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Great Britain

If you’re travelling to Great Britain, our travel advice and updates give you practical tips and useful information.

Get travel and medical insurance

Before travelling, the Department strongly recommends that you obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), available by contacting the Health Service Executive, and that you also obtain comprehensive travel insurance which will cover all overseas medical costs, including medical repatriation/evacuation, repatriation of remains and legal costs. You should check any exclusions and, in particular, that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.

Overview

Security status

We advise you to take normal precautions.

Latest Travel Alert

Following the attacks in Manchester and London this year, we recommend you remain vigilant, monitor media reporting and follow the advice of local authorities.

Emergency assistance

The best help is often close at hand so if you have problems, start by talking to your local contacts, tour operator representative or hotel management.

You can contact the emergency services in Great Britain by dialling 999.

Our tips for Safe Travels:

  • Purchase comprehensive travel insurance which covers all your intended activities.
  • Get a European Health Insurance Card
  • Add an alert for your destination within the Travelwise App.
  • Register your details with us so that we can contact you quickly if there’s an unforeseen crisis like a natural disaster or a family emergency.
  • Follow us on twitter @dfatravelwise for the latest travel updates.
  • Read our ‘Know Before You Go’ guide.

Safety and security

Terrorism

The British authorities currently place the terrorist threat level for Great Britain at "severe", the second highest alert level, which means an attack remains highly likely. There is still a global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, which could be against civilian targets, including places frequented by tourists and expatriates. Additional security measures are in place at airports, throughout transportation networks and at high profiles venues in Great Britain. Travellers may experience delays.

Crime

Crime remains relatively low in Great Britain but you should take sensible precautions:

  • Don’t carry your credit card, travel tickets and money together - leave spare cash and valuables in a safe place.
  • Don’t carry your passport unless absolutely necessary and leave a copy of your passport (and travel and insurance documents) with family or friends at home.

Reporting crime

If you’re a victim of a crime while in Great Britain, report it to the local police immediately. And you can contact us at the Irish Embassy in London or the Irish Consulate in Edinburgh if you need help.

Driving

If you’re planning to drive in Great Britain, remember although the regulations are very similar to Ireland, you should always exercise caution.

If you want to drive:

  • Bring your full Irish driving licence and make sure you have adequate and appropriate insurance.
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is against the law and you risk being detained, fined or banned from driving if caught.

Vehicle hire

If you’re hiring a vehicle, we advise you not to hand over your passport as a form of security. If you’re allowing your passport to be photocopied, keep it in your sight at all times.

Check that you have adequate insurance and read the small print of the vehicle hire contract (particularly any waiver that will come into effect if the vehicle is damaged).

 

Local laws and customs

Illegal drugs

Illegal drug use (no matter what the drug) carries stiff penalties, including fines and long prison terms.

Entry requirements (visa/passport)

A Common Travel Area (CTA) is in existence between Ireland and the UK (including the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man). Under the CTA, it isn’t necessary for Irish citizens travelling to the UK to carry their passport with them. They must, however, carry an acceptable form of photo-identification, examples of which are listed below.

  • A valid passport or passport card
  • A driver's licence with photo
  • An international student card
  • A national ID card
  • A bus pass with photo
  • A Garda ID with photo
  • A work ID with photo

Please note, however, that some airlines and other carriers require that you have a valid passport before you can travel with them. Please check with your travel company regarding their requirements before travelling.

Health

Travel Insurance

We can’t pay for emergency medical repatriation, repatriation of remains, or for expenses as a result of a personal emergency while you are abroad. If you buy an appropriate travel insurance policy, these costs will be covered, provided you haven’t broken the terms and conditions.

Buying comprehensive travel insurance can save you and your family a lot of money if something goes wrong. It will also ensure that you get the medical attention you need, when you need it. Hospital bills can quickly run into thousands of euro, and a medical evacuation back to Ireland can cost thousands more.

Not all policies are the same, and the cheapest one might be cheap for a reason. Make sure your policy covers all the activities you plan to do on your trip. Insurance Ireland recommend that you purchase a policy that provides a minimum medical cover of €1 million.

European Health Insurance Card

As an Irish resident you are entitled to get healthcare through the public system in countries of the European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland if you become ill or injured while on a temporary stay there. Ensure that you get or renew your EHIC (the new name for the E111) before you go, and remember, you need one for every person travelling in your group.

Apply for your EHIC and find out more information.

The EHIC is not a substitute for proper travel insurance provided by a reputable insurer. It doesn’t cover medical repatriation, ongoing medical treatment or treatment of a non-urgent nature. Also, some private hospitals may not accept the EHIC, so you should check with the hospital administrator beforehand.

Medical treatment

Visitors requiring immediate treatment for serious injuries/illness should call 999 or go to the nearest hospital with an Accident and Emergency department (A&E). For minor illnesses and injuries there are a number of National Health Service (NHS) walk-in-centres, details on www.nhs.uk

NHS Direct provide a 24 hour telephone service for information on particular health conditions at telephone 0845 4647. The UK Department of Health provides full details on entitlements and costs for overseas visitors on their website www.dh.gov.uk

Vaccinations

Irish citizens don’t require vaccinations for travel to Great Britain.