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Habitual residency in Ireland

You must be habitually resident to qualify for social assistance payments in Ireland. Social assistance payments are payments for people who do not have enough social insurance (PRSI) contributions to qualify for the equivalent social insurance-based payments.

Source: Citizens Information – Residence requirements for social assistance in Ireland

The term “habitually resident” is not defined in either Irish or EC law, but it is intended to convey a degree of permanence evidenced by a regular physical presence enduring for some time.

When determining whether a person is habitually resident in Ireland, all relevant evidence is taken into account including the period before the person entered Ireland (and other parts of the Common Travel Area), the present period and the future intentions of the applicant as evidenced by his/ her actions.

Irish law

Section 246 of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005 provides that:

“It shall be presumed, until the contrary is shown, that a person is not habitually resident in the State at the date of the making of the application concerned unless he has been present in the State or any other part of the Common Travel Area for a continuous period of two years ending on that date.”

Section 30 of the Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2007 added the following to the above:

“(4) Notwithstanding the presumption in subsection (1), a deciding officer or the Executive, when determining whether a person is habitually resident in the State, shall take into consideration all the circumstances of the case including, in particular, the following:

  1. The length and continuity of residence in the State or in any particular country
  2. The length and purpose of any absence from the State
  3. The nature and pattern of the person’s employment
  4. The person’s main centre of interest
  5. The future intentions of the person concerned as they appear from all the circumstances

These 5 factors are not exhaustive and no single factor is conclusive.   The evidential weight attributed to each factor will depend on the circumstances of each case. `


  • The presumption In Section 246 does not mean that an applicant is automatically considered to be habitually resident in the State because he or she has been in Ireland (or any part of the Common Travel Area) for 2 years or more.
  • Neither does it mean that an applicant can be automatically considered to be “not habitually resident” because he or she has not resided in Ireland for 2 years.
  • The onus is always on the applicant to provide sufficient evidence to support their claims for a social welfare payment.

Frontier workers

Live South – Work North

Frontier workers are generally regarded as habitually resident in Ireland even when working abroad (e.g. across the border) if they return at regular intervals to Ireland.

Live North – Work South

Likewise, frontier workers who work in Ireland but have their main centre of interest abroad (e.g. across the border) and return there at frequent intervals are generally regarded as not being habitually resident.

Payments affected by HRC

  • Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • State Pension (Non-contributory)
  • Blind pension
  • Widow’s, Widower’s or Surviving Civil Partner’s (Non-contributory) Pension
  • Guardian’s Payment (Non-contributory)
  • One-Parent Family Payment
  • Carer’s Allowance
  • Disability Allowance
  • Supplementary Welfare Allowance – exception: EEA workers / former workers
  • Child Benefit – exception: Frontier / cross border workers
  • Domiciliary Care Allowance

See also

Page last checked: March 2016

This webpage is for general information purposes only and while we endeavour to keep it up-to-date, errors may occur.  It is very important that you check with the relevant body to ensure the information is current and is applicable to your situation: – North /  South

If you would like to suggest amendments or highlight new information that could be useful to others please don’t hesitate to get in touch.