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Visa Requirements For Entering Ireland (and a funny story)

Welcome to Ireland sign at Shannon Airport

A few years ago I was passing through Shannon Airport on my way back home for a visit. I had gone through the passport check, and was waiting on the other side of the immigration kiosks while my wife was being processed. There was a tourist at the desk next to her, and for some reason he had presented 2 passports to the Irish officer on duty. I could tell his English was pretty much non-existant, and he for sure couldn’t understand the thick Irish accent of the immigration officer.
The officer was grilling the guy quite sternly (not sure why due to the language barrier), and next thing I hear is him shouting “How could you have 2 birthdays? Not even Our Lord Himself has two birthdays!”
From what I could tell the passports he presented were showing birth dates that did not match!
I couldn’t help but laugh at the situation, but felt pretty sorry for the guy as I could tell he had no idea what had been said, or what was happening. The riled up officer gestured at him to sit while he contacted his embassy.
I would’ve loved to have found out how it all panned out, but I’m guessing there was either a big misunderstanding, or the unassuming tourist was sent packing. Irish immigration can be a bit lax at times, but having 2 passports, with different birth dates, is sure to earn you some special treatment.

Enough about that…

The entry requirements for Ireland are quite simple really. Depending on where you’re coming from, you may or may not need an entry visa in addition to your passport. There are also a few nationalities whereby a transit visa is required if you’re just passing through on your way somewhere else.

My guess is that most people reading this won’t need anything other than their passport (just one :)). If you’re a citizen of any other EU country, the United States, Australia, New Zealand and many parts of Asia and South America, you do not need to have first applied for an Irish travel visa. You basically just need to show up with a valid passport and you’ll soon be on your way to enjoy the beautiful Irish countryside.

Visa required or not, everyone has to pass through immigration control. My experience is that they are usually pretty pleasant, and they won’t give you the run-around without good reason. I have observed though, that even though the maximum amount of time they can stamp your passport for is 90 days, a lot of them will ask you how long you are planning on staying in Ireland, and stamp it for that exact amount of time, or for a few days after your planned departure date. Err on the side of caution when giving your planned departure date unless you know that it is set in stone.

Recently a new short-term Visa Waiver scheme was launched to allow nationals of 16 countries free passage into Ireland, provided they had first applied for, and received, a short-term UK visa. You can find full details, and the list of countries that this program applies to, at the link below.

There is also the issue of re-entry to Ireland. If you needed a visa to enter Ireland in the first place, and you plan on leaving for any length of time, which can include trips to Northern Ireland, you will most likely need a re-entry permit.

Of course I am no authority on this matter, and because these types of requirements can change at any time, I am giving you very limited information here. However, if you want to get the most current information and requirements regarding Irish immigration control, including any of the topics I mentioned above, your best bet is to either contact your local Irish embassy, or check out this page on the Irish Citizen Information website.

Enjoy your trip, be safe, and celebrate your birthday just once per year :)

“Welcome to Ireland” image credit