When you move, there are so many things to do. Set up new utilities, purge and pack your things, buy new furniture to suit your new home. When we moved overseas to Ireland, we had to do all that plus figure out all the basics you need for living like get a PPS number (Personal Public Service number) which is like your Social Security number, setting up a new bank account, registering with Immigration, etc. We also needed to figure out basic things like how to get our trash picked up at our flat and where to buy bus passes. Things you generally don’t need to relearn if you are simply relocating in the US.
Setting up Mobile Phone Service
When we first arrived in Dublin, we went immediately to get our cell phones service set up so that we would have a form of communication. Luckily, wi-fi is available all over here and our flat included it as an amenity. But we definitely wanted to have our cell phones set up so that we could contact each other and have a contact number to put on all of our future paperwork. Before we left the US, Mr Puffles did some research and knew that we would be able to buy new SIM cards for our smart phones if they were unlocked. Luckily, he was able to easily get the unlock codes from ATT and unlocked our phones before we left the US.
For our phone service, we decided to go with Tesco Mobile which has a no contract/pay-as-you-go program that has an unlimited text and data plan for 25Euro per month. Since we were staying in the city center, we walked up to the Jervis Shopping Center to the Tesco Mobile kiosk and were able to purchase new SIM cards there. We “top up” or pay by going to a Tesco customer service counter and paying there. They give you a slip of paper with a code that you enter when you call their top-up number. It’s fairly easy and it gave us immediate mobile and text service. I’m still not able to send files or photos on my SMS for some reason, but hopefully, I will be able to call their customer service and get it sorted.
Registering with Immigration
On the second day we were here, we explored the city a bit and tried to figure out where everything was located. We walked back up to the Tesco to purchase some basic groceries and on the way back, we stopped at the Garda National Bureau office in the city center to register. If you are moving to Ireland or planning on staying beyond the 90 day tourist visa period, you must register with the Department of Immigration.
When we arrived there was a large group of people already waiting and it was already 4p.m. in the afternoon. We quickly received numbers after explaining why we were there and then we waited for an hour. Strangely, no one was called to any of the service windows for 45 minutes and we were beginning to think that the staff had all left for the weekend already since it was a warm Friday afternoon. Imagine that this is the DMV and there was the same sort of depressed waiting happening. And then imagine that you brought your four tired, hungry, cranky, jet-lagged young children with you. I spent a lot of time letting them scribble on receipts and letting them get paper cups of water from the dispenser hoping that they wouldn’t suddenly lose it and have a tantrum.
Finally, we were called up with Mr Puffles going to one window and me called to the adjacent window. Two very grumpy young ladies took our passports and our paperwork. They asked us some questions and Mr Puffles had to show them our marriage certificate (which I luckily had brought with us). Then, they took our photos and money (it costs €300 per person) and sent us back to wait. Luckily, they take credit cards because I didn’t even think that it would cost anything to register.
After a bit, I was called to the back and a very nice, happy man took my finger prints electronically. We had a fun chat and he asked me to send in Mr Puffles. After a short wait, we were called to pick up our immigration cards which was like a small ID card. Done!
Setting a Bank Account
On the second day, we also tried to set up our bank account as well. Mr Puffles wanted to be prepared to fill out his new hire paperwork on the following Monday when he started work. We stopped into a bank and inquired. They tried to send us away with an appointment for the following week, but Mr Puffles was persistent and one of the girls was able to help us. In Ireland, they call basic checking accounts “current accounts” and they are not paired with a savings account as they usually are in the US. They also seem to be moving away from the laser cards they used previously and are giving people the same ATM/Visa debit style cards that we use in the US. At some stores though, they still use machines that only read the computer chip style cards and you have to specify if you are trying to use a credit card or “swipe” card.
When we tried to set up the account, we knew going in that we might have problems setting up an account since we need to prove our residency. We were hoping that a letter from Mr Puffles’ employer would work but it didn’t. You need a utility bill or official letter with your name and current address listed to set up an account. Since we were in a temporary flat, we didn’t have any utility bills. We needed a bank account to not only set up Mr Puffles’ direct deposit but also for the all the things that require direct debit here: all the utilities, our rent payment, etc.
Luckily, Mr Puffles was able to go to the PPS office to register for a number with his work visa paperwork. With the letter from the PPS office, he was able to go back to open an account in his name. Since I couldn’t prove where I lived, we had to wait to open a joint account until I could secure a utility bill or register for my PPS number. I was only able to do so once we had signed a lease on our house and was able to take our lease letter to the PPS office and register. The whole process took several weeks and I am still waiting on my bank card.
Getting a PPS number
Luckily, this was fairly easy. I needed a PPS number to get a bank account. So, as soon as we got our letter from the leasing agency, I took it to the PPS office. Since we do almost everything with the kids (because who is going to watch them for me in this strange land?), we dragged all four kids again to the PPS office which is located north of the Jervis Shopping Center.
We entered into a small waiting area filled with lots of people and a feeling of dread came over me! Why?!? We waited in a short queue to get our number and then we took our forms and settled in for a long wait. But I had not been sitting for more than five minutes (I hadn’t even gotten a chance to fill out all my paperwork), then I was called up to a window!
A very friendly man asked me some questions and took my paperwork. It happened to be a Friday again and I remarked that there seemed to be a lot of people waiting. He said it was always busy. Then after a few minutes, all of the children and Mr Puffles showed up behind me.
“That was brilliant! Bringing three kids!” I guess he didn’t see the small one in the stroller.
“Really? I thought it was a terrible idea. I was kind of worried when I saw how many people are waiting.”
“No! It was brilliant! You got put to the front of of the line! The rest of the people waiting out there have probably been here for two hours!”
What!?! That was crazy! I felt lucky and happy that my paperwork was all done in just a short time!