US citizens are allowed to own property in Ireland. However, purchasing a property does not confer the right to reside. Any US citizens wanting to remain in Ireland for more than 90 days must get a long stay visa, or obtain Irish citizenship.
Can a US citizen own property in Ireland?
There are no restrictions on foreigners/non-residents buying property in Ireland. US citizens are able to buy both residential and commercial property located within the Emerald Isle, regardless of where they live. Non-residents can pay in cash, or may be able to secure a non-resident mortgage in Ireland. Buyers will, however, need to get an Irish Personal Public Service (PPS) number. This equates to an SSN number in the USA.
Can an American buy land in Ireland?
US citizens are also able to buy land in Ireland. Those wanting to build a new structure or redevelop an existing building may need to secure planning permission first. A buyer should carefully consider the local regulations, before committing to the sale. Planning laws in Ireland can be very different to those in the USA, particularly where protected structures and rural communities are concerned.
Can a US citizen rent out a property in Ireland?
A US citizen who buys a property in Ireland is entitled to earn a rental income from it. This will have tax implications, as both resident and non-resident landlords must file a tax return in Ireland. Non-resident landlords must also appoint an agent to collect the rent, or ask the tenant to deduct 20% of the rent and pay it directly to the Revenue. The US and Ireland have a double taxation treaty, so tax reliefs are available.
How long can a US citizen stay in Ireland without needing a visa?
Those looking to buy in Ireland typically want to view property in person. This is perfectly understandable. The good news is that aside from exceptional circumstances – such as the Covid-19 pandemic – US citizens are allowed to enter Ireland without a visa and stay for up to 90 days. However, immigration officers may ask US citizens about their travel plans at border control, and request proof of sufficient funds for the duration of the trip.
Can an American move to Ireland?
US citizens who want to stay in Ireland for longer than 90 days must get a long stay D visa or Irish citizenship. There are also special immigration schemes for non-EEA citizens, such as the Immigrant Investor Program (IIP) and the Start-up Entrepreneur Program (STEP). So, in theory, Americans can move to Ireland for more than three months – but only if they get immigration permission first.
If a buyer cannot get to Ireland to complete the sale of the property – or their immigration status has expired – it does not necessarily matter. In these situations, the buyer simply needs to grant their Irish legal representative power of attorney. Their lawyer (known as a 'solicitor' in Ireland) can then complete the transaction on the buyer's behalf.
The process of buying property in Ireland
The process of buying property in Ireland is different to that in the United States.
The first step is, of course, to find a property. Would-be buyers can contact real estate agents in the local area and enquire about properties that are listed on the open market. Buyers do not necessarily have to offer the asking price and may choose to offer more or less, depending on the perceived value of the property and the state of the market.
If an offer is accepted by the seller, then it is known as 'sale agreed'. The buyer may be asked to pay a booking deposit at this point, which is usually up to 5% of the agreed sale price. This is completely refundable until the contracts are exchanged. It is viewed as a gesture of good will, demonstrating the buyer's commitment to the purchase.
The buyer must then instruct an Irish property lawyer, if they have not already done so. Reputable solicitors can be found via the Law Society of Ireland's website. It is essential to find a solicitor who specializes in either residential or commercial conveyancing in Ireland, depending on the type of property that is being purchased.
Irish conveyancing process
At this stage it is customary for the buyer to organize a survey of the property. Property in Ireland is sold on the basis of 'buyer beware'. This means it is the buyer's responsibility to uncover any defects. The seller does not necessarily have to highlight any issues. The buyer's solicitor will also carry out various searches, such as a planning search, a compulsory order search and a licensing search. The property title will also be investigated.
The seller's solicitor prepares the sale contract, and if the buyer has any queries, these can be raised with the seller. Once any issues have been resolved, the next step is to exchange contracts. The buyer must send the remaining balance of the deposit to the seller. Subsequently, the transaction becomes legally binding on both parties. A date will be set for the sale to complete, which is known as closing day.
On closing day, some final searches are carried out. The remaining balance is transferred to the seller, whether via a mortgage requisition or a lump sum transfer. Stamp duty must then be paid, which is the tax levied on property purchases. The buyer is given the keys to the property, after which their solicitor registers the title deeds with the Land Registry or the Register of Deeds. Property owners are also responsible for securing home insurance before the sale concludes.
It is also not uncommon for property to be sold at auction in Ireland. The process of buying at auction is different because contracts are exchanged straightaway. This means the deposit must be paid immediately by the party with the winning bid. Much of the conveyancing process – including the legal checks – is done before the auction takes place.
How can I legally live in Ireland, if I buy a house there?
Buying a property in Ireland does not grant the owner any residency rights. A US citizen who buys a property in Ireland and wishes to reside there on a permanent basis must either get a long-stay visa, or secure Irish citizenship.
It is possible to get Irish citizenship:
- Through descent, if the applicant has an Irish parent or grandparent
- Through association, if the applicant has an Irish great-grandparent
- Through marriage, if the applicant has been married to an Irish citizen for at least three years
- Through naturalization, if the applicant has legally resided in Ireland for five years out of the previous nine years
If Irish citizenship is not an option, then it is necessary for US citizens to get a long stay D visa to remain in Ireland for more than 90 days. There are different types of Irish visa, each of which is suited to specific circumstances. The most popular are a:
- Study visa
- Join a family member visa (spousal visa)
- Employment visa
- Retirement visa (stamp 0 permission)
Non-EEA citizens also have the opportunity to participate in special immigration schemes which are designed to bolster the Irish economy.
One example is the Immigrant Investor Program (IIP), which is Ireland's version of a Golden Visa. Applicants are asked to commit to an approved investment in Ireland which ranges from €500,000 to €2,000,000. In return, the applicant and their immediate family are granted Irish residency for an initial period of two years. This can be extended for another three years, after which residency can be renewed indefinitely, subject to certain criteria.
The Start-up Entrepreneur Program (STEP) is another option which invites non-EEA citizens to create a High Potential Start-Up in Ireland. Like the IIP, the applicant and their immediate family are granted Irish residency if approved.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.