Kylemore Abbey Castle, Ireland
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Kylemore Abbey Castle, Ireland

© 123rf.com / Nico Smit

Ireland Travel Guide

Key Facts
Area

70,182 sq km (27,097 sq miles).

Population

4,713,993 (UN estimate 2016).

Population density

69.7 per sq km.

Capital

Dublin.

Government

Republic.

Head of state

President Michael D Higgins since 2011.

Head of government

(Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar since December 2022.

Electricity

230 volts AC, 50Hz. British-style plugs with three square pins are used.

Ireland is one of the globe’s most singular travel destinations, a feisty, twinkling country far more famous for the sum of its parts than for any specific sight or attraction. Its landscapes are raw, its cities are animated and its history holds endless tales of adversity. Tying all this together is the Irish character, a fabled combination of bright-eyed bonhomie and bar-room banter: there’s good reason why the planet’s full of Irish pubs.

Lovable Dublin falls naturally as the most popular option for first-time visitors, although for all the capital city’s stately architecture and riverside charm, it only partly hints at what the wider country has to offer. The real spirit of today’s nation might be up for debate – it’s as likely to be found in a Connemara village as a Cork street scene – but searching for it is hugely enjoyable.

It’s often said that there are two Irelands. Despite its economic woes, 21st-century Ireland is a modern destination, full of fresh creativity. At the same time, of course, it’s somewhere rooted in the strongest of traditions, a country marked by humour, hospitality and more than the occasional late night. The craic of legend isn’t generally hard to find.

With all this in mind, it’s perhaps no surprise that Ireland caters for such a broad range of interests. Those in search of windswept hikes, Celtic relics and fiddle-and-song pubs will be well sated, but so too will those looking for on-trend gastronomy, family-friendly attractions or slick hotels. The country may be small but its cultural impact worldwide continues to be enormous, and this is due to far more than just a romantic notion of how it used to be.

Various icons and images enjoy close associations with Ireland (see everything from craggy peninsulas to pints of Guinness) but the real beauty of the country is the fact that it transcends every cliché that people throw at it. Its potential for adventure – for real, blood-pumping adventure – is all too often overlooked, while for those who just want to take it easy, the options are copious.

Travel Advice

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) provides advice about risks of travel to help British nationals make informed decisions. Find out more about FCDO travel advice.

Before you travel

No travel can be guaranteed safe. Read all the advice in this guide as well as support for British nationals abroad which includes:

  • advice on preparing for travel abroad and reducing risks
  • information for women, LGBT+ and disabled travellers

Follow and contact FCDO travel on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You can also sign up to get email notifications when this advice is updated.

Following a knife attack on 23 November, there has been unrest around the centre of Dublin. There has been, and may continue to be, some disruption, including to traffic and public transport. You should avoid any protests and follow advice of local authorities.

Travel insurance

If you choose to travel, research your destinations and get appropriate travel insurance. Insurance should cover your itinerary, planned activities and expenses in an emergency.

This advice reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British citizen’ passport from the UK, for the most common types of travel.

The authorities in Ireland set and enforce entry rules. If you’re not sure how these requirements apply to you, contact Ireland’s embassy in the UK.

COVID-19 rules

Countries may restrict travel or bring in rules at short notice. Check with your travel provider for changes.

If you test positive for COVID-19, you may need to stay where you are until you test negative. You may also need to seek treatment there.

You should also read TravelHealthPro’s general COVID-19 advice for travellers.

Entry to Ireland

There are no COVID-19 testing or vaccination requirements for passengers entering Ireland.

Check the latest requirements from the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs.

ID requirements

If you are a British citizen, you do not need a passport to enter Ireland. However, some carriers and airlines might require identification. Irish immigration officers check the ID of all passengers arriving by air from the UK and might ask for proof of British nationality, particularly if you were born outside the UK. You should take your British passport with you. Check the Ireland Citizens Information Board for guidance on acceptable ID.

You do not need ID to cross the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.

Visa requirements

British citizens do not need a visa to visit Ireland. Ireland, along with the UK, is a member of the Common Travel Area (CTA). UK nationals do not need a visa or residency permit to live, work or study in Ireland.

Vaccination requirements (other than COVID-19)

At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the vaccinations and certificates you need in TravelHealthPro’s Ireland guide.

Customs rules

There are strict rules about goods that can be brought into and taken out of Ireland. Find out about customs rules from the Irish Revenue. You must declare anything that may be prohibited or subject to tax or duty.

Travelling with pets

Read about travelling to the EU with your pet and check the Irish entry requirements for pets.

Taking money into Ireland

If you are travelling with or sending 10,000 euros or more, check Irish Revenue guidance on travelling with cash.

Terrorism

There is a high threat of terrorist attack globally affecting UK interests and British nationals, including from groups and individuals who view the UK and British nationals as targets. You should remain vigilant at all times.

UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out how to reduce your risk from terrorism while abroad.

Terrorism in Ireland

Terrorist attacks in Ireland cannot be ruled out.

Protests

Following a knife attack on 23 November, there has been unrest around the centre of Dublin. There has been, and may continue to be, some disruption, including to traffic and public transport. You should avoid any protests and follow advice of local authorities.

Crime

Take precautions to reduce the risk of bag snatching or pickpocketing. Avoid carrying valuables and large amounts of money. Lock your vehicle and park where possible in a secure car park. Most incidents occur in the larger cities.

You can get free support from the Irish Tourist Assistance Service (ITAS) as a victim of crime. Report any incident in person to the nearest Garda (police) station. They will contact ITAS if needed.

Laws and cultural differences

Illegal drugs and prison sentences

Possession of even small quantities of drugs can lead to a long prison sentence. Do not offer to carry any items for anyone else when entering or leaving Ireland.

Transport risks

Road travel

If you are planning to drive in Ireland, read:

Before you travel check that:

  • your destination can provide the healthcare you may need

  • you have appropriate travel insurance for local treatment or unexpected medical evacuation

This is particularly important if you have a health condition or are pregnant.

Emergency medical number

Dial 112 or 999 and ask for an ambulance.

Contact your insurance or medical assistance company promptly if you’re referred to a medical facility for treatment.

For more information read guidance on healthcare when travelling in Europe.

Vaccinations and health risks

At least 8 weeks before your trip check:

Medication

The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or bought in the UK can be different in other countries. If you have questions, contact the Embassy of Ireland in London.

Read best practice when travelling with medicines on TravelHealthPro.

The NHS has information on whether you can take your medicine abroad.

Healthcare facilities in Ireland

See guidance on accessing healthcare if you are visiting Ireland or living, studying and working in Ireland. British people who live in the UK can access state healthcare in Ireland.

You can view a list of healthcare providers in Ireland.

Health insurance cards

Apply for a free UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) before leaving the UK. If you already have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), it will still be valid as long as it remains in date.

The GHIC or EHIC entitles you to state-provided medical treatment necessary during your trip. Any treatment provided is on the same terms as Irish nationals. If you do not have your card with you or you’ve lost it, contact the NHS Overseas Healthcare Team.

It’s important to take out appropriate travel insurance for your needs. A GHIC or EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance and you should have both before you travel. A GHIC or EHIC does not cover all health-related costs, for example, medical repatriation, ongoing medical treatment and non-urgent treatment. Read more about what your travel insurance should cover.

GHIC and EHIC cover state healthcare only, not private treatment. You will be responsible for the cost of any treatment provided by a private doctor or private clinic.

Travel and mental health

Read FCDO guidance on travel and mental health. There is also mental health guidance on TravelHealthPro.

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) cannot provide tailored advice for individual trips. Read this travel advice and carry out your own research before deciding whether to travel.

Emergency services in Ireland

Telephone: 112 or 999 (ambulance, fire, police)

Irish Tourist Assistance Service (ITAS)

Telephone: +353 (0)1666 93 54

Contact your travel provider and insurer

Contact your travel provider and your insurer if you are involved in a serious incident or emergency abroad. They will tell you if they can help and what you need to do.

Refunds and changes to travel

For refunds or changes to travel, contact your travel provider. You may also be able to make a claim through insurance. However, insurers usually require you to talk to your travel provider first.

Find out more about changing or cancelling travel plans, including:

  • where to get advice if you are in a dispute with a provider
  • how to access previous versions of travel advice to support a claim

Support from FCDO

FCDO has guidance on staying safe and what to do if you need help or support abroad, including:

Contacting FCDO

Follow and contact FCDO travel on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You can also sign up to get email notifications when this travel advice is updated.

Help abroad in an emergency

If you are abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission.

You can also contact FCDO online.

FCDO in London

You can call FCDO in London if you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad.

Telephone: 020 7008 5000 (24 hours)

Find out about call charges.

Risk information for British companies

The Overseas Business Risk service offers information and advice for British companies operating overseas on how to manage political, economic, and business security-related risks.

Visa and passport information is updated regularly and is correct at the time of publishing. You should verify critical travel information independently with the relevant embassy before you travel.