knowledge | 2 February 2021 |

COVID-19: Additional Obligations Introduced for Most International Arrivals

Regulations, in force from 16 January to 5 March 2021 (an extended end-date which may be further extended), require most adults arriving in the State, other than from Northern Ireland, to present evidence of a negative COVID-19 test result, from a test taken within three days of that arrival.  The requirement applies equally to Irish and non-Irish people.  

The Regulations also impose obligations on those who organise or facilitate the arrival of adults from outside of Ireland by providing them with access to, or use of, a vehicle (such as car-hire operators).

The core obligations

Statutory instrument 11 of 2021(“SI 11 of 2021”) (as amended2) applies from Saturday 16 January to Friday 5 March 2021.  It obliges most people arriving into the State other than from Northern Ireland (“relevant travellers”) to provide, to an immigration officer, a negative COVID-19 test result from a test taken within three days of their arrival (a “relevant test result”).  This requirement applies equally to Irish and non-Irish people, unless they are exempt (see below).

SI 11 of 2021 also requires individuals or companies who organise or facilitate the arrival of a relevant traveller by providing them with access to or use of a vehicle (“travel organisers”) to take reasonable steps to inform the traveller of the requirement to have a relevant test result, upon arrival in Ireland.  They must also check whether or not the person has a relevant test result and, where a travel organiser is not satisfied that the person has done so, travel organisers must refuse to organise or facilitate the person’s travel, unless the person states that he or she is an exempted traveller (see below).

The current end-date of 5 March 2021 has already been extendedand may be further amended by a further statutory instrument.

Scope

SI 11 of 2021 does not draw any distinction based on nationality and so, subject to the exemptions mentioned below, this obligation applies equally to Irish citizens and to others.

Any adult accompanying a child aged less than 18 years who arrives in the State must ensure that the child is complying with the requirement to have a relevant test result.

Exemptions

Reflected above, certain categories of people are exempt from this requirement to provide a relevant test result.  The exempt categories include:

  • ‘transit’ passengers (ie those who arrive for the purposes of passing through a port or airport in order to travel to another state, and who don’t leave the port or airport);
  • drivers of heavy goods vehicles who arrive in the State in the course of performing their duties;
  • ship and aircraft crews who arrive in the State in the course of performing their duties;
  • a person who travels to the State due to a mandatory legal obligation;
  • members of an Garda Síochána and officers of the Minister for Justice who arrive in the State in the course of performing their duties; and
  • persons aged less than 7 years.

Data protection

Personal data, including data concerning health, that is provided to an immigration officer must be permanently deleted once they are no longer required to record and verify information relating to whether an individual possesses a relevant test result or whether he or she is an exempted or relevant traveller.  Where an immigration officer is satisfied with a relevant test result that is presented, no personal data will be processed concerning the result.

Personal data collected under SI 11 of 2021 may be retained for so long as is necessary if the data are required for the purposes of the prevention, investigation, detection or prosecution of a criminal offence.

Offences

Under the Health Act 1947 (as amended), under which SI 11 of 2021 is made, it is an offence for a relevant traveller, aged 18 years or more, (unless an exemption applies) to:

  • travel to the State, other than from Northern Ireland, without having a negative COVID-19 test result within three days of their arrival into the State;
  • fail to ensure that a relevant traveller in respect of whom he or she is a responsible adult has had a relevant test result;
  • fail to present themselves to an immigration officer and provide a relevant test result; and
  • fail to provide relevant additional information to an immigration officer, if the information is sought to confirm whether the person has a relevant test result and whether the person is a relevant traveller or an exempted traveller.

Further information

For information on other requirements concerning travel into the State, other than from Northern Ireland, see our previous update here.

Also contributed to by Ailbhe Marsh


  1. Health Act 1947 (Section 31A – Temporary Restrictions) (Covid-19) (Restrictions upon Travel to the State from Certain States) (No 2) Regulations 2021.
  2. Health Act 1947 (Section 31A - Temporary Restrictions) (Covid-19) (Restrictions upon Travel to the State from Certain States) (No 2) (Amendment) Regulations 2021 (SI 31 of 2021).

This briefing is for general guidance only and should not be regarded as a substitute for professional advice. Such advice should always be taken before acting on any of the matters discussed.

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