How to Travel to Ireland in 2021 – What You Need to Know

Do you want to travel to Ireland in 2021? Guess what? You can!!!

I have been waiting to write that for ages upon ages.

Last week, the Irish government announced its updated plans for opening up international travel. There is a bit of nuance in the policy so I thought a brief and understandable summary was in order.

Beach and Ruins in Ireland

Here’s what we know:

  • Starting July 19, all vaccinated travelers from the US and Canada can travel to Ireland without a negative Covid-19 test and will not have to quarantine–just land and explore!!
  • If you are not vaccinated, you will have to show proof of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours before arrival and self-quarantine. This is a 14-day quarantine with the possibility to shorten it to five days if you have a negative PCR test at that time.
  • Before you land in Ireland, you will be required to complete a passenger locator form that enables contact tracing. On this form, you must list the locations you will be staying for the duration of your trip.

The Fine Print of Traveling to Ireland in 2021

Before you open a new tab to check the cost of flights this fall, there are a few things you should know about taking a trip to Ireland this year.

Ireland could place an “emergency brake”  on travel from the US or Canada (or any other country) if the health situation changes in Ireland or your home country. This would change the entry rules and require all vaccinated travelers to self-quarantine for a minimum of five days and unvaccinated travelers to complete a mandatory hotel quarantine.

The last time a mandatory hotel quarantine was placed on those traveling from the US, Ireland gave a few days leeway between when they announced the policy change and when the rule was activated to allow travelers to adjust their plans.

Also, the US government still requires a negative covid test taken within three days before returning to the states to gain re-entry. This may change soon, so keep an eye on the CDC’s international travel page for updates.

What will travel to Ireland in 2021 look like?

  • If you aren’t vaccinated and don’t have a full 14 days to quarantine (like groceries delivered, going nowhere quarantine), then travel to Ireland in 2021 is unlikely for you. I don’t think there is a better vaccination campaign than that!
  • The EU created a Digital Covid certificate (DCC) which attests that the holder has been vaccinated against covid-19, has tested negative, or has recovered from the virus within the past nine months. At the moment, the US does not participate in the DCC (or any other universal system), but your vaccination card holds proof enough for entry into Ireland.
  • Anticipate some lines especially at the airport. Because there isn’t a universal system to check vaccination/covid testing documents there are likely to be lines.
  • Because of the capacity limitations that Ireland has placed on indoor events, experiences, and restaurants, it will be crucial to reserve as much as you can in advance. Some places and experiences will book up quicker than usual. And even those places that don’t require a reservation (like a pub), will likely have some capacity restrictions.
  • Masks and social distancing will be required. Even though you may be vaccinated, when you are inside a building or visiting sites, you will be required to mask up and stay 2 meters from others.
  • Car rentals are expensive right now. Many car rental companies sold much of their fleet during the height of the pandemic to stay solvent, and it is going to take some time for companies to build their fleet. Low inventory means expensive rentals. If you’re strapped for cash, consider public transportation or renting for just the days you want to explore the countryside.
  • The passenger locator form requires you to share where you will be staying throughout your visit. So don’t expect to fly by the seat of your pants like you might have pre-pandemic.
  • More fellow travelers will be Irish. Ireland gets a lot of international visitors, but I don’t expect a run on Ireland this fall (I suspect that’ll come next year). However, I think you’ll find lots of Irish staycationing and enjoying all that their country has to offer-especially all the attractions the OPW manages which are free for the rest of 2021 (really!).

Country Road Dingle Ireland

I do not doubt that traveling to Ireland in 2021 will present new challenges, but I anticipate that we’ll experience even more delights than ever. So be patient. Follow the rules. And practice kindness with others and yourself as best you can.

I cannot wait for you to experience the one hundred thousand welcomes of Ireland, but you need to get planning now (like this weekend my friend!).

I have opened up more space on my calendar for travel coaching consults and Custom Ireland Itineraries.

If you’re not ready to plan quite yet, be sure to get on my email list to get the latest updates about Ireland travel.

We can do this, my friend! Ireland is worth the wait. I promise. ☘️❤️😊

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  1. Stephanie
    Oh my gosh, goosebumps and as excited as you. Some time ago, you mentioned a woman who was taking a small group of travelers to places not the usual tourist spots. If you hear from her again or if you are in touch, please share the information. I live near you in NW PA. So glad you are back here. Enjoy the delights of the seasons.

    1. Hi Donna! There are a few women that offer group tours that are sure to give you a great experience! I think I might have mentioned Jody from Ireland Family Vacations to you:
      or Susan from Ireland’s Hidden Gems: They both have tours running this fall and next year. Soooo much to look forward too!! 🥰

      Love, love, love being back in NW PA!! You’d think I would have ordered the great weather for my return. 😁 Been so wonderful lately!

  2. Hey thanks for the write up. Have you heard of anything regarding unvaccinated children visiting Ireland with vaccinated parents being able to bypass quarantine? She’s ten and can’t get vaccinated yet. Thank you!

  3. Hi Stephanie,
    We are planning travel from the US, (fully vaccinated) late July 2021. Any update on the quarantine requirement being lifted for travelers after July 19? Many hotels state that only the qualified EU travelers will be exempt from quarantine.
    Just wondering what info from there you are seeing,
    Thank you!

    1. Hi Julie!
      Ohh your trip is so soon! You must be so excited. You should be able to travel and stay at hotels in Ireland come July 19 as long as you are vaccinated and Ireland has not placed an “emergency break” on arrivals from the US. There are more details on this page, but specifically scroll to the bottom and see scenerio 1 that explains it more fully.

      I would encourage you to reach out to hotels directly (call if necessary) to get clarification on their individual policies, but most I have found to be ready and very excited to finally welcome international guests. Do let me know how you get on! :-)

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