Travel documents

Republic of Ireland

Country Report: Travel documents Last updated: 10/07/24


Irish Refugee Council Visit Website

According to Section 55 IPA, the Minister for Justice and Equality, on application by the person concerned, shall issue a travel document to a qualified person and his or her family member. The Minister for Justice may not, however, issue a travel document if the person has not furnished the required information as requested by the Minister, or the Minister considers that to issue it would not be in the best interests of national security, public health or public order or would be contrary to public policy.

Both refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection in Ireland are entitled to apply for travel documents, which is done by application form to the ISD Travel Document Section. The application requirements differ slightly between the two categories of applicant, in that the applications of subsidiary protection beneficiaries are subject to the Minster’s satisfaction that the applicant is “unable to obtain a travel document from the relevant authority of the country of his or her nationality or, as the case may be, former habitual residence.”[1] While this does not reflect an overt distinction in theory, in practice, it means that beneficiaries of subsidiary protection can be required to demonstrate that they have made every effort to prove that they are unable to obtain a travel document from another relevant authority before they are issued with an Irish travel document.

Beyond that, the travel document application process for both refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection is uniform. Applicants are required to fill out an application form, submit four passport-sized photographs, a copy of documentation from the Department of Justice issuing permission to remain in the state, a copy of the applicant’s Garda Naturalisation and Immigration Bureau registration card, and an €80 application fee.[2]

According to the ISD, the validity of travel documents for a holder of a “1951 Convention Travel Document” (person with refugee status) is ten years, in line with the validity of Irish passports.[3]

Travel Documents granted on foot of subsidiary protection are issued for the duration of their permission to remain. This is generally for a period of three years from when status is granted under Section 23 of the European Union (Subsidiary Protection) Regulations 2013.[4] The travel document is renewed in line with the period of permission granted after that by the person’s local Registration / Immigration Office.[5] Furthermore, Schedule 3 of the Subsidiary Protection Regulations states that the “maximum validity of a travel document is 10 years.”

The primary limitation on use of travel documents is that the country of origin/persecution of the holder is not permitted for the purposes of travel.[6] Other than that, beneficiaries of refugee or subsidiary protection status in Ireland are both equally entitled to travel in or out of the State with their respective travel documents. While this enables travel to most EU Member States without a visa, it is impressed upon document holders to enquire with the embassy of their intended travel destination in advance, in order to ascertain the necessity to obtain a visa as each State may have individual requirements based on nationality, etc..[7] Holders of Irish refugee and subsidiary protection documents do not require a re-entry permit upon return to Ireland.[8]

Following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the government advised against all travel outside of Ireland for non-essential purposes. In February 2021, following a significant increase in the infection rate in Ireland, new restrictions targeting non-essential travel overseas were announced by Government. These included fines for those leaving the country for non-essential purposes, as well as mandatory hotel quarantine on arrival from certain destinations.[9] Following a reduction in the number of COVID-19 cases in summer 2021, restrictions on travel abroad were eased. Persons travelling abroad were advised to check the public health advice, document requirements and COVID-19 restrictions that are in place in the country to which they were travelling. Additionally, on return to Ireland, individuals were required to complete a passenger locator form and show proof of being fully vaccinated or having recently recovered from COVID-19. Where a passenger could not demonstrate vaccination status or proof of having recovered from COVID-19, they were required to have a PCR test taken within 72 hours of arrival.

Following the announcement of further restrictions on travel, the Irish Refugee Council wrote to the Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee and the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, outlining the importance of ensuring continued access to the protection process and raising issues with regard to mandatory hotel quarantine. It was emphasised that access to the protection process at Irish airports should not be affected or curtailed by any of the changes made as a result of banning non-essential travel. Moreover, particular concern was raised in relation to the cost of mandatory quarantine for individuals arriving under family reunification procedures of the International Protection Act 2015 or to seek international protection under the Act. It was requested that both categories of individuals be considered in the bracket of travellers who cannot afford hotel quarantine costs. In addition, it was noted that individuals seeking protection may require particular services, including medical assistance and legal advice and that special supports were likely to be needed for asylum seekers in circumstances where they were required to isolate for 14-days alone in a hotel room.[10]

In July 2022, the State suspended for a period of 12 months visa-free entry for individuals with refugee status traveling on Convention Travel from 20 so-called ‘safe’ European countries. Previously, pursuant to the European Agreement on the Abolition of Visas for Refugees, those with refugee status could travel to and within Ireland for up to 90 days without requiring a visa or prior clearance. Following the suspension, those seeking to travel to Ireland are now required to apply for a visa in order to enter Ireland, facing processing times of approximately 8-14 weeks.[11] The measure has been implemented with a view to protecting the ‘integrity’ of the immigration system, according to the government, who cited an increase in those who had already received refugee status in another European country travelling to Ireland applying for asylum.[12] According to statistics released by the Department of Justice, 479 such applications were made, representing 7% of the overall applications for international protection during that period.[13]




[1] Regulation 24(2) European Union (Subsidiary Protection) Regulations 2013.

[2] Department of Justice and Equality, Travel Document Application Form, available at:; INIS, Travel Document Photo Requirements, available at:; INIS, Travel Document Information Note, available at:

[3] Ibid.

[4] Regulation 23 European Union (Subsidiary Protection) Regulations 2013.

[5] Information provided by INIS, March 2018.

[6] Information provided by INIS, March 2018.

[7] Citizens Information, Travel documents for people with refugee or subsidiary protection status, available at:

[8] INIS, Travel Document Information Note, available at:

[9] Irish Times, ‘Covid-19: New restrictions to target foreign travel’, 10 February 2021, available at:

[10] Irish Refugee Council, Letter to Government on access to protection process and hotel quarantining recommendations, 12 February 2021, available at:

[11] European Commission, Suspension of Visa-free Movement Programme for Refugees, 18 July 2022, available at:

[12] Government of Ireland, Government agrees to temporarily require refugees travelling to Ireland from safe European countries to hold visas, 18 July 2022, available at:

[13] European Commission, Suspension of Visa-free Movement Programme for Refugees, 18 July 2022, available at:

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation