VISA WAIVER PROGRAMME
The Short-stay Visa Waiver Programme was announced by the
Government as part of its Jobs Initiative with a view to promoting
tourism from emerging markets. It has been extended
until the end of October 2016.
The main points of the programme are:
Holders of UK “general visas” will be able to travel to Ireland
within the period of validity of that visa without the requirement
to obtain a separate Irish visa. The period of validity of
such a visa is 180 days but the maximum stay in Ireland will be 90
days or to the end of the period of validity of the visa, whichever
is the shorter. It should be stressed that the need for
a visa to visit Ireland is not eliminated by this programme.
Visitors from visa-required countries will still require an Irish
visa (for direct travel to Ireland) or a UK visa (for travel to
Ireland via the UK). What is eliminated by this programme is
the need to have both an Irish and UK visa when
visiting Ireland via the UK.
The person travelling will be required to land in and have gained
lawful entry to the UK, on foot of the current visa, prior to
travel to Ireland. Lawful entry will be attested by the
appropriate entry stamp of the UK Border Agency. Therefore,
transit passengers through the UK to Ireland, who do not pass
through immigration in the UK, will still require an Irish
visa. There is no minimum length of stay in the UK required
before travel to Ireland.
The persons travelling to Ireland under the programme will be
treated at their Irish port of entry just as they would have been
previously if arriving with an Irish visa i.e. their passport will
be further stamped by immigration officers at the Irish port of
entry with an entry stamp and a date until which the visitor is
allowed to stay. Visitors will have to satisfy immigration
officers as to the purpose of their visit in the normal way.
A person may return to Ireland within the period of validity of the
UK visa but will not be able to stay in Ireland for more than 90
days in any one visit. As above, the immigration officer at
port of entry has the ultimate decision on the length of stay.
In relation to persons travelling between Ireland and Northern
Ireland, the following scenarios will apply:
If arriving in Ireland and then travelling to Northern Ireland,
both an Irish and UK visa will be required, as is the case at
If arriving in Northern Ireland and travelling to Ireland, the visa
waiver programme will apply and only a UK visa will be required
If arriving in Ireland, travelling to Northern Ireland and then
returning to Ireland, both an Irish and UK visa will be required
but the UK visa will be accepted under the programme for the return
If arriving in Northern Ireland, travelling to Ireland and then
returning to Northern Ireland, the visa waiver programme will apply
to the visit to Ireland but the appropriate UK visa will be
required to allow a second entry into Northern Ireland
The person may travel out of the Common Travel Area from either
Ireland or the UK but this must happen before the expiry of the
stamp issued by the immigration officer on arrival in Ireland (if
leaving from Ireland) or the expiration of the UK visa (if leaving
from the UK).
“General visas” cover short-term tourist and business visitors.
Other types of visa, for example transit visas, long-term student
visas, join spouse or family reunification visas, are not
Nationals of the following countries are proposed for inclusion in
Belarus, Montenegro, Russian Federation, Serbia, Turkey and Ukraine
Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab
India, Kazakhstan, Peoples Republic of China, Uzbekistan
Only passport holders of those countries are included in the
scheme. Long-term residents in those countries, who are not
nationals of that country, are not covered. Arrangements are
being made for holders of diplomatic and special passports from
Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, who are visa exempt for
the UK, to be included in the programme.
Persons from the countries above intending to travel to the UK
prior to 1 July, if they wish to travel onwards to Ireland, should
obtain an Irish visa in the normal way. Persons intending to
travel to the UK from 1 July onwards will be able to avail of the
visa waiver programme. In the event that the programme is
delayed or a particular country is removed from the list above,
persons from the listed countries above will still be able to apply
in the UK for a visa to Ireland. Should a person have any
concerns about their travel dates and therefore their eligibility
under this scheme, it would be advisable for them to obtain an
Irish visa prior to travelling to the UK.
Nationals of the countries above, who are long-term legal residents
in the UK will still require an Irish visa but will have the visa
fee waived as part of the programme.