COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Ireland is a highly developed democracy with a modern economy. Tourist facilities are widely available. Read the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Ireland for additional information on U.S.-Ireland relations.
SMART TRAVELER ENROLLMENT PROGRAM (STEP) / EMBASSY LOCATION: If you are going to live in or visit Ireland, please take the time to tell our embassy about your trip. If you enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements. It will also help your friends and family get in touch with you in an emergency.
U.S. Embassy Dublin
42 Elgin Road
Emergency after-hours telephone: 353-1-630-6200
ENTRY / EXIT REQUIREMENTS FOR U.S. CITIZENS: You will need your valid passport to enter Ireland, but you will not need a visa for tourist or business stays of up to three months. Visit the Embassy of Ireland website for the most current visa information. You may also contact the Irish Embassy at 2234 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20008, Tel: 1-202-462-3939, or the Irish consulate nearest you; these are located in Boston, Chicago, New York, San Francisco, and Atlanta.
Irish Immigration strictly enforces national immigration laws and regulations. You will be expected to present all documentation relating to the purpose of your trip to Ireland to the Irish Immigration officer upon your entry into Ireland. Irish Immigration may grant a stay of up to three months; however, they may grant a lesser period than three months depending on the documentation provided. In the past few years, an increased number of U.S. citizens have been refused entry or have been granted only a limited stay because they failed to comply with and/or satisfy Irish immigration laws. Some cases have also involved other EU states’ immigration authorities when U.S. citizens traveling from Ireland to another EU state have been deported back to Ireland due to visa-related matters.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Ireland.
Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page.
THREATS TO SAFETY AND SECURITY: Travelers should exercise sound personal safety practices to minimize their chance of becoming a victim of petty street crime. Travelers should be aware of their surroundings and avoid unlighted, non-tourist areas
We remind you that even demonstrations and protests intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and possibly escalate into violence. You should avoid the areas of such gatherings if possible, and be careful within the vicinity of any demonstrations. You should stay current with media coverage of local events and be aware of your surroundings at all times.
Travelers to Northern Ireland from the Republic of Ireland should consult the Country Specific Information for the United Kingdom and Gibraltar for more detailed information. Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom but shares a mostly unpatrolled land border with the Republic of Ireland.
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CRIME: A Garda Síochána (Garda), translated as "Guardians of the Peace of Ireland,” is the national police force providing all state security, policing and immigration enforcement duties countrywide. Ireland has a relatively low rate of violent crime. Petty crime and residential crime is much more common, especially in urban and tourist areas. Rates for residential break-ins, theft, burglary, and purse-snatching have all risen in recent years, and thieves often target rental cars and tourists, particularly in the vicinity of tourist attractions. In rare cases, these crimes have involved physical assault or violence, more commonly in Dublin. Avoid parks after dark and avoid showing signs of affluence in addition to guarding your valuables, passport and wallet. We recommend you leave your passport in a secure location separate from your purse or luggage. Do not leave your drinks unattended at bars or restaurants, as there have been reported incidents of drinks being spiked with illegal substances, leading to robbery and sexual assaults. Please practice sound personal security practices and maintain an awareness of your surroundings during your stay in Ireland.
ATM Fraud: Crimes involving ATMs are a concern. Protect your PIN at all times and look closely at ATMs for evidence of tampering before use. Criminals have used “skimmers” on ATMs, especially in tourist areas. Skimmers are usually small electronic devices attached to the outside of an ATM to steal the ATM or credit card data. Most ATMs in Ireland now have signs or electronic warnings that advise customers to look closely at the ATM for evidence of tampering before using. Be aware that in busy areas, thieves use distraction techniques such as waiting until the PIN has been entered and then pointing to money on the ground or asking for loose change. While the ATM user is distracted, another person will quickly withdraw the cash and leave. If you are distracted in any way, cancel the transaction immediately. If the machine does not return your card, report the incident to the issuing bank right away.
Internet scams: Online fraud scams have been reported in recent years, and travelers should verify through local authorities, family, or friends, the authenticity of any solicited or unsolicited requests for assistance. If you receive an email from family or friends requesting assistance, we advise you to try first to contact the loved one at the last known phone number and/or to verify the story/circumstances with a neutral third party you know and trust before sending any funds.You should view with skepticism any unsolicited invitations to travel to Ireland to collect winnings or an inheritance. There are no licenses or fees required when transiting Irish airports, emergency medical treatment is never withheld pending payment of fees, and hotels in Ireland will not detain guests for lack of funds without involving the police. A claim that a hospital or hotel will not let someone depart until the bill is settled is usually a sign of a scam. Visit the U.S. Department of State's website for more information on International Internet Financial Scams and how to protect yourself.
Do not buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal to bring back into the United States, you may be breaking local law, too.
VICTIMS OF CRIME: If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. We can:
The Irish Tourist Assistance Service (ITAS) is a free nationwide service offering support and assistance to tourists who are victimized while visiting Ireland. If you are a tourist victim of crime, report the incident to the nearest Garda Station (police station), which will contact ITAS. All tourist victims are referred to ITAS by the police.
The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Ireland is 999 and/or 112. The number 112 is used throughout the EU and is accessible from any phone, free of charge.
Please see our information on victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While you are traveling in Ireland, you are subject to local laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different from our own. If you break local laws in Ireland, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It is very important to know what’s legal and what’s not where you are going. In some circumstances, driving under the influence could land you immediately in jail. These criminal penalties will vary from country to country. There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit, but still illegal in the United States. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime in Ireland and also prosecutable in the United States.
Persons violating Ireland’s laws, including its tough drunk-driving rules, even unknowingly, may be arrested, imprisoned and/or deported. Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking illegal drugs in Ireland are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.
Arrest notifications in host country: Based on the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, bilateral agreements with certain countries, and customary international law, if you are arrested in Ireland you have the option to request that the police, prison officials, or other authorities alert the U.S. Embassy of your arrest.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Most Irish banks will not accept U.S. $100 bills. Many Irish financial institutions have recently stopped accepting or cashing traveler’s checks. Credit cards are widely accepted throughout Ireland. ATMs are widely available, but some, particularly in rural areas, may not accept debit cards from U.S. banks.
Some airlines have advised their passengers that their passport must remain valid for six months after their entry into Ireland; however, the Government of Ireland states that this is a recommendation of the airline industry and is not an Irish legal requirement. Travelers must be in possession of a valid passport to enter Ireland.
LGBT Rights: For information on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) travel, please read our Information for LGBT Travelers page.
Accessibility: While in Ireland, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from what you find in the United States. Irish law requires access to public buildings for persons with disabilities, and this requirement is enforced. Under Irish law, public service providers should ensure the service is accessible to those with mobility, sensory, and/or cognitive impairments. Significant changes have been made in recent years to having an accessible public transportation system. People who live in Ireland and meet the medical conditions of a disability allowance may apply for free travel passes; there is also a blind/invalidity pension from the Irish Department of Social Protection for those who qualify. The majority of buses and trains in the main city areas of Ireland are now equipped for those with limited-mobility, sight, or hearing disabilities, although some train stations and pathways may not be as easily accessible. Local authorities and commercial premises such as shopping outlets have no legal obligation to provide external disabled parking facilities for their customers; however, on-street parking, public building parking lots, and internal parking lots always have a certain number of disabled spaces available.
Mainline and suburban trains require special portable ramps to permit boarding from the platforms to the carriages. These are available at all terminal points and major junctions and stations that have staff on duty. They are also available on some trains. Travelers are advised to contact the local railway station in advance to ensure such facilities are available. The website for Dublin Bus provides information on its travel assistance scheme. Regional and intercity bus services are provided by Bus Eireann.
All service providers at state airports are required to have specific facilities for air travelers with disabilities. Air travelers are advised to notify the airline/airport authority in advance if they require any specific facilities.
There are many resources available online for those with mobility, sensory and cognitive impairments traveling to, or living in Ireland. You may contact our consular office by email at email@example.com for further information on this topic.
MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: Modern medical facilities and highly skilled medical practitioners are available in Ireland, but due to high demand, access to medical specialists and admissions to hospitals for certain non-life-threatening medical conditions may result in extensive waiting lists. It is not unusual for emergency room (ER) services to be very busy or for post-treatment admissions to include a long wait (sometimes overnight) on a gurney in a hallway rather than in a shared or private room.
Over-the-counter medications of most types are available, but many U.S. brands are not. (Ask the pharmacist about substitutes.) Some medications available over the counter in the United States may require a prescription in Ireland. Irish pharmacists may not be able to dispense medication prescribed by U.S. physicians and may direct you to obtain a prescription from an Irish doctor before providing your required medication.
If you are traveling to Ireland and may require medical treatment while in the country, consult your personal physician prior to traveling. A list of Irish general practitioners in each area of Ireland may be obtained from the website of the Irish College of General Practitioners. Emergency services usually respond quickly.
You can find detailed information on vaccinations and other health precautions on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization (WHO) website, which also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: You can’t assume your insurance will go with you when you travel. It’s very important to find out BEFORE you leave whether or not your medical insurance will cover you overseas. You need to ask your insurance company two questions:
In many places, doctors and hospitals still expect payment in cash at the time of service. Your regular U.S. health insurance may not cover doctor and hospital visits in other countries. If your policy doesn’t go with you when you travel, it’s a very good idea to take out another one for your trip. For more information, please see our medical insurance overseas page.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: Motorists drive on the left side of the road in Ireland, and road conditions can differ significantly from those in the United States. If you do not have experience driving on the left, you should be especially cautious as tourists driving on the incorrect side of the road are the cause of several serious accidents each year. Most intersections in Ireland use circular “roundabouts” instead of signals, and it is important that motorists pay close attention to signs and yield the right of way to those already in the roundabout. At signals, turning on a red light is illegal; you must wait for either a full green (any direction turn permitted) or directional green light (which could be straight, left, or right) before proceeding with caution. Most rental cars in Ireland have manual transmission; it can be difficult to find automatic transmission rental cars.
Road conditions are generally good, but once you exit the main highways, country roads are likely to be narrow, uneven, and winding. Roads are more dangerous during the summer and on holiday weekends due to increased traffic. Police periodically set up road blocks to check for drunk drivers. Penalties for driving under the influence can be severe.
You may use your existing U.S. driving license in Ireland for a temporary stay; this can be for any period of time up to a maximum of one year. Some insurance and car rental companies may request an International Driving Permit in addition to your existing driving license. If you wish to apply for an International Driving Permit, please contact the American Automobile Association. You are required to apply for an Irish driving license if you become a resident of Ireland.
More information on driving in Ireland can be found on U.S. Embassy Dublin’s website. For specific information concerning Irish driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, please visit the official tourism guide for Ireland.
Taxi rates vary with time of day and location. Ask your hotel or innkeeper for the number of a call-dispatched taxi service if you plan to be out during less busy times. Bus service in the cities is generally adequate, although many buses are crowded and they frequently run late. Pay close attention to where bus stops are in both directions, as the drop-off and pick-up locations could be several blocks away from each other. Intercity bus and train services are generally good.
Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information. Also, we suggest that you visit the website of the Irish Tourism Board, Discover Ireland, and the website for the National Roads Authority of Ireland, which is responsible for road safety.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Ireland’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Ireland’s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.
This replaces the Country Specific Information for Ireland dated June 11, 2012 to update sections on Threats to Safety and Security and Crime.