Taoiseach’s office contradicts Department of Health on PCR rules for children’s travel

Government clarifies rules around ages of children who need tests upon returning from abroad

The Department of the Taoiseach has contradicted the Department of Health on the travel rules for children who accompany their parents on family holidays abroad when restrictions are lifted later this month, as confusion around the opening up of international travel continues to dog the Government.

In response to repeated queries last week on the travel rules facing families from July 19th, the Department of Health told The Irish Times on Friday that “children aged 11 and under… do not need to take a PCR test” and can fly with their parents who are “immune or vaccinated”. The department said only “children between the ages of 12 and 17 must have a negative PCR test”.

This statement appeared to directly contradict information on the age groups that require tests, which was first supplied to the public by the Department of the Taoiseach on June 29th. At that time, it said “children aged between 7 and 18” must also have a negative PCR test, which is a far stricter age requirement than the one suggested by the Department of Health, which would impact thousands of families planning foreign holidays in coming months.

This discrepancy on ages was pointed out to officials within the Department of Health on Friday. The department did not formally respond to queries for further clarity on aspects of the travel rules, but officials suggested the Department of the Taoiseach is now handling the matter.


The Department of the Taoiseach today responded to a request for clarification by effectively over-ruling the statement that was issued by the Department of Health last Friday. The Taoiseach’s department has confirmed that the age requirement for children for negative PCR tests to travel is still “children aged between 7 and 18…. under current rules”, which is the same as the position it had previously advised , but contrary to the statement from the Department Health last Friday.

The Taoiseach’s department also confirmed that adults can travel on the European Union’s Covid certificate for foreign travel if they are immune through recovery, vaccinated or have a negative PCR test, and not just “immune or vaccinated” as had been previously suggested by the Department of Health.

“Children can travel [back in]to Ireland if their parents are travelling on a negative test, as long as they have their own negative test,” said the Department of the Taoiseach.

Children travelling with parents who are on the EU’s Covid certificate, which the Government insists it is due to launch on July 19th, will not have to complete quarantine upon entry into Ireland.

Mark Paul

Mark Paul

Mark Paul is London Correspondent for The Irish Times