South Africans lose visa-free entry to Ireland

09 July 2024 - 07:39
By TimesLIVE
South Africans have lost visa-free access to Ireland. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/TAIGA South Africans have lost visa-free access to Ireland. Stock photo.

South Africa and Botswana nationals are required to obtain a visa before travelling to Ireland, effective from Wednesday.

A transit visa will also be required if 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 countries, and into line with the UK in respect of South Africa," justice minister Helen McEntee said on Monday.

She said in recent years a significant number of international protection applications, which are referred to as refugee status in South Africa, have been received from nationals of Botswana and South Africa.

The Dublin visa office will establish a dedicated desk to process applications from South African passport holders. The department will also establish three visa applications centres in South Africa  with visa service provider VFS Global.

Transitional arrangements will be put in place for nationals of Botswana and South Africa who have existing arrangements made before July 10 2024 to travel to Ireland until August 9. Those who have existing travel arrangements are advised to check for further information.

Ireland is clamping down on illegal entry into the country.

More than 3,700 "doorstop" operations were carried out on flights that pose risks of irregular migration at Dublin airport in the first half of 2024, and more than 115 people were arrested for arriving without appropriate documentation in the same period.

The government said its border management unit continues to provide training and 24-hour advice to airlines on how to identify and deal with immigration abuse. A review of carrier liability legislation has been completed and new increased levels of fines will soon  be introduced.

Other nationalities who require visas for travel to Ireland include Afghanistan, Bahrain, Belarus, Egypt, India, Jamaica, Nigeria, China, Qatar, Rwanda, Thailand, Venezuela and Zimbabwe.

A year ago, South African passport holders had visa-free access to 106 countries. These include Sri Lanka, Thailand, Malaysia, Argentina, Israel, Seychelles, Peru and Qatar. A visa was required for 121 countries, including Morocco, Mexico and Malta.

Two years ago a South Africa passport allowed citizens visa-free entry to 105 countries in the world, ranking it in 55th place from a high of 35th place in 2008 and 2009.

The government was advised then by travel experts to do more to reduce passport fraud to improve the rating and ensure an effective, automated evisa system to improve the processing of applications.