Entry into Ireland

Entry into Ireland as South African immigrating to Ireland would need Immigration information for South Africans moving, immigrating, visiting or working in the Republic of Ireland

Entry into Ireland as South African immigrating to Ireland would need Immigration information for South Africans moving, immigrating, visiting or working in the Republic of Ireland

Please note during Covid-19, a 14 day quarantine applies when you arrive in Ireland. Please see this link for VITAL info:   Covid-19 updates

 


 

This section deals with you coming into Ireland whether that is to immigrate, to work or on holiday, and the paperwork you need specifically to enter Ireland

GO GET A NOTEPAD- You are going to need it...

Ireland and South Africa have a special agreement that allows South Africans to enter Ireland visa free. Whilst this is described as Visa-free, you do need certain proof to enter Ireland, and could be more correctly termed “visa at the border” or indeed a “stamp at the border.”

  • When entering Ireland through an airport the first desk you will encounter is Border Management Unit (BMU).

 

  • If you drive via Northern Ireland, the correct procedure to obtain this entry stamp is to report to a Garda Immigration point either near the border, or where you are staying. They should then review your paperwork in the same way as they do if you come through an airport. Like any country, should you be stopped, or should you need emergency care and you are discovered in the country without that entry stamp, you could face deportation.

 

  • If you come by ferry, they do sometimes check as you disembark, if they do not, then as above, you should report to a local Garda Immigration near the port or near where you are staying. Like any country, should you be stopped, or should you need emergency care and you are discovered in the country without that entry stamp, you could face deportation.

 

  • When you are flying from South Africa, the airlines are well used to the visa-free entry into Ireland and will want to check your paperwork before they allow you on the aircraft. The reason they do this, is should you be declined entry into Ireland, they must return you to South Africa. This check can happen mid-way through a lay-over too. As there are no direct flights from South Africa to Ireland, you need to get a flight via another country. For example, if you fly via Dubai, the check-in staff in Dubai may do the same checks that they did or did not do in South Africa. The airlines are fully within their rights to deny you boarding on their flights. Just like entry into Dublin, they can detain you, they can interrogate you and they can turn you around and send you home.

 

  • Should you decide to fly via the UK you will need a Full UK Visitor visa. Not a transit, a FULL VISITOR VISA for all South African passport holders.
  • Frequently asked questions on Northern Ireland/ UK

    Q.1 Will an Irish visa allow me to travel to Northern Ireland?

    No. If you wish to travel to Northern Ireland, you will require a UK visa.

    Northern Ireland consists of Counties Antrim, Armagh, Derry, Down, Fermanagh and Tyrone.

    If you are travelling to the Republic of Ireland, and you intend to also visit Northern Ireland and return to the Republic, you must obtain a multiple-entry Irish visa and a UK visa.

    If your main destination is Northern Ireland but you arrive in, and depart from the Republic of Ireland, you must first obtain a UK visa, and then a multi-entry Irish visa.

    FAQ inis

 

An important note: Any official stamping your landing permission has absolute discretion. They have the discretion to allow or dis-allow a person into Ireland.

They can stamp up to 90 days entry or they can stamp as few or many days under that 90 days as they see fit for purpose.

They can detain you. They can interrogate you. They have the right to read your phone, search your laptop, search your bags and read all correspondence.

They can turn you around and send you on your way home without allowing you entry.  

Or they will be happy with the paperwork and information you will have very carefully put together as a result of SA2Eire and SAMTI and you will have no issues getting that 90 day stamp.

  • Compiling your entry info correctly is VITAL so that you are not refused entry. This is where pre-clearance and entry visas during Covid gave many people such peace of mind. But with Entry visas being dropped, the stress is again high. Organisation is EVERYTHING, and making certain you have more info than may be required is better than not having enough.
  • If you wish to book a #MapMyMove we can help you prepare for this stressful time, drop us an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


 

How do I prove my intentions in Ireland?

On your journey to Ireland you need to carry paperwork with you for all points of call where it may be required.

  • You may fly easily, and all this proof gathering may not even be checked, or you may have been to Ireland 40 times, but on the 41st time they may want to do these checks. Should you get checked at the airport in South Africa (or transit airport) they may want to call through to Dublin BMU to check if you should be allowed on the plane. This could take a few minutes; it could take several hours. Stay calm, this is out of your control. The airline is taking due diligence before allowing you on the aircraft. Be at the airport early, give yourself good time at transit airports and have all your documentation ready. Pre-clearance cannot be done by you before you fly, it is done by the airline at the time you are due to fly.

 

  • At Entry into Ireland, be honest, be clear, be calm. Show all possible proof needed. They may not question you at all and it may be an easy process. They may ask a lot of questions. Remember BMU is in complete control, you do your best to show all possible proof you can.

 

So what do I need to get from SA to Ireland?

  1. Proof of Identity
  2. Proof of Accomodation
  3. Proof of Funds 
  4. Proof of Travel/Medical Insurance
  5. Proof Your route/reason for entry (Intentions)

 


 

 1. Proof of Identity

  • Your passport (your South African ID book is meaningless once you leave the shores of SA)
  • Make certain you have more than 6 months if you are coming on holiday/work/ visit
  • If you are coming to Ireland to live, we recommend more than 3 years on your passport South African Passport renewals

 

2. Proof of Accomodation

1. If this is to stay with someone in Ireland (friend or relative)

2. If this is to stay in a hotel or BNB

  • Have proof of invoice or booking at the accommodation with relevant contact information of the place/person

3. If this is during Covid times, your Mandatory Quarantine Hotel and bookings in a hotel or BNB thereafter

  • Have proof of invoice or booking at the accommodation with relevant contact information of the place/person

 

3. Proof of Funds 

  • You may be asked to prove your funds available. Have a copy of your bank statement/ credit card statement showing your available balance
  • If someone else is funding this trip (if a holiday), have proof of their bank/ credit card statement and include in the letter of invitation that they are paying for you whilst you are in Ireland

 

 4. Proof of Travel/Medical Insurance

  • Some airlines will not let you board without travel and/or medical insurance. This is because they want to make certain your medical and luggage are covered for the duration of your flying with them. You will also want to be covered in case you get sick in Ireland or on the trip to Ireland, and to cover cancelled flights.
  • BMU may want to know that in the event of a medical emergency you can pay or be covered. A few days in an Irish hospital when you are not a resident can go into the thousands of Euros.
  • More and more often it is being reported people needing medical care who have just arrived in Ireland, regardless of passport, need to pay full international fees for medical treatment. It may be recommended you look at continuing your South African medical aid or some kind of private medical cover either Irish or South African, for the time it may take you to prove Habitual Residence and Medical in Ireland

 

5. Proof your Intention: your route/reason for entry:

To come to Ireland for the residence longer than 90 days, usually for the purpose of immigration/ residency, for the purpose of work, business, study or retirement you will need to investigate YOUR route of potential immigration: HERE

You are NOT allowed to work, seek work and engage in business.

 ie: To fly to Ireland to live and/or work or seek work you need a work permit in your hand (applied for from SA) or you or your spouse has Irish/ EU or British passports.


 

a. If that's Holiday/Visiting family:

  • You need to show your intentions in Ireland in the form of holiday only. This needs to be expressed verbally but also backed up with proof. Who am I visiting and where am I going? What is your plan! If you are visiting people you will need the Letter of Invitation
  • You enter in the non-EU queue and you stay together if there are more than 1 of you travelling together
  • For now, there is no actual wording to say Holidays are or are not allowed. We recommend you speak to the Irish Embassy in Pretoria, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to confirm if holidays are allowed BEFORE booking your trip. Covid-19 updates
  • Read more on what is needed to visit Ireland: Visiting Ireland
  • Read more on what documents are required: Documents for Ireland

 

b. If that's attending a work interview/ conference/ other:

  • You need to show your intentions in Ireland in the form of what you are doing and that the trip is for this purpose only. This needs to be expressed verbally but also backed up with proof. Where and with whom is the interview that has been pre-arranged, where is the conference, where is the exam... prove it! You will also need a Letter of Invitation
  • You enter in the non-EU queue and you stay together if there are more than 1 of you travelling together
  • Read more on what documents are required: Documents for Ireland

 

c. If that’s a Work permit entry

  • You and your family (if you are travelling together) need to express that you are here on a Critical Skills work permit and show proof of that in the form of the Original Work Permit and passports.
  • If you are joining a spouse who is already in Ireland and has done their 12 months on their General Work permit, you need to show proof of that work permit and that they have been in Ireland 12 months. You will also need the Letter of Invitation
  • You enter in the non-EU queue and you stay together and get processed as a family
  • If you are bringing a De Facto partner (unmarried) all the proof needed to prove that entry AND the pre-clearance approval letter see: De Facto (unmarried) Partners and Proofs required
  • If you are bringing adult dependants make certain you have the proof required for them based on that (eg: adult children between 18-23 years proof of enrollment at Irish approved study, or dependant parents if allowed) see Family Reunification Document
  • Read more on what documents are required: Documents for Ireland

 

d. If that’s an EU Treaty entry

  • You do not need to explain at this point which route you are going (employed/ self-employed/ study/ self-sufficient).
  • You do need to express that the SA passport holders in your family are dependants of the EU passport and that you are going to be doing the EU treaty. This means that BMU (border control) records on their side the correct entry, and that the SA passports will be stamped correctly.
  • Usually they stamp up to 90 days entry, they write ‘EU treaty’ (or something along those lines) into the passport and they may or may not include your reference or GNIB number into the passport. Do not panic if they don’t do any of this, as long as you send off your paperwork once you’re in the country, as required before the 90 days is up, you will be covered.
  • The EU passport holder gets no stamps in their passport.
  • You enter in the non-EU queue and you stay together and get processed as a family
  • If you are bringing a De Facto partner (unmarried) all the proof needed to prove that entry see: De Facto (unmarried) Partners and Proofs required
  • If you are bringing adult dependants make certain you have the proof required for them based on that (eg: adult children between 21-23years proof of enrollment at Irish approved study, or dependant parents if allowed) see EU and South African Passports
  • Read more on what documents are required: Documents for Ireland

 

e. If one (or more) of you holds an Irish Passport and the rest are SA passport holders

  • Show the passports and the BMU officer will probably ask your intentions and explain how you know to go to Garda Immigration to get registered
  • You enter in the non-EU queue and you stay together and get processed as a family
  • If you are bringing a De Facto partner (unmarried) all the proof needed to prove that entry AND the pre-clearance approval letter see: De Facto (unmarried) Partners and Proofs required
  • If you are bringing adult dependants make certain you have the proof required for them based on that (eg: adult children between 18-23years proof of enrollment at Irish approved study, or dependant parents if allowed) see Family Reunification Document
  • Read more on what documents are required: Documents for Ireland

 

f. If that's a British with SA dependants entry

  • Each of the SA members each need a pre-clearance letter of approval. You will not be allowed entry into the country if the dependant(s) do not have this pre-clearance letter.
  • Read more on what documents are required: Documents for Ireland

 

g. If that’s where all members are Irish/British/EU and none of you are South African only passport holders

  • You simply show your passports and in you come. Your passports do not get stamped. You are EU or Common Travel Area (BP) holders and have the right to travel in and out of Ireland freely. It is only when 1 or more members hold only a South African passport that you need to communicate or express intentions of your journey through immigration and processes need to be done.
  • You enter the EU queue and stay together if you are travelling together
  • Read more on what documents are required: Documents for Ireland

 

h. If that's a South African coming on a Study Permit:

  • Letter of acceptance from a recognised school or college or university in Ireland confirming that you have been accepted on a course of study. Plus all the additional proofs for this entry type see Documents for Ireland

 

i. If that's a South African coming on a Retirement Stamp0:


 

j. If that's a South African coming as an Business/Investor permit holder:

  • Proof of the IIP or STEP visa Plus all the additional proofs for this entry type see Documents for Ireland


 

TIPS FOR THE FLYING PROCESS

Some people have never flown out of SA but even if you are a frequent flyer there is no harm reading again as often people get the various stages confused or name them incorrectly.

  • Arrive at the airport approx. 3-4 hours before departure of your plane. This gives time for what potentially could be a phone call between the airline and Border Management in Ireland. Sometimes, depending on who you get, will not make this call, but very often the airline will not let you on the plane unless they know you have a strong chance of being allowed in to Ireland. When you are flying from South Africa, the airlines are well used to the visa-free entry into Ireland and will want to check your paperwork before they allow you on the aircraft. The reason they do this, is should you be declined entry into Ireland, they are responsible to return you to South Africa.

 

  • This phone call check can happen mid-way through a lay-over too. As there are no direct flights from South Africa to Ireland, you need to get a flight via another country. For example, if you fly via Dubai, the check-in staff in Dubai may do the same checks that they did or did not do in South Africa. The airlines are fully within their rights to deny you boarding on their flights. Just like entry into Dublin, they can detain you, they can interrogate you and they can turn you around and send you home.

 

  • First you encounter Check-in at your airline. Here they will ask for your passports (show ALL passports including EU passports for all members and all your SA passports). Show your EU/Irish/British and SA because you need to make sure you all get on that flight for the correct reasons... moving to Ireland. If you are a work permit holder, show the work permit, if you're joining someone show that proof. Do NOT say you're going on holiday if you're not going on holiday... if you're movng to Ireland you're moving and you need to express that. If you're holiday'ing you say holiday. You will be given a card which is your boarding card with your seat number and most times the boarding gate number and time for boarding. If the card does not have these, don't panic, the TV screen all over the airport will display this info. You need to keep the card safe for boarding the plane.

 

  • They will ask your reasons for travel, check your passports, (at the moment check for Covid compliance) check your paperwork, they can if they choose to call through to Dublin or Cork for a pre-clearance before allowing you to go further, so you MAY sit and wait while they do their checks. We would HIGHLY recommend Dublin because quarantine in Cork has not been active and people have been driven by taxi to Dublin, so a long flight followed by a 3 hour taxi ride. And just between us, when they announced the hotels, the Cork designated hotel is the Travelodge … think Formula One in SA… cheap small and is on one the busiest roundabouts in Cork with a quarry and hill for the rear view. After quarantine you can catch a bus from Dublin to Cork for around EUR20 or a train for various prices depending on time of day and how far in advance you book. *Note on Covid travel

 

  • They will check your size and weight luggage and security protcols about packing the contents.

 

  • Then you go through security into the airport itself. here you remove your clothes and stand naked.... hehehe ... i was tempted to freak the new flyer out and just leave it there.... ok so you remove, belts, laptops, phones, sometimes watches, anything that will make their security scanners beep and squeak. Some people have been asked for covid negative tests here in the last month, some have not been asked at all. hence the query about "do I need a covid test"... its SA... who knows when there will or wont be someone asking again?

 

  • Then you go through passport control. This is where the SA Border official checks your passports. This is where all SA born people and anyone who is a SA citizen needs to show their SA passport.

 

  • Sit and wait in Duty-free or the lounges, go to your boarding gate.

 

  • At the boarding gate they check your boarding card, sometimes they ask for your passport again, throw out liquids, and check your carry on luggage etc is safe for the flight.

 

  • Get your seat and enjoy the flight. Make sure any money and passports are safely near you at all times. Theft has been known to happen in flight

 

  • Landing in the in-between country you disembark, you may or may not encounter security again, you may or may not have to check-in again, depends on the airline/country/terminal/ length of layover if you have a boarding card or not for the next flight... go with the flow and be prepared to be checked again as to your motives for flying and you can be asked for all the previous check-in info you did in SA.

 

  • You are unlikely to collect your luggage 99.99999% of the time it gets sent to Ireland directly (unless it is the UK where you cross over from international terminal to Domestic clearing through customs, sometimes they transfer your luggage sometimes they dont, just check).

 

  • Fly to Ireland
  • Land in Ireland

 

  • First you encounter Passport control. This is called BMU (Border Management Unit) in Ireland. This is where all your paperwork is checked and the legitimacy of your entry is approved or declined.
  • we want to hear reason for coming to Ireland, show paperwork, banter, smiles, STAMP STAMP STAMP... and your loud SIGH of relief as you told to walk on through.
  • we DO NOT want to hear... sit over there, wait here, go to that room... this is an ill-prepared flyer who has not got their documents in order, or is not able to enter at this point

 

  • If you follow the tips above: Proof of Identity, Proof of Intention, Proof of accomodation, Proof of medical... and then the Proof based on YOUR entry route/reason. You should be JUST FINE. They may not even ask for any of it... but BE PREPARED... if you aren't prepared and dont have this proofs with you, you could be the one that has the issues. Keep all this paperwork in your hand luggage as you will not have your suitcase with you at the stages where the paperwork is needed.

 

  • An important note: Any official stamping your landing permission has absolute discretion. They have the discretion to allow or dis-allow a person into Ireland. They can stamp up to 90 days holiday or they can stamp as few or many days under that 90 days as they see fit for purpose. They can detain you. They can interrogate you. They have the right to read your phone, search your laptop, search your bags and read all correspondence. They can turn you around and send you on your way home without allowing you entry.  Or they will be happy with the paperwork and information you will have very carefully put together as a result of SA2Eire and SAMTI and you will have no issues getting that 90 day stamp

 

 


 

Important links:

 

   #MapMyMove- Our coaching Service - confused or lost and need some direction? 

   Visitor to Ireland

   Letter of Invitation

   Flights from SA to Ireland, baggage allowances, One-way tickets

   EU Treaty: Relevant parts of EU Directive- document to print off and have with you in case you have issues

   What should I or can I bring with me to Ireland?

   Visa Exempt Countries (South Africa) and do's and don’ts on holiday

   Frequently asked questions about entry into Ireland and visas

   Permission to Enter Ireland

   Standard Visitor Visa if you fly via the UK    

   Border Management Unit (BMU)

   Home Affairs documents

   Home Affairs Agents and Contacts

   Documents to get before coming to Ireland

   Checklist of things to do before leaving South Africa

   Travel Insurance

   Free Travel Insurance through TIC for FNB customers

   Admin before the move

   Admin once you're in Ireland

Developed and sponsored by  The One Group

X

Right Click

No right click