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Doing Business in Ireland

Many expats have been attracted by life in Ireland, especially during the era of the “Celtic Tiger”. While the nation has severely felt the effects of the recession, there are still some possibilities for expats. Read more about the economy and business culture on InterNations!
The crisis made it hard for expats to gain a foothold.

A Tightening of Expat Employment Rules

As an effect of the economic crisis and the rise in unemployment that followed in its wake, the Irish government altered their policies in regards to immigrant workers. The most important change is the extension of the labor market needs test in June 2009. The objective of this test is to ensure that no jobs are filled by non-EEA nationals if there are capable candidates available from within Ireland and the EEA.

Any vacancy has to be advertised with the FÁS/EURES employment network for eight weeks and in local and national newspapers for six days. Only if no qualified applicants from Ireland or the EEA can be found from advertising within this time span, can applicants from other countries be considered.

Further Restrictions on Employment Permits

Apart from this measure addressing the national and EU job market, the frame for employment permits has been altered to exclude several additional occupations, trades, and lines of work. This applies, for example, to general laborers, daycare personnel and nannies, domestic helpers, various tradespeople, retail sales workers, and people working in the hospitality industry. A full list of ineligible occupations can be found on the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation website.

Starting a new life in Ireland can be exceedingly hard for expats. The main reason for this is that no employment permits are issued for occupations with an annual salary below 30,000 EUR.

Thus, being a highly qualified specialist in areas like ICT, healthcare, engineering, and the natural sciences, and/or hailing from the EEA will provide you with the best chances. Everyone else may have to overcome some serious obstacles. For more detailed information on work permits, please refer to our article on moving to Ireland.

Finding Employment

If you are located within the EEA, the aforementioned online platforms FÁS and EURES should be one of your first stops when looking for employment in Ireland, provided, of course, that you are not simply transferred to an Irish subsidiary of your current company.

If you are from outside of Europe, you may find it slightly more difficult to find employment in Ireland for the reasons stated above. It is possible though, you will just need to be prepared for the process to take a little longer.

Job Hunting on Location

If you are serious about your wish to live and work in Ireland, we recommend flying over on a visitor visa, getting an Irish pre-paid SIM card, and personally applying for available jobs in your line of work. As the job market in Ireland is generally heavily focused on Dublin, the city might be your best starting point. Personal presence will drastically improve prospects of being considered, but it still is no surefire way to secure employment. You might have to take a chance.

Since the Irish economy shows good signs of recuperation after the harsh blows in 2008 and 2009, the demand and opportunities for expats might improve once again. Unemployment has reduced from its 2012 peak of 15.1% to 9.4% in 2015. As emigration from Ireland picked up at an almost alarming speed during the crisis, the employment gaps this “brain-drain” left might also be filled with skilled expats.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

Benoit Julien

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