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Returning to live in Ireland with a child? Here's everything you need to know

We’re moving back from Canada with our 1-year-old. How do we apply for PPS numbers, child benefit, GP care and childcare?

An increasing number of Irish couples are returning to live in Ireland with young children born abroad. Photograph: iStock/Getty Images

Q: My partner and I are moving back to Cork from Canada this summer. We have been living here for nearly six years, and now have an almost one-year-old daughter who was born in Toronto. What do we need to do to get her set up with a PPS number etc? Can we start the process from here, or do we have to apply in person on our return? Is there anything else we need to consider?

A: Sarah Owen, Crosscare Migrant Project

PPS number

Though it is possible to apply for a PPS number prior to return in limited cases (like when purchasing a house from abroad), it’s likely that you have to wait until you are back in Ireland before you can apply for a PPS number for your daughter. Most PPS centres across the country (full list here: welfare.ie/en/Pages/Personal-Public-Service-Number-Registration-Centres-by-Count.aspx) operate on an appointment only basis and it can take a number of weeks to get an appointment in some places.

To save time, book an appointment before you come back at mywelfare.ie. Once in Ireland, on the day of your appointment you’ll need to provide documentary evidence of identity and residence in Ireland, as well as proof that you need a PPS number for atransaction with a specified body. A completed GP visit card or Child Benefit application form can help to show this - more on this below.

You and your partner can just the use PPS numbers you had from before you left. If you can’t remember what these were, contact Client Identity Services by phone on +353 17043281 to confirm.

Child Benefit

Once you have a PPS number for your daughter, you can apply for Child Benefit. This universal payment is available to most parents regardless of income. You do however need to satisfy the Habitual Residence Condition (HRC) in order to qualify. The monthly rate of payment is €140 per child. Find out more about how to apply for Child Benefit at welfare.ie/en/Pages/273_Child-Benefit.aspx

Free GP visits for children under six

All children under six are now eligible for GP visit cards so they can see their doctor free of charge. Find out what you need to know about how to apply at citizensinformation.ie/en/health/medical_cards_and_gp_visit_cards/gp_visit_cards_for_under_6s.html

Childcare

Childcare in Ireland can be expensive. A new affordable childcare scheme was introduced this year to make it more accessible to families. For more information on this and other childcare options, see citizensinformation.ie/en/education/pre_school_education_and_childcare/your_childcare_options.htmlWell-being on returnSometimes returning Irish emigrants can experience a reverse culture-shock on return and you might find that things have changed quite a bit in Cork in the six years that you’ve been away. It’s worth keeping in mind that although you are coming home, you are also emigrating. It takes time to adjust so give yourselves time to settle in and take things step by step.

Where to find more information

For tips on minding yourself on your return as well as more general information on returning to Ireland (including things like housing, job seeking, exchanging driving licences etc.) take a look at migrantproject.ie.

Sarah Owen is the Irish Abroad Networking Officer with Crosscare Migrant Project. They are funded by the Emigrant Support Programme of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to provide support to Irish people emigrating from and returning to Ireland. Find out more at migrantproject.ie