UK and Ireland Launch Single Visa Scheme
IRELAND – Ireland and the United Kingdom formally launched the British-Irish Visa Scheme.
The agreement was signed on Monday, 6 October 2014 at the Irish Embassy in London by Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald and the British home secretary, Theresa May.
In her address at the launch, Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald said: “For the first time, tourists and business visitors will be able to visit the United Kingdom and Ireland on a single visa, issued by either country. A visitor coming to Ireland will be able to travel north/south on the island and east/west to mainland UK without multiple visas.”
She explains that this scheme will be rolled out in phases. “China and India will be the first countries to benefit from the British-Irish Visa Scheme – China later this month, followed by India very shortly thereafter. A review in early 2015 should lead to the rollout of the scheme to all countries by the end of next year,” she said.
The minister also reveals that “the Home Secretary is also taking an initiative that will allow the lifting of transit visas for visitors en-route to Ireland.”
Although Ireland and the UK are part of the European Union (EU), they are not included in the European Union’s visa-free Schengen travel zone, which comprises 26 European countries. This British-Irish visa scheme is a mini-Schengen zone between Ireland and the UK only.