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) Micheal Martin since June 2020.

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

Coronavirus travel health

Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Ireland on the TravelHealthPro website.

The Irish Government publishes information on cases at a national and local level on its COVID-19 Data Hub.

See the TravelHealthPro website for further advice on travel abroad and reducing spread of respiratory viruses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Entry and borders

See Entry requirements to find out what you will need to do when travelling to Ireland, including if you’re travelling between the UK, Isle of Man, Guernsey, Jersey and Ireland under Common Travel Area arrangements.

Returning to the UK

When you return, you must follow the rules for entering the UK.

Be prepared for your plans to change

No travel is risk-free during COVID. Countries may further restrict travel or bring in new rules at short notice, for example due to a new COVID-19 variant. Check with your travel company or airline for any transport changes which may delay your journey home.

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.

Plan ahead and make sure you:

  • can access money
  • understand what your insurance will cover
  • can make arrangements to extend your stay and be away for longer than planned

Public spaces and services

For up-to-date guidance on which restrictions are in place, and when changes will be made, please see the Irish Government website. This includes extensive detail on the measures in place with respect to a range of settings and activities including workplaces, hospitality, retail, transport, education, organised and social gatherings. In some settings you may be required to show a COVID-19 pass (vaccine or recovery certificate).

Ireland will accept the UK’s proof of COVID-19 recovery and vaccination record. If you are travelling with a printed PDF proof of vaccination status, it must date from 1 November to ensure that the certificate can be scanned successfully, if domestic certification is required. Your NHS appointment card from vaccination centres is not designed to be used as proof of vaccination and should not be used to demonstrate your vaccine status.

Face coverings

Face coverings are mandatory in retail outlets, banks, credit unions and post offices, in taxis, in bus and rail stations, on public transport and for workers in customer facing roles in cafés, bars and restaurants. The Irish government also recommends that face coverings are worn in crowded workplaces, places of worship and in busy or crowded outdoor spaces where there is significant congregation. For more information on exemptions and a complete list of settings where wearing a face covering is required, please see the Irish government website.

Healthcare in Ireland

If you’re in Ireland and think you have coronavirus symptoms, see advice from Ireland’s Department of Health.

For contact details for local doctors, visit our list of healthcare providers.

Your emotional and mental wellbeing is important. Read guidance on how to look after your mental wellbeing and mental health.

View Health for further details on healthcare in Ireland.

COVID-19 vaccines if you live in Ireland

Wherever possible British nationals should aim to be vaccinated in the country where they live. We will update this page when the Government of Ireland announces new information on the national vaccination programme. You can sign up to get email notifications when this page is updated.

Ireland’s national vaccination programme started in December 2020 and is using the AstraZeneca, Janssen (Johnson and Johnson), Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. British nationals resident in Ireland are eligible for vaccination. For information on Ireland’s vaccine programme please go to the Irish Government website.

To register with a GP practice please consult the Irish College of General Practitioners website for a list of GPs with phone contact information.

Find out more, including about vaccines that are authorised in the UK or approved by the World Health Organisation, on the COVID-19 vaccines if you live abroad.
If you’re a British national living in Ireland, you should seek medical advice from your local healthcare provider. Information about COVID-19 vaccines used in the national programme where you live, including regulatory status, should be available from local authorities.

If you receive your COVID-19 vaccination in Ireland, you can get an EU Digital COVID Certificate from the national authorities. The Certificate proves that you have been vaccinated against COVID-19, received a negative test result, or recovered from COVID-19. It will help facilitate your travel within the EU and, in some countries, you can use it to demonstrate your COVID-19 status to businesses and other organisations. For further information visit the European Commission’s EU Digital COVID Certificate page.

Finance

For information on financial support you can access whilst abroad, visit our financial assistance guidance.

Further information

If you need urgent consular assistance, contact your nearest British embassy, high commission or consulate. All telephone numbers are available 24/7.

Crime

Most visitors to Ireland experience no difficulties during their stay. Take sensible precautions to protect yourself from bag snatching and pick pocketing. Try to avoid carrying valuables and large sums of money. Make sure your vehicle is properly secured, and where possible park in secure parking areas.  Most incidents occur in the Dublin area. If you need to contact the emergency services call 112.

The Irish Tourist Assistance Service (ITAS) offers free support and practical help to victims of crime. This includes liaison with travel companies and financial institutions and, in emergency situations, arranging accommodation, meals and transport. ITAS recommends that you report any incident in person to the nearest Garda (Police) Station who will then contact the organisation.

Road travel

In 2019 there were 141 road deaths in Ireland (source: Department for Transport).
This equates to 2.9 road deaths per 100,000 of population and compares to the UK average of 2.6 road deaths per 100,000 of population in 2019.

Don’t drink and drive. You may be heavily penalised or even imprisoned if you are found driving over the limit. New legal limits were introduced in October 2011. The new limit is 50 mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood (0.05%) for fully licensed drivers, and 20 mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood (0.02%) for professional, learner and novice drivers. The police conduct random breath-tests on drivers. Holding and using a mobile phone whilst driving is banned.

If you relocate to Ireland you must register your vehicle within a week of arriving. Your car may be impounded if you fail to do so. 

See the European Commission, AA and RAC guides on driving in Ireland.

If you are planning to drive in Ireland, see information on Driving Abroad.

Driving a British car abroad

You do not need a GB sticker or a UK sticker to drive a UK registered car in Ireland. Check the GOV.UK Displaying number plates website for more information on what to do if you are driving outside the UK before, on or after 28th September 2021.

Although there’s no recent history of terrorism in Ireland, attacks can’t be ruled out.

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 more about the global threat from terrorism.

There is a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.

Don’t become involved with drugs of any kind. Possession of even small quantities can lead to a long term of imprisonment. Don’t offer to carry any items for anyone else when entering or leaving Ireland.

Attitudes in Ireland towards LGBT people are liberal. Same-sex marriage is legal in Ireland and rights are protected by legislation tackling discrimination. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.

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

The authorities in Ireland set and enforce entry rules. For further information contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to. You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet requirements.

Common Travel Area

If you are a British or Irish citizen, find more information on travelling between the UK, Isle of Man, Guernsey, Jersey or Ireland under the Common Travel Area arrangements.

Entry rules in response to coronavirus (COVID-19) for passengers travelling to Ireland from Great Britain

Travellers arriving into Ireland from Great Britain, or from all other countries, should follow the Irish government guidance. There are specific arrangements for travellers whose journey originates in Northern Ireland (see below).

Post-arrival quarantine is no longer required upon entry to Ireland for any category of traveller but there are pre-departure requirements in place.

Passenger Locator Form

All travellers to Ireland must fill out a Passenger Locator Form before departure. Failure to complete this form is an offence. See Irish Government guidance on completing the form online, who is exempt, and penalties for failure to submit an online form. The Passenger Locator Form will be checked by air or sea carriers before departure. Individuals travelling from Great Britain to Ireland via Northern Ireland should also complete a Passenger Locator Form. Passengers will also be asked for proof of vaccination or recovery, or to present evidence of a negative RT-PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to arrival in the country.

Travelling when fully vaccinated

Travellers arriving into Ireland from Great Britain with valid proof of full vaccination, or with proof of recovery from COVID-19 within 180 days, will not require travel-related testing.

Fully vaccinated or recovered passengers travelling from Great Britain to Ireland will need to have proof of their full vaccination or recovery record. (See ‘Demonstrating your COVID-19 status’).

For more information on the Irish Government’s definition of fully vaccinated, see the Irish Government website. On 15 November the Irish Government expanded its list of approved vaccinations and vaccine combinations for travel purposes.

Demonstrating your COVID-19 status

Ireland will accept the UK’s proof of COVID-19 recovery and vaccination record. If you are travelling with a printed PDF proof of vaccination status, it must date from 1 November to ensure that the certificate can be scanned successfully. Your NHS appointment card from vaccination centres is not designed to be used as proof of vaccination and should not be used to demonstrate your vaccine status.

Travelling when not fully vaccinated

For those without valid proof of vaccination or COVID recovery within 180 days, you will need to: present evidence of a negative RT-PCR test result within 72 hours prior to arrival into the country.

Non RT-PCR tests are not accepted when travelling to Ireland and passengers with a Digital COVID Certificate based on a non RT-PCR test (for example, antigen tests) require proof of an additional negative RT-PCR test taken no more than 72 hours before arrival.

If you arrive in Ireland without proof of vaccination, proof recovery or a valid RT-PCR test result, you will be required to take a test within 36 hours of arrival.

There are specific exemptions to the above. You should visit the Irish government website for more details.

Travelling with children

Children under the age of 12 will not need to take a PCR test prior to travelling to Ireland.

Children between the ages of 12 and 17 will be required to have a negative RT-PCR test, taken within 72 hours prior to arrival to travel into the country, unless they have valid proof of vaccination or recovery.

Travelling to Ireland from Northern Ireland

If you’re travelling to Ireland from Northern Ireland and have not been outside of Northern Ireland or Ireland in the past 14-days, you do not need a Passenger Locator Form, proof of vaccination, recovery or test results upon arrival into Ireland.

If you have been outside of Northern Ireland or Ireland in the past 14 days, you are subject to the requirements based on your travel history and vaccination or recovery status.

Regular entry requirements

ID

Ireland, along with the UK, is a member of the Common Travel Area. British nationals travelling from the UK don’t need a passport to visit Ireland. However, Irish immigration officers will check the ID of all passengers arriving by air from the UK and may ask for proof of nationality, particularly if you were born outside the UK. You are therefore advised to take your British passport with you.

For more information about the types of ID you might be asked to present, see the website of the Ireland Citizens Information Board.

Before travelling, check with your carrier about their ID requirements, as most airlines and other transport providers won’t carry passengers to and from Ireland unless they’ve seen satisfactory photographic ID.

Passport validity

If you’re using a passport to enter Ireland, it should be valid and in date. You should also checking your air or sea carrier’s terms and conditions of travel. For journeys on the island of Ireland, British and Irish citizens do not require any travel documents when crossing the land border.

UK Emergency Travel Documents

UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are accepted for entry into, transit through, and exit from Ireland.

Travelling with pets

Read the Irish government’s entry requirements for your pet.

If you wish to travel with a pet to the EU, please read our guidance.

If your pet passport was issued in an EU Member State it remains valid for travel to Ireland.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Ireland on the TravelHealthPro website.

See the healthcare information in the Coronavirus section for information on what to do if you think you have coronavirus while in Ireland.

At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the latest country-specific health advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the TravelHealthPro website. Each country-specific page has information on vaccine recommendations, any current health risks or outbreaks, and factsheets with information on staying healthy abroad. Guidance is also available from NHS (Scotland) on the FitForTravel website.

General information on travel vaccinations and a travel health checklist are available on the NHS website. You may then wish to contact your health adviser or pharmacy for advice on other preventive measures and managing any pre-existing medical conditions while you’re abroad.

The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or purchased in the UK can be different in other countries. If you’re travelling with prescription or over-the-counter medicine, read this guidance from NaTHNaC on best practice when travelling with medicines. For further information on the legal status of a specific medicine, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.

While travel can be enjoyable, it can sometimes be challenging. There are clear links between mental and physical health, so looking after yourself during travel and when abroad is important. Information on travelling with mental health conditions is available in our guidance page. Further information is also available from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC).

Healthcare

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 999 or 112 and ask for an ambulance. If you are referred to a medical facility for treatment you should contact your insurance/medical assistance company immediately.

If you are a British or Irish citizen, you have the right to access healthcare in either state. When visiting you also have the right to access needs-arising healthcare during your stay. Both Governments have committed to taking steps to ensure that this will continue. More information about healthcare for UK nationals living in and visiting Ireland is available on the NHS website.

It is important to take out comprehensive travel insurance that includes cover for medical treatment and associated costs. Read more about what your travel insurance should cover.

If you’re living in Ireland, you can also find more information on healthcare for residents in the Living In Ireland guide.

The currency of Ireland is the Euro.

Check before you travel that your bank cash card can be used in ATM machines in Ireland.

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) in London on 020 7008 5000 (24 hours).

Foreign travel checklist

Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.

Travel safety

The FCDO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.

When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCDO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.

Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.

Refunds and cancellations

If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.

For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Registering your travel details with us

We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.

Previous versions of FCDO travel advice

If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCDO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. Versions prior to 2 September 2020 will be archived as FCO travel advice. If you can’t find the page you’re looking for there, send the Travel Advice Team a request.

Further help

If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.

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.