Temporary Suspension of Irish Short Stay Visa Waiver Programme as part of COVID-19 Measures to Restrict Travel and Protect Public Health

10 July 2020

The Minister for Justice and Equality, Helen McEntee TD, has today announced the temporary suspension of the Irish Short Stay Visa Waiver Programme (SSVWP) as part of COVID-19 measures to restrict travel and protect public health.

The Programme had allowed people visiting the United Kingdom on short stay visas to travel to Ireland. Under the agreement, the visa holders had to leave Ireland before their permission to stay in the UK ended.

The suspension of the Programme is being implemented because of a divergence in approach between Ireland and the UK in travel measures to combat the pandemic.

The Programme applies to nationals of 17 countries:

Bahrain, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, India, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Montenegro, Oman, People's Republic of China, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, Uzbekistan.

Nationals of the affected countries will no longer be in a position to use their UK short stay visa for a visit to Ireland, but may apply separately for an Irish visa, which under current circumstances would only be accepted if it was a critical case.

It must be emphasised that this is a temporary measure, which does not affect the Common Travel Area rights of British and Irish citizens or the operation of the CTA.

The UK authorities have been notified of our intentions and do not have any concerns. The Programme is not a reciprocal arrangement. The Programme was scheduled to run to end 31 October 2021 having been extended on a number of occasions since its introduction in July, 2011.

The Government has committed to publishing a Green List of countries on 20 July 2020. This will give clarity in respect of countries which are in a similar position to Ireland in terms of the disease. People entering Ireland from Green List countries will not need to restrict their movements on arrival and the suspension may be reviewed at that time.

ENDS