Unlocking the World

Travel to Ireland during Covid-19: What you need to know before you go

CNN StaffUpdated 13th October 2021
Cliffs of Moher (Clare): Perhaps Ireland's most famous attraction, the 214-meter-tall Cliffs of Moher attract around a million visitors each year. It's on the southwest edge of the Burren region.
(CNN) — If you're planning to travel to Ireland, here's what you'll need to know and expect if you want to visit during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The basics

Ireland has done better than its closest neighbors in terms of case numbers and deaths, which are among the lowest in Europe -- but that's thanks to one of Europe's harshest lockdowns throughout the pandemic.
Alongside its EU counterparts, it has now reopened to visitors. Arrivals are allowed from any country, though some must quarantine on arrival.
However, it's not all good news -- on August 3, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advised US citizens against all travel to Ireland, following a rise in infection rates.
Note that Northern Ireland is part of the UK and operates under separate Covid restrictions, which you can read about in our UK guide.

What's on offer

The wild coasts of Cork and Kerry, the rugged beauty of Connemara and Donegal and the cultural hub of Dublin. Ireland has long held travelers' imaginations captive, with tales of its history, its great literature and Celtic myths an endless source of fascination.
Sure, you can enjoy a few pints in one of its classic pubs, but with so much to explore, Ireland is as much a place to indulge in the great outdoors as it is to enjoy the craic.

Who can go

Since July 19, EU residents have been able to enter Ireland, using the EU Digital Covid Certificate scheme. Vaccinated or recovered travelers from all other countries can enter quarantine-free. See below for restrictions.
Irish citizens who have received their Covid vaccinations outside of Ireland will soon be able to apply for an EU Digital Covid Certificate through an Irish government portal which launched September 30. The service is initially open only to Irish citizens in Northern Ireland but on October 21 the opportunity will be extended to all Irish citizens vaccinated outside the EU.

What are the restrictions?

Ireland ended mandatory hotel quarantine for arrivals from high-risk countries on September 25, making the entry rules substantially more straightforward.
All arrivals to Ireland must complete a Passenger Locator Form before travel.
They must also produce either proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of arrival, written in English or Irish. Vaccinations must be those approved by the European Medicines Agency, and the cycle must have been completed seven days earlier for Pfizer, 14 days earlier for Moderna or Johnson & Johnson, or 15 days earlier for AstraZeneca.
An EU Digital Covid Certificate is also acceptable proof -- although if the certificate shows an antigen test, the traveler will be required to provide an additional PCR test.
A proof of recovery certificate, in English or Irish, is also acceptable. It must be within 180 days of the patient's first positive test.
These rules also apply to children over the age of 12, who must show proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative PCR test. Children do not have to quarantine on arrival, if accompanying vaccinated or recovered adults.
If you're arriving from a non-EU country (including the UK) but you do not have proof of vaccination, testing or recovery, you must quarantine at home for 14 days -- although can leave after five with a negative PCR test.

What's the Covid situation?

Although the situation in Ireland has vastly improved since the start of 2021, when a massive wave led to another stringent lockdown, cases recently crept up again. As of October 13, there have been 405,970 cases and 5,280 deaths. More than 75% of the population has been fully vaccinated, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

What can visitors expect?

Ireland spent much of the pandemic in deep hibernation, its pubs and restaurants shut, and tourist hotspots empty. Now though, reopening is finally underway. Pubs were closed completely from December 2020 until June 2021, but but now offer outdoor and indoor dining -- although for indoors, you must present proof that you have been fully vaccinated or recovered from Covid-19 in the last six months (along with ID). Outdoor events capped at 200 can now take place.

Useful links

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Working out your itinerary? Check out these 32 beautiful reasons to visit. When you get there, make sure you head straight to the pub to support an industry that has been devastated by the pandemic.
Dublin, meanwhile, remains one of Europe's best destinations for a city break. And while a sea bridge to Scotland has recently been rejected, you can always test your head for heights on the footbridge at Mizen Head, the most southwesterly point on the island of Ireland.