knowledge | 26 August 2020 |

COVID-19: Updated Regulations Affect Most International Arrivals

Regulations, effective from 28 May to 9 November 2020 (an extended end-date which may be further extended), require most adults arriving in the State, other than from Northern Ireland, to provide contact details and a specific address at which they will reside for 14 days (or for the entire duration of their stay, if shorter than 14 days).  The requirement applies equally to Irish and non-Irish people.

The core obligation

From Thursday 28 May 2020 to Monday 9 November 2020, the Health Act 1947 (Section 31A – Temporary Requirements) (Covid-19 Passenger Locator Form) Regulations 2020 (“SI 181”) (as amended1) oblige most people aged 16 years or more arriving in the State other than from Northern Ireland (“international passengers”), to complete a “passenger locator form”, in paper form or by an online process, the detail of which SI 181 prescribes. 

This requires most such international passengers to declare a specific address in the State at which the international passenger will reside for a 14-day period and to provide his or her contact information during that time.

Unless exempt (see below), an international passenger must either (a) complete the online passenger locator form prior to arriving in the State and then provide a receipt (a “PLF receipt”) that is generated by the online passenger locator website, to a nominated State official in the relevant airport or seaport, or (b) provide a properly completed paper version of the passenger locator form to the relevant State official in the particular airport or seaport.  The online option is available here.

If an international passenger’s stay in the State will be for less than 14 days, her or his residence at the specified temporary “place of residence” is to be for the entire duration of the person’s stay in the State.

An international passenger may change his or her “place of residence” during the 14-day period but, if that happens, the person must notify that change to a nominated State official.

Nominated State officials (such as Immigration Service personnel and Health Service Executive “contact-tracers”) may require any international passenger to provide more information about the person’s contact details and proposed “place of residence” for the 14-day period.

The current end-date of 9 November 2020 has already been extended a number of times1 and may be further amended by a further statutory instrument.

Public health information

State officials may contact an international passenger during the prescribed 14-day period after her or his arrival (or at any stage during the international passenger’s stay in the State, if that is for less than 14 days) in order to provide the international passenger with relevant public health information.

Relevant ports and airports

The requirements that SI 181 imposes apply to international passengers arriving in the State’s principal airports (such as Dublin, Cork and Shannon2) and seaports (such as Dublin, Cork and Rosslare3).


SI 181 doesn’t draw any distinction based on nationality and so, subject to the exemptions mentioned below, this obligation applies equally to Irish citizens and to others.

The adult accompanying a child aged less than 16 years who arrives in the State must include the relevant information for that child / those children in the adult’s passenger locator form.


Reflected above, certain categories of people are exempt from this obligation to complete the passenger locator form process.  The principal exempt categories are:

  • people who arrive in the State from Northern Ireland;
  • ‘transit’ passengers (ie those who arrive for the purposes of passing through the relevant port or airport in order to travel to another state, and who don’t leave the port or airport);
  • drivers of heavy goods vehicles;
  • ship and aircraft crews who arrive in the State in the course of performing their duties;
  • foreign diplomats; and
  • persons aged less than 16 years (the accompanying adult must provide the relevant child’s information).

Data protection

Personal data that the State receives through passenger locator forms and follow-up enquiries that State officials might make of any international passenger under SI 181 must be permanently deleted within 28 days.

However, personal data collected under SI 181 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.


Under the Health Act 1947 (as amended), under which SI 181 is made, it is an offence for an international passenger (unless an exemption applies) to fail to:

  • provide a completed passenger locator form or a PLF receipt to the nominated State official in the relevant port or airport or to provide false or misleading information in such a form;
  • update the information in a passenger locator form promptly if, within the 14 days following the international passenger arriving in the State, that information changes in any material way; and
  • provide relevant additional information to a nominated State official, if the official seeks that information on the basis of a reasonable suspicion that the information provided in the relevant passenger locator form is incomplete, inaccurate or misleading, or if the official seeks verification of any information in the relevant form.  Such checks may be made during an international passenger’s stay in the State and not merely (for example) upon arrival in the particular port or airport.

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  1. Health Act 1947 (Section 31A – Temporary Requirements) (Covid-19 Passenger Locator Form) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 (SI 217 of 2020); Health Act 1947 (Section 31A – Temporary Requirements) (Covid-19 Passenger Locator Form) (Amendment) (No 2) Regulations 2020 (SI 243 of 2020); Health Act 1947 (Section 31A – Temporary Requirements) (Covid-19 Passenger Locator Form) (Amendment) (No 3) Regulations 2020 (SI 251 of 2020); Health Act 1947 (Section 31A – Temporary Requirements) (Covid-19 Passenger Locator Form) (Amendment) (No 4) Regulations 2020 (SI 294 of 2020); Health Act 1947 (Section 31A – Temporary Requirements) (Covid-19 Passenger Locator Form) (Amendment) (No 5) Regulations 2020 (SI 304 of 2020); and Health Act 1947 (Section 31A – Temporary Requirements) (Covid-19 Passenger Locator Form) (Amendment) (No 6) Regulations 2020 (SI 314 of 2020).
  2. Also including Donegal, Ireland-West (“Knock”), Kerry and Waterford Airports.
  3. Also including Cobh, Killybegs, Galway and Waterford ports.

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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