Anyone moving to Ireland needs to pay a visit to the GNIB office. It doesn’t matter if you’re working, not working, a student, or a child. Below is how our process went. You’ll see that the first step is the hardest!
Scheduling an Appointment
Honestly, the most difficult and annoying part of this process is booking your GNIB appointment. I’m part of a couple of expats groups on Facebook, and the most commonly asked question is, “How on earth do I schedule an appointment?”
My husband had to visit the GNIB site multiple times to secure an appointment because it kept telling him there were no appointments available . . . ever. You can imagine people’s frustrations when they think they’ll never be able to get their immigration matters settled!
It turns out that GNIB releases canceled appointment times at around 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. GMT on weekdays, so it’s best to check then. There’s also a GNIB Notifications app that alerts you to when appointments become available (it’s not officially from GNIB, so I’d be very wary about sharing any personal info). In our case, we were able to eventually book at 10 a.m. in early/mid-September for an appointment on November 14. From what I understand, this timeframe is normal, so be sure to try to book as far in advance as you can.
At the Appointment
We arrived at the office at 9:49 a.m. for our 10 a.m. appointment. We stood in a very short queue at the entrance to check in, were given numbers, and were told to go into the waiting area. As soon as we walked in there, our numbers were called. We each had to go to separate windows and had our information processed separately.
We both had to hand over our passports to the agents. Since Steve was here for work, he was asked for his work permit, while I had to present our marriage certificate to prove I was his spouse.
The agents didn’t really ask many questions. They wanted to know if it was my first time in Ireland and if we had any children. They also asked for my address and phone number in Dublin, and they confirmed that I was a dependent of Steve and that he was also born in the US.
My agent then went to the agent helping Steve to confirm our situation. She came back to me and confirmed I would be getting Stamp 3, while Steve would get Stamp 1. The agents then took our photos for the GNIB card and scanned our two index fingers. We also paid for our GNIB registration here (credit cards are accepted). We were then told to wait to be called for a full fingerprint scan.
This process took about five minutes and was painless. That being said, BRING EVERY DOCUMENT WITH YOU. We weren’t asked for a document that showed our Dublin address, but it’s a good idea to bring a piece of official mail (utility bills, bank statements, letters from government, etc.) as proof. We didn’t have utility bills at the time, but we brought our apartment lease and a letter from our bank, just in case.
About 10 minutes later, we were called to the fingerprinting room. A full set of biometric prints were taken, and this process took several minutes.
We then went back to the waiting area for our GNIB cards and passports. This wait was the longest, about 20–25 minutes (bring a book!). When our documents were ready, they called us up and had us confirm the details on our cards. Our passports were returned to us with stamps indicating our immigration status. And that was that!
After the Appointment
Any time you’re traveling outside of Ireland, be sure to have your GNIB card on you. I keep mine in my wallet at all times, but when we returned from our Germany trip in December, Steve didn’t have his on him. We were told by the immigration agent at Dublin Airport that in the future, we could be fined €10,000 if we can’t present it (!). The stamp in your passport isn’t enough—carry your GNIB card!