Everything You Need to Know About Working in Ireland

Ireland is open for business!

Even as its neighbor prepares to cut itself off from decades-old agreements and understandings, the Republic of Ireland is ready and waiting to accept new residents. If you are an EU national, then you can search for a job in Ireland right now.

Jobs in Ireland for foreigners, however, are a bit more complicated, even for skilled jobs like those in healthcare.

Are you currently a registered pharmacist or pharmacy technician in your home country and looking for a change? Working in Ireland may be possible.

Here’s what you need to know about moving to Ireland for work.

Working in Ireland: As an EEA and Swiss National

If you are a pharmacist from another EU member state, the EEA, or Switzerland, you are very welcome to work in the Republic of Ireland. There is no visa or work permit process, and both you and your EU/EEA family can live and work here as part of the freedom of movement scheme.

If you are from the EU/EEA and you have a non-EU spouse or civil partner, they may join you. When you arrive, you and your non-EU spouse must register to remain here under EU Treaty Rights.

As pharmacists or pharmacy technicians, you should know that there is a mutual recognition of qualifications between EEA countries.  That means your qualifications allow you to apply for any available job here, including roles with the Irish army. However, you cannot work as part of the Irish diplomatic service.

Before you begin work, you must register. You can do this two ways. First, you can register for the European Professional Card (EPC) before you leave your home country. This is the simplest form of registration as your home country navigates the Irish verification process for you.

Alternatively, you can register directly with The Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland. You must provide these documents to the PSI:

  • Application form
  • Birth certificate
  • Passport
  • University qualification certificate
  • Registration certificate (if available)
  • Language competence requirements

The final stage is to attend a meeting by invitation only. During the meeting, they review your application and experience. Your request is only complete when the session is over.

The fee to apply for the evaluation of your qualification is 790 Euro and an adaptation period placement fee is 750 Euro.

All of this happens over a specific timetable, which you can find here.

English Language Competence

To work in an Irish pharmacy, you must provide proof of your English language competency.

If you trained in a country where English or Irish was the official language, you don’t need to prove your competency. The same is true if you spent three out of the past five years living and working as a registered pharmacist in a county where English or Irish was the recognized language.

Otherwise, you must submit your IELTS or TOEFL scores with your application.

Tax and Social Insurance: Getting a PPS Number

As EU/EEA citizens, you don’t need a work permit. However, you do need a Personal Public Service (PPS) number. You apply for the PPS number after you find up employment.

You need to make an appointment at the local PPS Number Allocation Centre in the county you live in. You need to bring your passport or ID card, proof of address in Ireland, and proof of employment (which grants you access to a PPS number).

The appointment only takes ten minutes, but be prepared to wait for the interview as busier centers (like Dublin, Cork, and Galway) tend to have waiting lists.

Working in Ireland: As a UK National

If you are British and want to work in Ireland, you can move freely between the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland under a framework called the Common Travel Area.

The UK Home Office says it has no plans to alter the Common Travel Area legislation post-Brexit. The agreement has nothing to do with the EU and significantly pre-dates both country’s entry into the EU.

As a British citizen, you don’t need to submit language competencies. And if you worked in a British pharmacy or attended a British university, then you are welcome to apply for jobs in Ireland. You can do so through the European Professional Card or by registering directly with the PSI.

Can British Professionals Work in Ireland After Brexit?

So far, yes. Both the UK government and the Irish government plan to uphold the Common Travel Area (CTA). The CTA allows Irish and British citizens to reside either Great Britain or the Republic of Ireland and have all the rights they would enjoy in their home jurisdiction (education, social benefits, employment, and healthcare).

Because the CTA pre-dates the EU, withdrawal should not impact it. And both countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding to the effect.

The EU also accepts that Ireland and the UK may make their own arrangements relating to freedom of movement between territories. You can read more about the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland here.

Registering for Social Security and Tax: Getting a PPS Number

Anyone who works in the Irish state and pays tax to Revenue needs a PPS number. The CTA doesn’t negate this, and your National Insurance number doesn’t replace a PPS number, even if you are from Northern Ireland.

To apply for a PPS number, make an appointment with the PPS Number Allocation Centre in the county you reside in. You then need to provide proof of your identity, Irish address, and employment in Ireland.

Remember: you can’t get a PPS number without a job because the state says you need a reason to have the number. So, wait until you have an employment contract to apply. Unlike the National Insurance number system, you can apply for jobs, accept the position, and get paid before you have your PPS number.

Work in Ireland: From Elsewhere (Third Country)

If you are not a UK or EU/EEA national, then you need a visa to work and live in Ireland.

Assuming you do not have an alternative route to living and working in the state (Irish ancestry, previous residency, or an Irish spouse), then you need to apply for Ireland’s Critical Skills Employment Permit. The permit allows health professionals like medical practitioners and industrial pharmacists to work in Ireland.

To apply for the Critical Skills Employment Permit, you must have an employment offer. Then, either you or your potential employer can apply for the visa by providing:

  • A completed application (with signatures for yourself and your employer)
  • Evidence of your qualifications
  • Processing fee
  • Copy of your registration documents from the appropriate medical body.

To consider your application, your position must be on the critical skills shortage list published by the Irish government. The shortage list includes posts that routinely go unfilled in Ireland due to a lack of Irish or EU/EEA workers. There are so few workers that the Irish government allows workers from overseas to apply to work in Ireland if they have these sorely needed skills.

While many healthcare positions rarely leave the list, it is essential to check the list before sending the application and paying the fee.

If approved, it is your responsibility to comply with the terms of your visa. That means keeping your address updated, attending immigration appointments, and leaving the state when directed.

Keep in mind that the same English language competency requirements that apply to EU citizens also apply to you.

Registering as Pharmacist in Ireland

You also need to follow the Third Country Route of Access to become a qualified pharmacist if your qualifications come from a non-EU institution. You need to do this even if you are an EU national. For example, if you are French and studied in Canada, you must still apply. Recognition only exists for institutions in the EU/EEA.

First, you must apply to the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland (Ireland’s regulator) Register of Pharmacists and ask for recognition of your qualifications. The board then examines your education, qualifications, and training standards over four stages.

In stage one, you make an application and provide all relevant supporting documentation, including a non-refundable fee of 1,500 Euro to the PSI.

If you make it past Stage 1, you then take an equivalency exam. The exams take place twice a year.

When you pass the exam, you then enter into an adaptation period, which allows you to work. You may sit a minimum of six months and a maximum of three years of training depending on the results of Stages 1 and 2.

After completing your adaptation period, you may then take the PSI Professional Registration Examination. You must pass the exam to practice as a pharmacist in the Republic of Ireland.

Register for Tax and Social Security

Like all workers in Ireland, you must register for your PPS number to pay tax and social security benefits. You apply for this number after you have arrived in the state and after you have an employment contract.

You can learn more in the PPS section above.

Fast-Track Your Pharmacy Career in Ireland

Whether you are an EU national or are from further afield, you’re very welcome in Ireland. Our healthcare sector is booming, and it needs the help of qualified professionals like you to run smoothly. And moving here is easier than you may think!

Are you ready to try something new and take your career to the next level? Visit our job board for the latest job advertisements.