Irish Passport holders and South African family members

South African and Irish passports: Immigration Information for South Africans moving and immigrating to the Republic of Ireland

South African and Irish passports: Immigration Information for South Africans moving and immigrating to the Republic of Ireland

This section is for Irish passport holders with South African dependants, moving to Ireland. For now, we will assume you are already in possession of an Irish passport. If you want to see if you're eligible see below in the links.

EU law vs Irish Laws

With an Irish passport moving to the Republic of Ireland you will be moving under domestic Irish law, not EU law as you are “coming home” or “returning Irish” not moving to a foreign country, even if you have never set foot in Ireland and applied for your passport via birth or registration.

In doing so, you will need to follow the process of Irish laws that govern such things as age of dependants and who qualifies as dependants. As such you should ignore all discussion and postings around EU Treaty as this does not apply to you, even though you are an EU citizen, you are primarily Irish moving to Ireland.

“Please note that we cannot accept applications under EU Treaty Rights provisions from non-EEA family members of Irish nationals. Directive 2004/38/EC on the right of citizens of the EU and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States applies only to Union citizens who move to or reside in a Member State other than that of which they are a national” (INIS/ISD)

“If you are returning to Ireland with an EEA spouse, civil partner, de facto partner or other family member, they may enter Ireland freely. If you are an Irish citizen returning (coming) to Ireland with a non-EEA spouse, civil partner, de facto partner or other family member, you should be aware that there is no automatic entitlement under Irish law for you to have them join you in Ireland. They will need to apply for residency permission from the Irish immigration services. They may need to get immigration preclearance and they also may also need to apply for a visa before coming to Ireland. You can find information about applying for residency permission on the Crosscare Migrant Project website.”


Entry for the eligible South African passport holding dependents of an Irish citizen

If all your eligible dependents are South African passport holders, they do not need an entry visa into Ireland. There is no Irish or EU paperwork to be filled out before leaving South Africa and for that matter no paperwork submitted at landing in Ireland, it is all done from within Ireland. This is because Ireland and South Africa have a special agreement that allows South Africans to enter Ireland “visa free.” This entry, however, is subject to having the correct paperwork with you. *Note Below the Covid-19 restrictions on visa-free travel

You should inform the BMU officer at the airport/point of entry into Ireland of your intention to apply for residency based on your marriage/civil partnership with an Irish citizen. You should bring the required documentation and at point of entry Border Management Unit (BMU) will issue up to 90 days stamp in the South African Passports.

Note: There are special conditions for the De Facto (Unmarried) spouse of an Irish citizen. This includes proof of 2-years living at the same address and a pre-clearance approval. See the Info below on De Facto

Immigration Information for South Africans moving to the Republic of Ireland, Irish and South African passport holders


Registering the South African members

After you have entered Ireland you must register with an Immigration Officer. You should do this within 90 days of your arrival or within the period specified on the stamp provided to you in your passport at the airport (which maybe for less than 90 days). You and your Irish spouse and children should go together to register.

If you are living in Dublin you need to make an online appointment to go to the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service Registration Office at 13/14 Burgh Quay, Dublin 2. You can make an appointment in advance up to 8 to 10 weeks before you attend. It’s a good idea to do this so you can register as soon as possible after arrival.

If you are having trouble getting an appointment at Burgh Quay, look out for an app on your phone called GNIB Pro to help you get an appointment

If you are living outside Dublin, you should go together to your Garda District Headquarters.

There are no fees to pay at these registrations as you are Irish dependants.



What documents should I take to the Garda Immigration appointment?

  • Your Unabridged Marriage/civil partnership certificate
  • Your Passports
  • Proof of your joint address in Ireland (utility bills in joint names at your home address)

When approved the South African members will receive a Stamp 4 immigration permission which allows them to live and work in Ireland without the need for an employment permit. Initially this may only be a stamp in your passport, and you may need to return a few weeks later to receive your Irish Residence Permit (IRP, previously known as GNIB card).

Newly married couples should look at bringing all additional proof of relationship documents to the Garda Immigration regsitration.

If a Stamp 4 is not granted (this can happen if there are any issues that need to be clarified such as identity, criminal history or relationship history), your spouse or civil partner may be asked to make a written application for residency (pdf) (Res6 document) to INIS . Your spouse or civil partner is not entitled to work in Ireland until a Stamp 4 has been issued. This may be in cases where couples are very recently married or the Garda immigration officer believes the marriage needs further investigation and if either member has criminal convictions. In this case this application can take up to 6 months, in which case temporary residence will be granted pending approval. The Non-EEA member will not be able to work in this time.

As the Spouse or child of an Irish citizen, you can apply to naturalise and then get your Irish citizenship after 3 years of living in Ireland subject to the Residency Calculator and proofs that are collected of co-habitation with the Irish citizen in the Republic of Ireland.


Immigration Information for South Africans moving to the Republic of Ireland, Irish and South African passport holders De facto


De Facto Partner (unmarried) of an Irish citizen

A De Facto partnership is a relationship that is like marriage but that has not been legally recognised or registered. There are some key requirements to showing you are in a de facto partnership:

  • You must have lived together for at least 2 years (this is known as ‘co-habitation’)
  • You must be able to prove this. For example: joint bank accounts (or bank statements showing money transfers between the two of you, not many people have joint bank accounts in South Africa) shared tenancy agreements, shared home ownership and other evidence that shows you are in a durable, lasting relationship

An application must be made to the Irish Naturalisation & Immigration Service and it takes 6 months to be processed. Which means the South African De Facto spouse cannot work in this time. Please make certain you follow the Pre-clearance process BEFORE leaving South Africa, you will need this permission in place.


Immigration Information for South Africans moving to the Republic of Ireland, Irish and South African passport holders dependants


Dependents: Children or other Family Members

Children are minor dependents under the age of 18 years, or dependents in full-time education up the age of 23 years, of either the Irish citizen or their non-EU spouse, civil partner or de facto partner.

For applications of children 18-23years you need to have them enrolled in study from the approved list of courses and study.

Other family members: Other dependents may be eligible to come, and these may include elderly parents or adult dependents. These groups have no automatic right to come to Ireland but in some circumstances can get permission.

Family Reunification for Irish citizens’ dependents is not as clear cut as say an EU member moving with extended family. EU law is used when for example a French passport holder moves to Ireland with their children and dependent elderly parents.

In the case of an Irish citizen wanting to bring a dependent adult outside of the marriage but direct line family, it requires a lot more evidence and there are financial qualifiers too. It is because of this being a grey area we recommend the advice of an Irish Immigration Solicitor.

If an Irish citizen who is living abroad adopts a child abroad, they should apply for the adoption to be entered in the Register of Intercountry Adoptions. Once it is registered, the adoption has the same legal status as if the adoption was made in the State. HERE


Dual Passport holders

South Africans who hold Irish, British or EU passports, if you were born in South Africa, or you took up citizenship of South Africa by naturalisation or other means, you need to have a South African passport in order to leave the airports in South Africa.

A good check to see your status, is to open your South African Identification Document (ID BOOK), if it says South African Citizen on the front page where your details are, you need to apply for a South African passport. Apply at your local Home Affairs.

Dual Nationals depending on how and at what age you obtained your other citizenship, other than South African, may need permission to have that second passport. Please confirm this at your local Home Affairs office.


Dependants becoming an Irish Citizen by Naturalisation

As the dependant/spouse of an Irish citizen, you can apply to naturalise and then get your Irish citizenship after 3 years of living in Ireland subject to the Residency Calculator and proofs that are collected of co-habitation with the EU citizen in the Republic of Ireland.


Zambrano- Non-EU parent(s) of an Irish child


If you already have a permission stamp (eg: a work permit and you are already living in Ireland you can make the application at Garda immigration with all the required proof. If not, you have to send off a particular form to get approved before you can get your Stamp4

Note: this route may mean the parents are not allowed to work whilst the processing takes place of the permission. It can take a few weeks or  anthing from 6-12 months to be approved, up to the Garda Immigration and proof given. Once approved you can seek work and all efforts need to be made to remain employed. So, please make sure you have sufficient funds to keep yourselves going in that time, should you choose this route. If that is not available, you may want to look at getting work permits instead. See links below for info on Zambrano. take note of the FAQ's on the link below to Zambrano.

From the 1st October 2015 all applications for permission to remain in the State on the basis of parentage of an Irish Citizen Child from a Non-EEA parent must be submitted on the Irish Citizen Child Application Form .



Important links:


Please note during Covid-19, a 14 day quarantine applies when you arrive in Ireland. Please see this link for VITAL info:   Covid-19 updates

   #MapMyMove- Our coaching Service - confused or lost and need some direction? 

   Irish Citizenship (Foreign Birth Registration FBR) The basics

   Getting prepared for your Foreign Birth registration (FBR)

   Citizens Information: Returning or Coming to Ireland on Irish passport

   Migrant Project: Bringing Non-Irish family members

   South African Home Affairs: Citizenship

   South African Home Affairs: Passports & Travel Documents

    De Facto partners and proofs required

   De Facto partner of an Irish Citizen- Form to be completed- this is pdf and will download into your downloads file

   De Facto partner of Irish Citizen Pre-clearance before leaving South Africa

    Family Reunification (Moving non EU extended family to Ireland)

   Approved list of study courses for dependent children aged 18-23 years

   First time registration

   Fees for registration, the €300 registration fee is not applicable to the SA dependents of Irish Citizens

   Information on Naturalisation


    Retention of SA Citizenship

    Returning to Ireland: Our first year back! (Blog)

    Admin before the move

    Admin once you're in Ireland


Developed and sponsored by  The One Group


Right Click

No right click