Irish (Gaelic) and English are the official languages of the Republic of Ireland; street and road signs are all billingual. In Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking) areas, road signs may only be displayed in Irish and Irish is spoken daily, though everyone speaks English as well. In Northern Ireland, English is the official language. The Irish language is also taught in many schools and summer schools. Ulster-Scots is spoken by some in Northern Ireland.
UK citizens do not require a passport or visa to enter Ireland, however, most air and sea carriers require some form of photographic identification (ID), such as passport or driving licence. Visitors are advised to check which form of ID is required with the individual airline, ferry company, tour operator or travel agent before travelling. Non-UK nationals must have a valid passport or national ID card as appropriate. Visitors of other nationalities should contact their local Irish Embassy/Consulate or their local British Embassy, High Commisssion or Consular Office in Northern Ireland with any queries.
Embassies and consulates
Republic of Ireland
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade: Tel: + 353 (0) 1 408 2000 or
Passport and Visa Office in the UK: Tel +44 (0) 207 373 4339.
For a list of Irish Embassies, visit www.dfa.ie
Contact your local British Embassy or Consulate
Vaccines are neither compulsory nor necessary unless clients are travelling from an infected country. British visitors to the Republic of Ireland are covered under an agreement with the Department of Health, but some form of idendification or a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is necessary. British visitors to Northern Ireland require no documentation and will receive treatment as they would in Britain.
Visitors from all other EU countries travelling to Ireland should obtain an EHIC prior to departure.
For visitors from non-EU countries travelling to Ireland, private medical insurance is highly recommended.
Visitors with disabilities
Ireland extends a warm welcome to visitors with disabilities. Many public places and visitor attractions are accessible to wheelchair users, and an increasing number of hotels and restauarants are well equipped to accommodate guests with disabilities.
For further information please contact:
Republic of Ireland: National Disability Authority
Northern Ireland: Adapt NI and Disability Action
In the Republic of Ireland, the currency used is the euro (€) and in Northern Ireland the currency used is the pound sterling (£).
The standard electricity supply on the island of Ireland is 230 volts AC, the same as in the UK. Visitors from outside the UK may require a transformer and plug adaptor (to convert 2-pin plugs to the standard 3-pin plugs), which can be bought at airports or electrical suppliers.
VAT (Sales Tax) and tax refunds
Visitors may be able to claim some VAT back on purchases made in Ireland and a duty-free allowance on goods bought outside the EU. Visitors to Ireland from non-EU countries can claim back sales taxes on purchases made in Ireland; shopping in Ireland is subject to VAT (sales tax) of 23%. Always look for the "Tax-Free Shopping" sign in the windows of participating stores. To avail of your tax refund, you must complete a valid tax refund document, which you can get from participating stores. Present this document and goods to customs on departure from the EU, and you can receive your refund on the spot at some airports; otherwise, you can mail your tax refund document to the store and a refund will be issued.
Select shopkeepers will offer you the Horizon Tax-Free shopping card, a new paperless method of getting tax refunds brought to you by FEXCO Tax-Free Shopping. With each purchase, the card is swiped and tax-free eligible items are logged. At the end of your trip, hand in the card to the FEXCO Tax-Free Shopping desk at Dublin or Shannon Airport.
For more information on tax-free shopping, check out Premier Tax Free and Fexco.
Emergency telephone numbers
Republic of Ireland emergency services (Police, Fire, Ambulance, Coastal & Mountain Rescue), Tel: 112 or 999
Northern Ireland emergency services (Police, Fire, Ambulance, Coastal & Mountain Rescue), Tel: 999
The legal drinking age is 18 years. Some pubs will insist patrons are over 21 years and carry some form of identification. Legislation in the Republic of Ireland stipulates that children under 18 years are not allowed in premises that serve alcohol after 9.30pm.
Smoking is not allowed in public areas and workplaces including pubs, restaurants, hotels and taxis, in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.