5 Things Americans should know about moving to Ireland

Protestors with a hand-lettered sign reading: GIRLS JUST WANNA HAVE FUN-DAMENTAL RIGHTS
Women’s March, Jan 2017
Distant mountains, lake, in the foreground autumn trees changing color
A man holds a toddler’s hand on a beach
Spouse and offspring on the beach
Rainbow ending in a shopping area parking lot
So many rainbows!
  1. PPSN — this is like an SSN. When I first arrived, I was told that I didn’t need one, but I did. Everything from going to the doctor, to attending school, to buying a car requires a PPSN. Apply for one IMMEDIATELY. Get a local GP to write you a note saying you require one for medical care.
  2. Drive on the LEFT — Don’t try to import a car. It’s cheaper to get one here (although still not cheap) than to retrofit a drive-on-the-right car.
Statue of former US president Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama
Barack Obama Plaza in Moneygall, Ireland
  1. Driver’s License — As a non-EU person, Americans can use their US driver’s license for only a year, but it takes almost that long to get an Irish driver’s license because you have to do everything as if you had never driven before. Study and take a written test, take behind-the-wheel lessons, wait 6 months (yes, six!) while you ‘learn’ to drive, then take the road test before you get your license.
  2. Proof of address — EVERYTHING in Ireland requires that you prove your residence. Getting a bank account, applying for a PPSN (see #1) going to school, getting a driver’s license, any and all government paperwork. Plus, often places won’t accept a lease; only a utility bill will do. But how to do this if you’re only renting or are staying in temporary lodging while getting settled? Many places rely on heating oil. You can have some delivered and get a bill for this even if you’re only staying there for a short time. Sorry, but this is a truly annoying feature of life in Ireland. Once you get a bill KEEP IT. You will need it again. Trust me.
  3. Don’t move to Dublin — Dublin is a beautiful, historic, wonderful place but most people can’t afford to live there. If you’re a city person, try Cork (Ireland’s second city), Limerick, or Galway. Belfast is in Northern Ireland, which is technically part of the UK, not part of the EU since Brexit, so be aware of that.
Christ Church Cathedral and street in Dublin on a cloudy day.
Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin




M. K. Martin is an author and editor. She’s a motorcycle-riding linguistics nerd with a deep love of tea.

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M. K. Martin

M. K. Martin

M. K. Martin is an author and editor. She’s a motorcycle-riding linguistics nerd with a deep love of tea.

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