Ireland hits South Africa and Botswana with new Visa requirements

The holiday is over for visa-free travel to Ireland for citizens of South Africa and Botswana. 

Yesterday’s announcement by the government of Ireland — during the peak European summer — has come as a shock to those with planned trips to the Emerald Isle, throwing travellers’ arrangements into disarray.

In a statement released on Monday, the Irish Immigration Service gave notice that from 10 July 2024, holders of South African and Botswanan passports will have to apply for a visa before travelling to Ireland.

There’s a month-long “grace period” for travellers with existing plans to travel to Ireland before 10 August, which must be supported by proof of their paid-for flights and valid passport, to be produced if requested by a carrier or an immigration officer. 

Those who booked before 10 July 2024 but are only travelling to Ireland after 9 August 2024 need a visa.

Those who have booked a trip to Ireland after 10 July also need a visa, even if they plan to travel before 10 August.

A transit visa is now mandatory if passing through Ireland on your way to another country.

A single-entry visa will cost R1,200; multiple-entry visas are R2,000.

People in possession of a valid Irish Residence Permit card do not need a visa.

Irish Ambassador Austin Gormley took to social media yesterday, explaining the updated regulations. He said the new requirements align with the Schengen area and the UK, and Ireland will continue to facilitate legitimate travel to the country.

“Ireland, of course, enjoys very strong politics in Africa, including political, economic, people-to-people and, of course, sport. Not least, probably, this will not change.”

Gormley said they were working on a control system that works as smoothly and effectively as possible and will continue to facilitate the flow of legitimate business, tourism, education, sport and other travel to Ireland. 

“We appreciate very much cooperation as this new system rolls out. And please be assured of the warm Irish welcome.”

Evan Cunningham, the Consul for the Embassy of Ireland, told Daily Maverick that his government regularly reviewed visa policy and in this instance, the change aligns Ireland with the UK, with whom they share a common travel area, and with the European Union.

“The Department of Justice has contracted VFS to operate three Visa Application Centres in South Africa (Pretoria, Johannesburg and Cape Town) which will start accepting visa applications from South African nationals from Wednesday, July 10,” he explained. 

“The Government of Ireland (is) keen to ensure minimal disruption to travel for South Africans planning on visiting Ireland and we are confident that the resources in place at both VFS and at the Dublin Visa Office will allow South Africans to continue to travel to Ireland. If any South Africans are concerned about their travel plans, we advise them to contact”

The new visa requirements have left travellers scrambling to adjust their travel plans. And South African travel agents are less than happy. 

In response to the announcement, the Association of South African Travel Agents (Asata) expressed frustration at the Irish government’s abrupt decision, saying although it had been under consideration for some time, “the sudden implementation has caught many travel agents and travellers off guard”.

It wants the Irish government to extend the grace period to minimise disruption for travellers who have already made plans. 

Asata CEO Otto de Vries said while they understood the need for governments to review and adjust immigration policies, the “lack of notice and immediate implementation of this decision is regrettable”.

“Ireland has long been a favoured destination for South Africans, and this change will undoubtedly impact travel between our two nations.”

De Vries said the travellers with existing bookings now face uncertainty and potential disruptions to their trips. Planning future holidays in Ireland has also become more complex due to the added layer of securing a visa and the associated costs.

The Flight Centre travel group is also unhappy with the development.

Lynette Machiri, customer experience leader at Flight Centre South Africa, said they were engaging with the Irish embassy to gather the latest information and provide clarity to their 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. 

“Unfortunately, some carriers have indicated they are unlikely to offer waivers, further underscoring the need for swift action. We are here to assist in every way possible to minimise the impact on our customers’ travel plans.”

To apply for an Irish visa, visit

For details of visa application centre locations and appointment booking, see

Communicated by: The Daily Maverick