Expert advice on how South African travellers can navigate Ireland’s new visa requirements

A traveller holds a South African passport. Picture: Supplied

A traveller holds a South African passport. Picture: Supplied

Published Jul 10, 2024


Ireland’s Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee, announced new visa requirements for South African and Botswana nationals on July 8, 2024, which come into effect from Wednesday, July 10.

According to the new rules, nationals from both countries will be required to obtain a visa before travelling to Ireland. A transit visa will also be required if you are intending to transit through Ireland en route to another destination.

“This is a carefully considered decision which will bring Ireland into closer alignment with the Schengen Area in respect of both of these countries, and into line with the UK in respect of South Africa,” said McEntee.

He said that Irish visa requirements were under ongoing review, having regard for the need to ensure that effective immigration controls were in place, while also facilitating those who wished to travel to Ireland for the purposes of a visit, to work, to study or to join family members.

According to Flight Centre South Africa, although the change had been under consideration for some time, the swift implementation during peak travel season had impacted travel plans to Ireland, a traditionally popular visa-free destination for South Africans.

Lynette Machiri, Customer Experience Leader at Flight Centre South Africa, said that this unexpected announcement had left many travellers with questions and concerns.

“We are actively engaging with the Irish embassy to gather the latest information and provide clarity to our customers. We understand that many travellers may be worried about potential disruptions to their trips, especially with the tight turnaround time for visa applications,” said Machiri.

She added that some carriers had unfortunately indicated they were unlikely to offer waivers, further underscoring the need for swift action; however, they were available to assist in every way possible to minimise the impact on their customers’ travel plans.

Flight Centre South Africa has also offered advice to South African travellers on how to navigate the new rules.

Immediate action required for travellers

Travellers departing on or after July 10, 2024, must obtain a visa before travelling to Ireland.

Transitional arrangements

Those with existing bookings made before 10 July 2024, and travelling before 9 August 2024, may travel without a visa but must present a valid passport and proof of purchase from their carrier (not from a travel agent).

Visa application process

The Dublin Visa Office has established a dedicated South Africa desk to process applications. Three Visa Application Centres (VACs) will also be established throughout South Africa, with visa service provider VFS Global.

  • Information on how to apply for an Irish visa can be found on avats-for-a-visa-preclearance-application/
  • After completing an online application, applicants will receive a visa summary form with details on booking an appointment at a VAC to present their documents. It is advised that no visa documents should be submitted by post or in person to the Irish Embassy in Pretoria. Details of VAC locations and appointment booking can be found on
  • When it comes to exemptions, diplomatic passport holders and those with valid Irish Residence Permit (IRP) cards are exempt.

Flight Centre said that further information and FAQs, travellers can refer to the Irish government’s official announcement: botswana-and-south-africa/

In conclusion, Flight Centre highlighted its commitment to support all travellers during this transition, and its expert travel consultants would be on hand to guide customers through the new visa application process, address concerns such as acceptable proof of purchase for existing bookings, and explore alternative options for those with travel dates after August 9, 2024, who may now require a visa.

“We understand the stress and uncertainty this situation has caused. Flight Centre is committed to supporting our customers and ensuring their travel plans are as smooth as possible,” said Machiri.