with a temp agency, you will need your letter to show the date of your first placement, so you will have to wait until you start working a placement to ask for a letter. It’s also best to have an Irish phone number set up by now, whether you get a local phone or are using a SIM card, as they will text you a code that you will need to confirm.
After your appointment, you will receive a letter at your address in about five business days with your shiny new PPS number on it. You’ll later receive an official card with your number on it in the mail as well.
|| Opening a Bank Account
Now that you have a PPS number, it’s time to check off the final big obstacle in settling down – opening a bank account. Money! No more foreign transaction fees!
I’ll recommend the bank that was recommended to me by other gap years – Permanent TSB.
Opening a bank is another process that will require specific documentation. You will need proof of identification (your Passport works) as well as very specific proof of address. The best way I can recommend doing this is to set up an account on revenue.ie as soon as possible. You will need to do this when working anyways. The bank will mail you your log-in password. This letter (which usually comes in about five business days) will work as your proof of address. If you aren’t paying utilities directly because you’re subleasing or you don’t have an official lease, etc. it can be hard to provide documentation that they’ll accept. They turned away my letter from my employer with my address on it, but they accepted my Revenue letter.
You can set up an appointment to open your account online. You’ll receive your new card in the mail a few days later!
|| Register with Revenue
Your final step in settling is to update your information on your Revenue.IE account. Revenue will then mail your password login so you can access your account online. You’ll need to register your employers – on MyAccount, click ‘add job or pension’. You will need to have your employer’s tax registration number. Be sure to ask for that from Payroll if it isn’t provided to you. You and your employer will be issued a tax credit certificate ensuring that the correct amount of tax is deducted for that job or pension. Before you do this, you will be on what’s known as ’emergency tax’ which will take a significant chunk out of your paycheck, so be sure to do this as soon as you can!
And that’s it! It’s a lot, but the sooner you get it done, the sooner you will finally feel settled – and that’s an incredibly rewarding feeling.
Stay tuned for Part III on my experience with the working holiday visa!