Update to Covid-19 travel requirements into the State

1 December 2021

As part of Governments efforts to tackle the pandemic, the Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee TD, has signed an order that imposes new entry visa and transit visa requirements on passport holders from South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Namibia, and Lesotho. This order and the associated measures come into effect at midnight on 26 November 2021.

This move is in line with the latest public health advice regarding new Covid-19 variants of concern.

As of midnight 26 November 2021, in addition to countries who were visa required prior to that date, passport holders of the following countries are now also required to apply for an entry visa or transit visa, as appropriate, before travelling to Ireland:

  • South Africa (entry visa and transit visa required)
  • Botswana (entry visa and transit visa required)
  • Eswatini (entry visa and transit visa required)
  • Lesotho (entry visa and transit visa required)
  • Namibia (transit visa required – this country is already subject to an entry visa requirement and this requirement remains in place)

Visa applications from passport holders of the above countries (and from Zimbabwe and Mozambique which are already visa required) will be accepted and processed only where they meet the emergency/priority criteria set out below:

  • All long stay Employment applications, supported by a work permit or Atypical permission
  • Patients travelling for imperative medical reasons
  • Transport workers or transport service providers, including drivers of freight vehicles carrying goods for use in the territory as well as those merely transiting
  • Pupils, students and trainees who travel abroad on a daily basis and Third-country nationals travelling for the purpose of 3rd level study
  • Join Family visa applications
  • Preclearance applications from De Facto Partner of an Irish National, De Facto Partner of a Critical Skills Employment Permit Holder, or of a non EEA Researcher on a Hosting Agreement and Family members looking to join a UK National in Ireland
  • Persons travelling for imperative family* or business reasons
  • Persons entitled to avail of the provision of the EU Free Movement Directive
  • Diplomats, staff of international organisations and people invited by international organisations whose physical presence is required for the well-functioning of these organisations, military personnel and police officers, and humanitarian aid workers and civil protection personnel in the exercise of their functions
  • Passengers in transit
  • Seafarers
  • Journalists, when performing their duties

It is stated that Applicants seeking to travel for imperative family reasons are assessed on an individual basis and are largely confined to emergency cases that may arise in a family situation. Applications will be determined by examining the circumstances and supporting documentation of each case on an individual basis.

When making an application (if the applicant comes under one of the emergency/priority categories listed above), applicants are reminded to please keep in mind that Visa Offices and Missions abroad might be operating restricted hours due to local pandemic measures. This may impact on processing times.

Covid-19 Travel Update – Covid-19 Test now required

It has also been announced by Government that people arriving at Irish ports and airports will need a negative Covid-19 test from Friday 3 December.

Travellers can have either have a professional antigen test taken a maximum of 48 hours prior to arrival, or a PCR test taken up to 72 hours earlier.

The requirement for a negative test applies to all arrivals, including those from Britain.

It has been stated that the Department of Transport is in discussions with airlines and ferry companies to ensure certified antigen tests or PCR tests are checked before people board flights or boats to Ireland.

It is also understood that the Government plans is to introduce legislation allowing for the re-establishment of mandatory hotel quarantine later this week.

Eugene F Collins is closely monitoring the situation for any further developments and our immigration team is available to answer any of your queries.

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