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British Irish Visa Scheme

The Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald, T.D., announced on 16th June, 2014 that the British Irish Visa Scheme between Ireland and the United Kingdom will commence this Autumn starting with China and India.

The British Irish Visa Scheme allow for travel to and around the Common Travel Area (CTA) on a single visa. As matters stand, many overseas tourists and business visitors who wish to visit both Ireland and the UK, including Northern Ireland, need separate Irish and UK visas.

From the Autumn the objective is that visitors from China and India will be able to travel freely within the Common Travel Area using either an Irish or UK visa. This will mean that tourists, business visitors etc. will be able, for the first time, to visit both Ireland and the UK, including Northern Ireland, on a single visa.

British Irish Visa Scheme in practice

The Scheme will operate through a reciprocal visa arrangement, whereby Ireland and the UK recognise short-stay visas issued by the other for travel to their jurisdiction. This will allow the holder of such a visa issued by the country of first arrival thereafter to travel freely between Ireland and the UK, including Northern Ireland, for the duration of that visa. The Scheme is confined to Chinese Nationals who are living in China and to Indian Nationals living in India.

For example, a visa required tourist who wishes to visit both Dublin and Belfast will be able to apply for an Irish short-stay visa which will allow them to travel directly to Dublin and then onwards to Northern Ireland without having to obtain a separate UK visa. Also if they are returning to Ireland following a visit to the UK, they will not require a re-entry visa.

The British Irish Visa Scheme will build on Ireland’s Short-stay Visa Waiver Programme, introduced in July, 2011, which has proved to be a significant success. That Programme allows nationals of 18 countries to travel from the UK to Ireland using their UK visa. The number of visitors from the countries in question grew by 68% from 2010 to 2013. The British Irish Visa Scheme will allow travel throughout the UK and Ireland, whereas the Irish Visa Waiver Programme allowed travel in one direction only.

With effect from Tuesday 28 October 2014, the British Irish Visa Scheme was introduced in China. Further information is available in the following links.