Ireland (09 February 2021) COVID-19 - Travel Exemptions and Updates to Employment Permit Processing

Impact - High

What is the change?

The Irish government has recently published a Statutory Instrument that now grants an exemption from 14-day self-isolation requirements to certain categories of international travellers and indicates there are now obligations on travel advisors to advise their clients of their obligations under these new regulations.

New measures have also been introduced by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment that will apply to visa required nationals whose employment permits are currently processing.

Key points:

  • Implementation time frame: The Statutory Instrument and employment permits updates have been in effect since 03 February 2021.
  • Who is affected: All inbound travellers to Ireland.

Statutory Instrument - Country categories, relevant exemptions, obligations on travel advisors and penal provisions outlined:


The countries from which the traveller is arriving to Ireland from, are split into two categories by definition:

  • “Category 1 state” means a relevant state that is not a Category 2 state;
  • “Category 2 state” means a relevant state specified below:    
  1. Brazil
  2. Republic of South Africa.

14 Day Exemption Eligibility:

The requirement to avail of the exemption is that the traveller must be in Ireland to carry out essential repair, maintenance, construction or safety assurance of:

  • Critical transport infrastructure;
  • Critical utility infrastructure;
  • Manufacturing services:
  • Information services, or
  • Communications services.

This exemption, only applies to those who have travelled to Ireland from a Category 1 state.

Obligations on travel organisers

The statutory instrument explains that any company or facilitator of travel into the State must take appropriate action to notify travellers of the requirements placed on them. The obligation is on the organiser to refuse to organise, effect or facilitate the travel of the person to the State where they have not satisfactorily completed the requirements.

Dept, of Enterprise, Trade and Employment - Clarification on visa required conditions for employment permit applications.

Employment Permit applications from a visa required country.

The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment is continuing to process applications for employment permits. However, given the new temporary visa arrangements, it may not be possible for individuals from visa required countries to travel to the State at this time unless the individual qualifies under priority/emergency situations.

As such, a new process is being implemented whereby all employment permit applicants (employers and employees) for passport holders from visa required countries will be contacted and asked if they would like to:

  • Proceed with the application as it is considered that the role is on the priority/emergency list.
  • Hold application in the employment permit processing queue for processing at a later date, when the temporary Visa arrangements have been rescinded.
  • Withdraw the application with a full refund provided.

Employment Permit applications for a non-visa required country.

Employment Permit applications for non-visa required countries will continue to be processed.

Next Steps: All travellers should review the current policies before travelling. Employers should note that if an employee is not subject to the above exemption, then they may need to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Ireland.

Analysis & Comments:

The Irish government has made this decision as part of their efforts to mitigate the spread of the new variant of COVID-19.

Employers should consider that this may cause delays to intended start dates of their potential employees, if the employment cannot be carried out from home.

If you have employees or potential new hires who may be impacted by the above changes, please contact the Deloitte immigration team to assist.

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