Q&A: What are the new rules in relation to travel abroad?

As some non-essential European travel resumes, here is what you need to know

New rules allowing certain non-essential overseas travel between Ireland and Europe came into effect on Monday. But what do you need to know before you book for such a trip?

Firstly, who can travel?

Those who are fully vaccinated, have recovered from Covid-19 in the last six months, or who present a negative Covid-19 test taken during a set period prior to departure can now travel more freely within the European Union, as well as to Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland.

The new travel regime means people will not have to quarantine when travelling to Ireland from the above countries, effectively opening the departure gates for holidays abroad.

Meanwhile, people coming here from other areas, including Britain, will have to quarantine at a home address on arrival here if they travel on the basis of a negative test, until they receive a second negative result five days after arrival.


Passengers arriving into Ireland will also have to fill out a passenger locator form before departure.

How do I prove I’m vaccinated?

In order to make travel easier, the EU has introduced a digital Covid certificate, which people can use as proof they are fully vaccinated, have recently recovered from infection, or have a recent negative test.

So far 1.1 million certificates have been emailed to people here, and 600,000 hard copies sent in the post. There is a helpline set up (1800-851504) to assist people who have recovered from Covid-19 in the last six months to get their certificates.

If I need a negative test, does it have to be PCR?

The State requires those travelling here who are not fully vaccinated or have not recently recovered from the virus to present a negative Covid-19 PCR test – seen as the gold standard – taken no more than 72 hours prior to arrival in the country.

Popular holiday destinations, such as Spain, France and Portugal, accept both PCR or antigen tests as proof of a negative Covid-19 result prior to arrival.

The prices of tests can vary, with Dublin Airport offering PCR tests for €95, with the results back in 24 hours, and cheaper rapid antigen tests for €49, with results back after one hour.

If you're travelling to England, Scotland or Wales from Ireland you do not need to quarantine or take a Covid-19 test for your journey.

Children under 12 travelling into the State with an adult will not need to present negative tests prior to arrival, but those between 12 and 17 years of age will, likely bumping up the price tag of a large family holiday.

It is important to find out what rules apply in the country you are travelling to, as well as the requirements upon return to Ireland.

So the best piece of advice is to double check on the Department of Foreign Affairs website exactly what measures are in place for inbound passengers in the country you are flying to.

So goodbye mandatory hotel quarantine?

The mandatory hotel quarantine system is still in place, although only for people coming from a much smaller number of countries, mainly in South America, Africa, and Asia.

Russia is the only country in Europe still covered by mandatory hotel quarantine requirements, after Turkey was removed late last week.

What is the so-called emergency brake system?

There is an “emergency brake” measure as part of this new EU travel system, which will kick in if a new variant of significant concern is identified in a country. If that happens Government advice will be to avoid travelling to that destination.

If you are travelling back to Ireland from a country subject to such an emergency brake, and are fully vaccinated or recently recovered from Covid-19, you will also need a negative PCR test taken up to 72 hours before arrival here.

You will then have to self-quarantine at home, until you receive a second negative test five days after arrival.

If you are not vaccinated or recovered from Covid-19 and coming from an emergency brake country, you will need to enter 14-day mandatory hotel quarantine.

You will be able to leave hotel quarantine if you test negative 10 days after arrival.

Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is a reporter with The Irish Times