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Can I travel abroad during COVID-19?

Travellers arriving into Ireland will need to quarantine for a period of 14 days


Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in news


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At the moment, the Government advises that all non-essential travel should be avoided. However, if you must travel, then there are certain restrictions in place for both leaving and entering the country.

The sort of guidelines you will need to follow depend on where you are travelling to or from.

Do I have to get tested for COVID-19 before travelling?

All passengers arriving into Ireland are required to present a 'negative' or 'not detected' Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test taken 72 hours before your arrival in Ireland. This test is mandatory, which means you must do it, and you will be asked to provide proof of your negative or 'not detected' result before boarding the plane or ferry. If you cannot provide evidence of your test, you will not be allowed to board. 

Any passengers who do arrive into Ireland without this negative or 'not detected' test result and who do not have a valid exemption from this rule will face prosecution, with a fine of up to €2,500 or up to 6 months in prison.

Passengers arriving into Ireland and immediately travelling onwards (i.e. on a connecting flight, and therefore not leaving the airport) are not required to present evidence of a negative or 'not detected' test for travel to Ireland - but you may need one for the country you are travelling onwards to.

If you are travelling from Ireland to another country, you must check the requirements for entry to that country before travelling, and make sure to get tested if it is required. 

Passenger locator form

If you do plan on travelling to Ireland you must fill in a COVID-19 Passenger Locator Form. It is against the law not to fill in this form. You can be fined up to €2,500 or face up to 6 months in prison, or both, if you do not fill in the passenger locator form.

Do I have to quarantine after travelling?

If you are arriving into Ireland from another country, you must enter a mandatory quarantine for 14 days. This mandatory quarantine is a legal requirement, which means you can be fined up to €2,500 or face up to 6 months in prison, or both, if you do not carry out the mandatory 14 day quarantine. You may only leave your quarantine in emergency situations, to leave the country, or to get tested for COVID-19. 

If you tested negative on your PCR test 72 hours before arriving in Ireland, you still have to restrict your movements. You must restrict your movements even if you feel well. 

Find out about exceptions to the mandatory quarantine rule.

Getting tested after arrival

However, if you take a PCR test five days or more after arriving in Ireland, and your test comes back negative, you no longer have to quarantine. You must wait for your negative test result to come back before ending your restricted movements. 

It is worth remembering that you will have to pay for this test yourself - it cannot be arranged through a GP. Find out the different prices for COVID-19 testing at Dublin Airport and how to book.

This does not currently apply to passengers arriving from category two countries, who are asked to complete the full 14 day quarantine period even if their tests come back negative. Tests for arrivals from category two countries can be arranged through a GP. Find out more below.

Travellers high risk 'category two' countries

The Government has provided a list of high risk countries, also known as 'category two' countries, which have additional restrictions for any travellers arriving from these countries. 

Any travellers arriving into Ireland from a high risk category country must quarantine at the address provided on your passenger location form for a period of 14 days after arriving in Ireland. This mandatory quarantine is a legal requirement, which means you can be fined up to €2,500 or face up to 6 months in prison, or both, if you do not carry out the mandatory 14 day quarantine. You may only leave your quarantine in emergency situations, to leave the country, or to get tested for COVID-19.

Getting tested after arriving from a category two country

All travellers coming from these regions are asked to phone any GP or GP out-of-hours service five days or more after arrival to arrange a COVID-19 test. If the test is arranged through a GP, it will be free of charge. You must continue quarantining even if the test comes back negative. 

The reason for this is to identify and control any new variants of COVID-19 that may be entering Ireland from these regions. If travellers from these areas begin to develop any symptoms of COVID-19, they should immediately contact a GP and let them know they have recently arrived from a category two country.

What countries are on the high risk category two list?

The following countries are considered high risk:

  • Angola
  • Austria
  • Botswana
  • Brazil
  • Burundi
  • Cape Verde
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Lesotho
  • Malawi
  • Eswatini
  • Mauritius
  • Mozambique
  • Namibia
  • Republic of South Africa
  • Rwanda
  • Seychelles
  • Tanzania
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe

Travelling to another country

If you are travelling from Ireland to another country, it is important that you inform yourself about any restrictions or requirements in the country you’re travelling to, such as if you must isolate yourself on arrival.

Find out what you need to do when arriving in another country by selecting the country you’re travelling to from this drop down list.

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Published Decem­ber 1st2020
Last updated March 4th2021
Can this be improved? Contact editor@spunout.ie if you have any suggestions for this article.
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