Ireland is actually quite easy, paperwork wise, for visitors from North America and western Europe to travel to for vacation.
What Documents Do You Need to Enter Ireland?
Most visitors need a valid passport to enter both the Republic of Ireland or Northern Ireland. Your passport must be valid for the length of your trip to Ireland. Your passport must also have at least one blank page for your entry stamp.
Citizens of the United Kingdom can also use official photo identification.
EU citizens can use their national identity card to travel through Ireland, including Northern Ireland, as long as they arrive and depart via an airport or ferry port in the Republic of Ireland. If an EU citizen travels to or from Northern Ireland directly, a passport is required.
TIP: be sure to check what form of ID is required by your travel provider (airline, ferry, cruise) before traveling.
Americans and all non-EU citizens entering Ireland with a passport can remain in Ireland for 90 days if their passport is valid for that period.
If you plan to stay longer than 3 months you must apply to extend your visitor permission. More information can be found on the Irish Immigration website.
Does My Child Need a Passport to Travel to Ireland?
Regulations for adults apply to children as well. Children must have a valid passport to visit Ireland.
Children from the UK or EU must have valid travel documents.
Do I Need a Visa to Visit Ireland?
24 countries currently require a tourist visa to enter Ireland. Requirements vary for these countries and the best information to understand what citizens of these countries need to visit Ireland is found at the Visit Ireland – Tourist Path page of the Irish Immigration website.
What Documents Do I Need to Enter Northern Ireland?
There is no hard border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland so if you plan to visit the North by car or rail there are no passport checkpoints or additional need to show paperwork.
Travelers arriving in Northern Ireland by air or sea will comply with UK travel regulations.
As in Ireland, most visitors arriving in Northern Ireland are required to have a valid passport and can remain up to 3 months with no additional visa needed.
For more information on visiting the UK as a Standard Visitor and visa requirements refer to the visas & immigration page at GOV.UK.
Do I Need Travel Insurance to Visit Ireland?
My advice on travel insurance: if you can't afford to lose the money a cancelled trip will cause, then you should probably look into trip insurance.
You can buy travel insurance to cover practically anything you will encounter on a vacation.
Read the policy carefully before you buy. You can expect to pay between 5-10% of your total trip cost for a decent policy. Look for the “Cancel for any reason” clause; you'll pay more for it, but it may be worth it if you can't take your trip- for any reason.
Do You Need Travel Insurance for an Ireland Vacation? Click here to find out.
Obtaining a US Passport (for US citizens only)
Obtaining a passport is relatively painless, quite akin to getting a driver's license as both agencies are run by the US government and require standing in slow moving lines and a wait period until you actually receive the passport.
You can make the process move a bit quicker if you arrive prepared:
- Have photos done beforehand. You can have passport images taken at Walgreens and many independent photo labs for under $20. AAA members can have them taken free of charge.
Do not take the images at home; the government is very particular about size, background, head size, smiling, etc.)
- Download and fill out the necessary paperwork. Download US passport forms here.
- Remember your forms of ID: proof of US citizenship (Certified birth certificate issued by the city, county or state; Consular Report of Birth Abroad or Certification of Birth; Naturalization Certificate; Certificate of Citizenship) and present identification (valid drivers license; government or military ID; naturalization certificate). You should also bring a photo copy of each document.
- Children require passports, too, with a bit more paperwork. Both parents must be with the child when the passport is applied for. Additional paperwork includes evidence of parental relationship (certified birth certificate or adoption decree), present IDs for both parents + photocopies and parental consent.
Note: Children's passports are valid 5 years and do cost less.
- First time applicants will pay an application fee + an application fee. If applying at a post office you will also pay shipping charges. Renewals are a single fee.
- Plan ahead. Though a passport should only take 4-6 weeks to reach you, it can take longer. I recommend a 2-3 month window.