So, you want to come to Ireland to visit family,
or your spouse on a work permit,
or a holiday,
or come for a job interview,
or a conference?
This will guide you as to what you need to do that:
Ireland and South Africa have a special agreement that allows South African passport holders 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.”
You have certain restrictions as to what you can do on this entry stamp
that is no working and no seeking work.
You are only granted entry on the basis of
what you are intending and can prove you are intending.
- When entering Ireland through an airport the first security you will encounter if Border Management Unit (BMU). These are the officials who decide yes you can or no you cannot enter Ireland, and for how long in or under that 90 days. It's UP TO 90 days maximum, it doesn't mean you will get 90 days. It's in their hands to decide, and it's based on the proof you have of what you are doing in Ireland.
- If you come to Ireland by driving 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, and the airline gets fined! For every refused entry, the airline gets fined. 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.
- Should you decide to fly via the UK you will need a Full UK Visitor visa, for all South African passport holders. You do not transit, you pass through passport control and enter the UK. The flights from SA international means you change terminals and leave via another terminal and you walk through a long tunnel which is actually IN the UK, so you would be technically able to go visit London if you chose to. (See Flights from South Africa to Ireland - Airlines and routes from South Africa to Ireland, Baggage and allowances, one way flights and the flying process- what paperwork to present when and what happens at each stage ). Our recommendation is to fly any other country or airline to avoid the need for a visa- as long as you do not leave the airport of that 3rd country, you will not need a visa.
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 visit 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 bags and read all correspondence.
They can turn you around and send you on your way home without allowing you entry.
So what do I need to prove for my trip?
Along with the Letter of Invitation you may want to have proof of the following:
Proof of Identity
Proof of Intention in Ireland
Proof of accommodation in Ireland
Proof of Funds
Proof of Travel Insurance
Proof of Return (more than just a return ticket)
* Letter of invitation is required for all entries except for a holiday
where you are booking into a hotel or accomodation,
where you are not visiting friends or family, but have come to explore Ireland.
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.
If you were applying for a pre-approved visa for say, a holiday in Australia, you need to provide evidence of: proof of identity, proof of address, proof of accommodation in the state, proof of funds, proof of travel insurance, proof of activity in the state and proof of return. Once all of this is proven to their satisfaction, they will issue you your visa to enter Australia.
In Ireland it is much the same proof required, it’s just not a pre-approved visa you are applying for.
You need to carry this 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 do what is known as a Pre-clearance call to BMU (Border management unit). 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.
What you need to prove entry is legitimate
You need to prove your Entry is legitimate, because it does need to be a legitimate entry. It is not permissible to seek or conduct employment searches or anything to do with work permits from within Ireland. All that can only be done from within South Africa.
- 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. What can you provide to prove you are coming to visit family or have a legitimate holiday in Ireland?
If for a job interview/ business conference/ training session/ business meetings:
- There is allowance for you coming to Ireland to attend a job interview:
- This Authorisation is applicable only to persons who have been invited to enter the State for the purpose of attending an interview.
- For the purpose of this initiative dependants are not permitted to accompany the interviewee.
Documentation that must be available for inspection by an Immigration Officer at the port of entry includes:
- Passport (must be valid for at least 6 months after date of arrival in the State).
- The invitation to attend interview must be included as a supporting document when applying for a visa.
- Original letter/notification of invitation to attend interview from the prospective employer based in the State. This letter should provide a detailed job description and contact details (name, phone number) of the prospective employer for verification purposes.
- Evidence of sufficient funding for the duration of the stay.
- Medical insurance
The same would apply if you were here to attend a one-off event, such as a conference, a business meeting, an examination, a meeting with a college or university, etc
This needs to be covered by proof of that event and not that you are working or earning money in the state. The entry stamp strictly prohibits work of any kind it states on the stamp “Employment /Business prohibited” Should you want to discuss this with them, then you need to contact Inis and/or BMU themselves before leaving SA.
The most important thing to prove, is your RETURN TO SOUTH AFRICA
What can you provide to make sure they know you are going back to SA?
A rental or your home?
Your kids schooling?
Your medical treatments?
What is it you can show other than a return flight, that you are definitely going back to SA
A flight can easily be cancelled so they don't accept it as proof alone,
but you do need a return ticket
Proof of funds:
As a rough guide work on EUR100 per day per adult, outside of accomodation as a ball park figure to work with.
BMU have never expressed an actual amount before, but a family who was declined entry recently was told this is this kind of money they looking at.
For a holiday, with food and transport to pay for it is probably reaslistic. But this is not expressed anywhere on the gov sites, its a guide.
If family or friends are paying for, and hosting you- then on the letter of invitation this must be stated, and proof of their funds must be provided.
How do I show my obligations to return home? (Irishimmigration.ie)
You will be asked some basic questions by the Immigration Officer in relation to your stay. You must be able to present to the Immigration Officer any documents necessary to explain the purpose of your visit. It is your responsibility to ensure you have everything with you. At a minimum, this includes:
- Your passport
- Boarding card.
- A travel itinerary
- Proof of sufficient funds
- Proof of travel insurance that covers the duration of your intended stay
- Details of your accommodation
- Invitations or letters that help to explain the purpose of your visit.
It is your responsibility to satisfy a visa officer that you have strong ties to your country of residence.
If you have a job in South Africa, you must provide your:
- 3 most recent original payslips
- A letter from your employer to show:
- How long you have been employed
- Your leave dates
- The date you are expected to return
- Your annual salary.
Education or study in South Africa
If you are studying, you must provide a letter from your school or college that shows:
- The course you are studying
- The amount of time you have been a student
- How many years you have remaining in your school or college
- The dates of your visit to Ireland including your return date to study.
You must provide evidence of family ties to your home country if you want your family ties to be considered.
You must declare your family status - you could be asked for:
- Original birth certificates for your family (children)
- Your marriage certificate if you are married
- Evidence that your family is in your home country.
You can provide evidence of any obligations you wish to have considered.
For example, if you own property, or rent a property, you can provide evidence of this.
Examples of evidence would include:
- An original title deed
- An up to date original rental agreement which shows the start date of your tenancy.
All additional documents should be clearly labelled in the application
Please see Letter of Invitation below
If you and I met and you said to me you live in SA and I said I don't believe you...
how would you prove that to me?
What other than a passport would you be able to show me that
you live where you live and do what you do in SA?
If I am on a General Work permit,
can my family come and visit and how often during that 12 months?
We simply cannot give a definitive answer. This is completely in the hands of BMU (Border Management unit)
What we do know is that 180 days of holiday in a year will not be allowed as that is residency numbers, it is more likely you will get a 30 day holiday once maybe twice in that year than 2 x 90days
We do know that it is UP TO 90 days, not necessarily the full 90 days you will be approved for.
A 90 days visit is fully at the discretion of the BMU Officer and they can give you just 2 weeks if they feel that is sufficient
Boarding by the airline and Entry in to Ireland is based on holidays, on proof of return, this is more extensive paperwork than just a return ticket, make sure you read all the info above throroughly and proof of work in SA and/or schools for the kids to return to will be in your interest
Whilst South African passport holders can visit UP TO 90 days the word visa does apply as the stamp you get at the border is the same given to people from visa required countries, it confirms what you can and cannot do in Ireland
Our coaching Services - Confused or lost and need some direction, book a session with us to help untangle the confusion and work out your route of immigration
Letter of Invitation - As South African, what documents do I need to enter Ireland on holiday, business trip, conference or job interview?
Home Affairs documents - A list of contacts and agents who deal with Home Affairs documents