What makes Ireland a unique country to travel to?
Ireland is a highly developed democracy with a modern economy. Tourist facilities are widely available.
A Garda Síochána (Garda), translated as "Guardians of the Peace of Ireland,” is the national police force providing all state security, policing and immigration enforcement duties countrywide. Ireland has a relatively low rate of violent crime. Petty crime and residential crime is much more common, especially in urban and tourist areas. Rates for residential break-ins, theft, burglary, and purse-snatching have all risen in recent years, and thieves often target rental cars and tourists, particularly in the vicinity of tourist attractions. In rare cases, these crimes have involved physical assault or violence, more commonly in Dublin. Avoid parks after dark and avoid showing signs of affluence in addition to guarding your valuables, passport and wallet. We recommend you leave your passport in a secure location separate from your purse or luggage. Do not leave your drinks unattended at bars or restaurants, as there have been reported incidents of drinks being spiked with illegal substances, leading to robbery and sexual assaults. Please practice sound personal security practices and maintain an awareness of your surroundings during your stay in Ireland.
ATM Fraud: Crimes involving ATMs are a concern. Protect your PIN at all times and look closely at ATMs for evidence of tampering before use. Criminals have used “skimmers” on ATMs, especially in tourist areas. Skimmers are usually small electronic devices attached to the outside of an ATM to steal the ATM or credit card data. Most ATMs in Ireland now have signs or electronic warnings that advise customers to look closely at the ATM for evidence of tampering before using. Be aware that in busy areas, thieves use distraction techniques such as waiting until the PIN has been entered and then pointing to money on the ground or asking for loose change. While the ATM user is distracted, another person will quickly withdraw the cash and leave. If you are distracted in any way, cancel the transaction immediately. If the machine does not return your card, report the incident to the issuing bank right away.
Internet scams: Online fraud scams have been reported in recent years, and travelers should verify through local authorities, family, or friends, the authenticity of any solicited or unsolicited requests for assistance. If you receive an email from family or friends requesting assistance, we advise you to try first to contact the loved one at the last known phone number and/or to verify the story/circumstances with a neutral third party you know and trust before sending any funds.You should view with skepticism any unsolicited invitations to travel to Ireland to collect winnings or an inheritance. There are no licenses or fees required when transiting Irish airports, emergency medical treatment is never withheld pending payment of fees, and hotels in Ireland will not detain guests for lack of funds without involving the police. A claim that a hospital or hotel will not let someone depart until the bill is settled is usually a sign of a scam. Visit the U.S. Department of State's website for more information on International Internet Financial Scams and how to protect yourself.
Do not buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal to bring back into the United States, you may be breaking local law, too.
While you are traveling in Ireland, you are subject to local laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different from our own. If you break local laws in Ireland, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It is very important to know what’s legal and what’s not where you are going. In some circumstances, driving under the influence could land you immediately in jail. These criminal penalties will vary from country to country. There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit, but still illegal in the United States. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime in Ireland and also prosecutable in the United States.
Persons violating Ireland’s laws, including its tough drunk-driving rules, even unknowingly, may be arrested, imprisoned and/or deported. Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking illegal drugs in Ireland are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.
Arrest notifications in host country: Based on the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, bilateral agreements with certain countries, and customary international law, if you are arrested in Ireland you have the option to request that the police, prison officials, or other authorities alert the U.S. Embassy of your arrest.
Medical Facilities and Health Information
Modern medical facilities and highly skilled medical practitioners are available in Ireland, but due to high demand, access to medical specialists and admissions to hospitals for certain non-life-threatening medical conditions may result in extensive waiting lists. It is not unusual for emergency room (ER) services to be very busy or for post-treatment admissions to include a long wait (sometimes overnight) on a gurney in a hallway rather than in a shared or private room.
Over-the-counter medications of most types are available, but many U.S. brands are not. (Ask the pharmacist about substitutes.) Some medications available over the counter in the United States may require a prescription in Ireland. Irish pharmacists may not be able to dispense medication prescribed by U.S. physicians and may direct you to obtain a prescription from an Irish doctor before providing your required medication.
If you are traveling to Ireland and may require medical treatment while in the country, consult your personal physician prior to traveling. A list of Irish general practitioners in each area of Ireland may be obtained from the website of the Irish College of General Practitioners. Emergency services usually respond quickly.
Safety and Security
Travelers should exercise sound personal safety practices to minimize their chance of becoming a victim of petty street crime. Travelers should be aware of their surroundings and avoid unlighted, non-tourist areas
We remind you that even demonstrations and protests intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and possibly escalate into violence. You should avoid the areas of such gatherings if possible, and be careful within the vicinity of any demonstrations. You should stay current with media coverage of local events and be aware of your surroundings at all times.
Travelers to Northern Ireland from the Republic of Ireland should consult the Country Specific Information for the United Kingdom and Gibraltar for more detailed information. Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom but shares a mostly unpatrolled land border with the Republic of Ireland.
Traffic Safety and Road Conditions
Motorists drive on the left side of the road in Ireland, and road conditions can differ significantly from those in the United States. If you do not have experience driving on the left, you should be especially cautious as tourists driving on the incorrect side of the road are the cause of several serious accidents each year. Most intersections in Ireland use circular “roundabouts” instead of signals, and it is important that motorists pay close attention to signs and yield the right of way to those already in the roundabout. At signals, turning on a red light is illegal; you must wait for either a full green (any direction turn permitted) or directional green light (which could be straight, left, or right) before proceeding with caution. Most rental cars in Ireland have manual transmission; it can be difficult to find automatic transmission rental cars.
Road conditions are generally good, but once you exit the main highways, country roads are likely to be narrow, uneven, and winding. Roads are more dangerous during the summer and on holiday weekends due to increased traffic. Police periodically set up road blocks to check for drunk drivers. Penalties for driving under the influence can be severe.
You may use your existing U.S. driving license in Ireland for a temporary stay; this can be for any period of time up to a maximum of one year. Some insurance and car rental companies may request an International Driving Permit in addition to your existing driving license. If you wish to apply for an International Driving Permit, please contact the American Automobile Association. You are required to apply for an Irish driving license if you become a resident of Ireland.
More information on driving in Ireland can be found on U.S. Embassy Dublin’s website. For specific information concerning Irish driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, please visit the official tourism guide for Ireland.
Taxi rates vary with time of day and location. Ask your hotel or innkeeper for the number of a call-dispatched taxi service if you plan to be out during less busy times. Bus service in the cities is generally adequate, although many buses are crowded and they frequently run late. Pay close attention to where bus stops are in both directions, as the drop-off and pick-up locations could be several blocks away from each other. Intercity bus and train services are generally good.