That Time I Went Through Immigration

**Please be aware that this is simply my experience of going through Immigration in Ireland in 2012 (so quite a long time ago!) You will need to check the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website for up to date information on legislation, processing, and pricing. I’m not an immigraiton advisor or lawyer so I can’t help you with your specific situations. You’ll get the best advice by approaching the department or your local embassy/consulates directly.***

It’s a rainy old day in Ireland and I’m plodding about the kitchen in my boyfriend’s hoodie (because I like it more than mine). I’m also reminiscing about coming to Ireland seven months ago this Wednesday.

Still, it seems like yesterday that I was going through the immigration process. As soon as you get off the plane at Dublin Airport it begins. Dun, dun, dun! You see the signs in English and Gaelic, following them around until you’re met with the booths and queues that can only mean on thing:


You will get your passport stamped here, but you are not allowed to work under its conditions unless you subsequently register your Working Holiday at a Garda Immigration Office. The immigration officer will ask you about your travel plans and give you contact details for the Garda nearest you. So you won’t need to worry about locating the local Garda Station on your own. Hopefully you won’t get the officer with the bad attitude, as I did, and everything will be lovely!


Customs is a real non-event by comparison to my homeland of New Zealand. If you’ve nothing to declare then just proceed straight through the green path unharrassed. Coming from New Zealand this was incredibly unexpected! I am used to queuing, filling out forms, X-raying your bags again, sniffer dogs, the acronym MAF, and allowing at least 30 minutes for the process unless you hold a local passport. That doesn’t happen in Ireland. All you have to do after passing through the immigration station (heh rhyme) is grab your bags and go!

I stepped out into the lunch time sun with wide eyes and followed the signs for the bus to town. I took the Air Coach for €7. The driver tried to help me out, but I had no idea where I was going. I just asked him to “Take me to town” and, well, he did! Ha! Fortunately I had a map and a vague idea of where I wanted to be. I found a hostel, booked some nights and some tours and never looked back.

I should also mention a bit about the registration process. Some countries require aliens to register with the local police or an immigration registry office. New Zealand doesn’t have a system like that, nor had any country I’d lived in on my own, so this was all new to me.


Who needs to register?

Those who are not citizens of the EU (European Union) or the EEA (European Economic Area), or Switzerland who wish to remain in Ireland for longer than 3 months. You must have already passed through immigration at the airport and be in possession of the relevant visa or visa authorisation you need as per Ireland’s immigration laws/policies. There are exclusions though so check out the links at the bottom of the page to see if you need to register.

What do I have to do?

Within two weeks of your arrival in the county you’re setting up house in you are required to register with the local Garda and get your Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) Card. You must apply to the immigration office within its hours of operation. In Killarney, the office was only open during certain hours and certain days. A sheet of paper was tapped to the door at the beginning of each week so I had to wander up and check (no kidding, with sticky tape and all!). The hours for the Dublin office are longer and are available online. Try to get there as early as possible. Even in the smaller towns you’ll be surprised how the queues will appear!

You will have your finger prints (biometric data) taken as well as your photograph. Check out the Citizen Information page here for the current rules 🙂 it’s important to do this because there are some very specific documents you need to take with you!

They may ask for a Personal Public Service Number (PPSN), as I was, just politely remind the officer that you require a GNIB card in order to apply for the PPSN. The PPSN is the equivalent to a tax number. Things can get a bit tricky between opening your bank account, acquiring a PPSN and GNIB card. I was often told that one needed the other in a big complex circle.

This is the order that worked for me:

  1. GNIB Card
  2. PPSN
  3. Bank Account

The process took about two weeks.

Does it cost?

There is a one off fee for the registration. This is payable in EFTPOS/Laser/Debit or Credit card. It cannot be paid for in cash. This is also waivered in certain circumstances, so do check. (Please check the website for up to date pricing).

What next?

Whenever you re-enter Ireland you must produce this card along with your passport. Keep it with you because Gardaí can ask you to present it.


Registration of Non-EEA nationals in Ireland (Citizens Information)
Registration and renewal of Garda National Immigration Bureau Cards (An Garda Síochána)


6 thoughts on “That Time I Went Through Immigration

  1. Pingback: My Irish Working Holiday | Rachel in Ireland

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