Register as a volunteer in Ireland

Notice: Lay Volunteers scheme

The existing scheme for Lay Volunteers has closed to new entrants. A revised scheme, ’Volunteering In Ireland’, including revised conditions of entry, will launch on 30th April 2018. Application forms and related policy documents will be available from that date. Potential applicants are advised that the revised scheme will include a pre-clearance procedure applicable to all applicants whether they are visa required or not. No new applications will be accepted in advance of this date.

In the meantime persons who enjoy an immigration permission under the current scheme may continue to have their immigration permission renewed in accordance with the policy applicable at the time they made their initial application. Such persons will be subject to any transitional arrangements set out in the proposed new policy once it has been introduced.

To stay in Ireland as a volunteer for longer than 90 days (eg in a charity or non-profit), you must apply for immigration permission and register in person at a registration office.

1. About registration

IMPORTANT: From 11 December 2017 the previous registration certificate (GNIB card) has been replaced by the new Irish Residence Permit (IRP).

Registration is how we record that you have been given permission to stay in Ireland for longer than 90 days. Read more about registration.

To register, you must apply in person at a registration office. If your visit is successful, you will be given a registration certificate called an Irish Residence Permit (IRP).

2. Before you travel to Ireland

There are some special conditions for being a volunteer in Ireland. For example, you are allowed to be paid a small amount for your work.

However, the type of work you do, the number of hours you work and your relationship/contract with your employer must not meet standards that would require an Employment Permit.

Plan your journey carefully. It is your responsibility to make sure you have everything you need to enter the country, eg visa, documents for border control.

3. When you arrive in Ireland

If you are allowed into the country at border control, an immigration officer will place a landing stamp in your passport.

The landing stamp gives you permission to stay here up to the date indicated (typically 90 days).

You must visit a registration office before the date on the landing stamp expires to:

  • Extend your permission to stay (ie longer than 90 days), and
  • Be registered by immigration

If you don't get permission/register in time, you may have to leave the country.

4. Where to register

If you live in Dublin City or county

You must go to Burgh Quay Registration Office in Dublin City centre.

Before you visit, you must book an appointment online. Do not go to Burgh Quay without an appointment. You will not be allowed to register.

Book a registration appointment online

Book your appointment up to 10 weeks in advance. You may also book before you travel to Ireland, if you know for certain when you will arrive here.

If you live outside Dublin City or county

You must go to the registration office nearest to where you live. Registration offices are located at Garda Síochána (police) stations around the country.

See a list of regional registration offices

You may need an appointment to visit a regional registration office. Contact your local office before you visit to check opening days and times.

5. When you register

Prepare the documents you need

You must bring the following when you go to register:

  • Your passport
  • Proof that you have private medical insurance
  • Proof that you have access to enough money to support yourself
  • An original letter of sponsorship (see notes below)

If any of these are missing, your permission cannot be extended and you will not be registered.

Read a longer description of requirements for permission to be a volunteer.

Click to view notes about documents

Letter of sponsorship

Your letter from the sponsoring organisation must:

  • Be on headed paper
  • Indicate the duration of your volunteer role (start date and end date) with the sponsoring organisation
  • Confirm that your volunteer role is a genuine position and is available for you to take up
  • Confirm that the sponsoring organisation will fully support you for accommodation, finance and general upkeep
  • Confirm that your volunteer role is the sole purpose of your stay in Ireland

In addition, the letter must include an explanation of the nature and function of the sponsoring organisation.

This could include references to its Articles of Association or its registered charity number.

Read a longer description of requirements for permission to be a volunteer.

Cost & payment

You must pay a fee of €300 per person to register. You can pay by:

  • Bank giro: A giro is a pre-printed form and can be collected from any registration office
  • Credit/debit card: These can be used at Burgh Quay Registration Office and some others

Contact your local office to confirm payment options before you arrive.

Visit your registration office

At the registration office an immigration officer will examine your documents and decide whether to extend your immigration permission and register you. Read more about what happens at a registration office.

If approved, the immigration officer will:

The process for issuing stamps and IRPs is different if you register in Dublin or outside Dublin.

About your permission stamp and Irish Residence Permit (IRP)

Permission stamp

A permission stamp gives you permission to stay in Ireland. It also indicates the:

  • Activities you can and cannot do here, eg work
  • Time period you are allowed to stay

As a volunteer, your passport will (typically) be stamped with permission stamp 3 and you will be given permission to stay for 12 months initially.

You cannot be granted permission past the expiry date of your passport.

Irish Residence Permit (IRP)

The Irish Residence Permit (IRP) is your registration certificate. It indicates:

  • That your permission to stay in Ireland has been registered
  • The type of permission you have, ie stamp number

You must carry your IRP with you at all times and present it to an immigration officer or a member of An Garda Síochána (police), if requested.

IMPORTANT: An Irish Residence Permit (IRP) does not allow you to travel to or live freely in other EU countries. All existing travel and immigration rules still apply.

Registration in Dublin

If your visit is successful, the immigration officer will stamp your passport and register you before your appointment ends. Your IRP will then be sent to you by post.

Make sure to confirm your exact address (including Eircode) before you leave the registration office.

Your IRP should arrive a few days later. If it does not arrive within 10 working days, contact us.

Registration outside Dublin

If your visit is successful, the immigration officer will record your details and arrange a new date/time for you to return to the office to finish your registration.

Your registration cannot be completed at the first visit because parts of the process are managed centrally.

At your second visit, the immigration officer will stamp your passport, register you and give you your IRP.

You must return to the registration office to get your stamp and IRP. If not, you may become illegally present in this country.

6. After you register

If your Irish Residence Permit (IRP) does not arrive (Dublin only)

Your IRP should arrive by post within 5 to 10 working days.

You must contact us if it does not arrive within 10 working days.

We will then investigate and (if necessary) prepare a replacement for you.

Lost or stolen Irish Residence Permit (IRP)

You must contact us if your IRP is lost or stolen.

We will then investigate and (if necessary) prepare a replacement for you.

7. Manage permission & registration

Renew permission & registration

Your permission and registration are usually valid for 12 months initially.

You must visit a registration office to renew them up to 2 weeks before they expire, if you wish to stay in Ireland.

Future applications could be affected by gaps in your record if you do not renew in time. In some circumstances, you may have to leave the country.

The total time you can stay in Ireland is 3 years.

Update or modify your registration details

Contact us to update your registration if your personal details or circumstances change, for example:

  • You change your home/postal address
  • Your activity in Ireland changes, eg your volunteer position ends
  • We made an error, eg we misspelled your name
  • Other details change, eg you change your name/gender

In some cases, we may issue you with a new Irish Residence Permit (IRP).


Contact & help

If you have questions, check the support centre for help.

Updated: 27 December 2017

Page history

27 December 2017

Scheme temporarily closed to new applicants from 01/01/18.

8 December 2017

Descriptions updated to reflect change from 'GNIB card' to Irish Residence Permit (IRP).

2 November 2016

Text change from: "For best choice, book your appointment 6 weeks in advance."

5 September 2016

Page published.