Permission to enter Ireland
Ireland has rules and laws about who can enter the country. If you are a citizen of a country that is outside the European Economic Area (EEA), Switzerland or the UK, you have to have permission to enter Ireland.
You get permission to enter Ireland from an immigration officer at the airport or ferry port where you enter Ireland. If you enter Ireland through Northern Ireland, you must get permission to enter after your arrival. You may also need to apply for and be granted a visa to enter Ireland (see ‘Non-EEA nationals and permission to enter Ireland’ below).
An immigration officer can refuse permission for you to enter Ireland, even if you have a visa or residence permission in Ireland.
Ireland is not part of the Schengen Area. This means that you must have a national passport or national identity card to enter Ireland from the EEA.
Travel with a child aged under 18: The Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) has published advice for people travelling to Ireland with a minor who is not their child or who has a different surname.
Entering Ireland during COVID-19
You should only travel to Ireland if you have an essential reason for doing so.
You can read about:
EEA, UK and Swiss nationals and permission to enter Ireland
EEA, and Swiss citizens have the right to move freely in the EEA, and you can only be refused permission to enter Ireland in very limited situations:
- You are suffering from a serious contagious disease which poses a serious threat to the population
- Your past behaviour, including any criminal convictions you may have, is deemed to pose a substantial risk to public security or public policy
UK citizens can travel freely to Ireland as part of the Common Travel Area.
You do not have to register with the immigration authorities as EEA and Swiss nationals have specific rights to live and work in Ireland.
If you are travelling with family members who are not citizens of the EEA, UK or Switzerland, they need to have permission to enter and may have to apply for a visa.
Non-EEA nationals and permission to enter Ireland
If you are a national of any other country (other than the United Kingdom), you must get permission to enter when you arrive in Ireland.
You may have to get a visa before you can travel to Ireland. A visa is a type of preclearance that allows you to travel to Ireland. You still have to get permission to enter Ireland at your port of entry to the State even if you have a valid visa.
If you do not need a visa to enter Ireland, you have to get pre-clearance before you travel to Ireland if you are moving here because:
- You plan to practice as a minister of religion
- You are a volunteer
- You are the spouse or partner of a Critical Skills Employment Permit holder
- You are the de facto partner of an Irish citizen (this means you are in a relationship with an Irish citizen that is like a marriage, but you are not married to them)
- You are joining or accompanying your UK national family member
If your preclearance application is successful, you will be granted a letter of approval or preclearance letter. This must be presented to the immigration officer at border control when you arrival in Ireland. An Immigration Officer at border control can refuse you entry even if you have a preclearance letter and visa.
Preparing for entering Ireland
You must have a passport or recognised travel document if you are coming from a country outside the EEA. You may also need to have a visa.
You should have proof of the reasons you are coming to Ireland. The documents you need depend on the purpose of your trip. If you are visiting Ireland for a short period, you should have:
- Proof that you have money to support yourself and your dependents
- Proof of where you are staying while you are in Ireland
- A return ticket to go back to the country where you normally live
- Proof that you are working or studying in your home country, or have other important things (for example, family commitments) to return to
If you plan to travel to the UK as well, you must have permission to enter the UK before you come to Ireland.
If you are moving to Ireland, you have to show that you meet the requirements for your reasons for moving here. Some examples of the reasons for travelling to Ireland are:
Being refused permission to enter Ireland
The immigration officer may refuse your permission to enter Ireland if the immigration officer believes:
- You are not in a position to support yourself and any dependants arriving with you
- You intend to take up employment and you do not have a permit
- You suffer from certain specified conditions - these include TB, other infectious diseases, drug addiction and profound mental disturbance (this is defined as “manifest conditions of psychotic disturbance with agitation, delirium, hallucinations or confusion”)
- You have been convicted of an offence which carries a penalty of a year’s imprisonment or more
- You are obliged to have a visa and you do not have one
- You are the subject of a deportation order, an exclusion order or similar order
- You do not have a valid passport
- You intend to travel to Great Britain or Northern Ireland and you do not have a right to enter there
- Your entry or presence in Ireland could pose a threat to national security or be contrary to public policy
- You have come to Ireland for a different reason than you have given the immigration officer
If you are refused permission to enter you must be given the reasons in writing.
What happens if I am refused entry to Ireland?
If you are refused permission to enter Ireland, you may be detained in prison.
If your solicitor thinks that the refusal was unlawful, they may apply to court for an injunction to stop you from being deported. This is a type of court order that prevents the deportation from going ahead while the court decides if the refusal was lawful.
You may be deported back to the country where you normally live.
If you are granted permission to enter
You may be given permission to enter but with conditions attached. For example, you may only be allowed to stay for a stated period.
The immigration officer may grant you a visitor permission which allows you to stay for a maximum of 3 months. In certain unforeseen circumstances, this visitor permission may be extended.
If you wish to stay in Ireland for longer than this, you must apply for permission to remain by registering with your local immigration office. In Dublin this is the Burgh Quay Registration Office and outside Dublin it is your regional registration office or local garda district headquarters – see ‘Where to apply’ below. You can read more in our document, Registration of non-EEA nationals in Ireland.
However, visa-required nationals who have entered Ireland on a C (or ‘short stay’) visa cannot extend their permission to remain, unless they were granted a C visa to join an EEA family member. They must leave and apply for a D visa from outside Ireland if they wish to return.