Practical Information & Facts

From visas to currency, we have all the practical information you’ll need for a business trip to Ireland.

Geography, Demographics & Climate


Ireland is 385 kilometres/300 miles at its longest; 304 kilometres/190 miles at its widest. 

Ireland is divided into four provinces – Ulster, Munster, Leinster and Connacht, which make up 32 counties.

The Republic occupies 26 counties and its capital city is Dublin.

Northern Ireland is part of the UK and its capital is Belfast.

The Republic is a constitutional democracy and a member of the European Union.


The population of the island is currently approximately six million, with approximately 4.2 million living in the Republic and 1.8 million living in Northern Ireland. The island of Ireland enjoys a rich diversity of ethnic groups and cultures.


The climate is mild and temperate (showers can occur any time of the year).

Summer temperatures range 15-25 degrees Celsius (60-75 Fahrenheit).

Spring and autumn temperatures average around 10+ degrees Celsius (50+ Fahrenheit).

Winter is 0 to 10 degrees Celsius (30 to 50 Fahrenheit).


Accommodation in Ireland ranges from ultra-modern boutique hotels to elegant castles. Castles and privately-owned estates can be hired complete with staff and a programme of outdoor activities for an all-encompassing stay.

Hotel Classifications

Classifications include stately country houses, luxurious castles and modern premises.

Five Star

At the top end of the scale are luxurious hotels with spacious guest accommodation and suites available. These fine hotels boast some of the country’s best restaurants and offer table d’hôte and/or á la carte lunch/dinner menus. Exceptional service and a personalised welcome are standard.

Four Star

Four-star properties comprise contemporary hotels of excellent quality and charming period houses renovated to a very high standard complete with all modern comforts. All guest accommodation is of high standard and half suites are usually available. Table d’hôte and/or á la carte lunch and dinner menus are available.

Three Star

These range from small, family-operated premises to larger, modern hotels. Guest rooms are well decorated with the emphasis on comfort and all have private bathrooms with a bath and/or shower. Table d’hôte and/or á la carte dinner menus are available.

These hotels offer a range of services making them ideal for the cost-conscious traveller seeking comfort. See accommodation search.

Currency & Banks

The Republic of Ireland uses the Euro, the common European currency, while Northern Ireland uses UK Sterling. However, most large stores in Northern Ireland accept Euro as well. Bank opening times are generally: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday banks are open 10am-4pm.Thursdays 10am-5pm in Dublin (and some other regions). 

Banks in smaller towns generally open until 5pm one day a week. In small towns and rural areas, banks may close for lunch between 12.30pm and 1.30pm. 

In Northern Ireland, most banks open 9.30am-4.30pm Monday-Friday, with some opening longer hours and on Saturday.

Any credit cards that bear the Visa or MasterCard logo will be widely accepted in Ireland. Visitors with other cards, including ones with the American Express symbol, should ask in advance if it will be accepted.


Visitors to Ireland from European Union countries are not required to make a declaration to customs at their place of entry. However, certain goods are prohibited or restricted to protect health and the environment; restricted goods include meat and poultry. Customs operate green and red channels at most ports and airports. If you need to declare goods over the duty and tax-free allowances for non-EU visitors, you must use the red channel. Pass through the green channel if you have nothing to declare.

Goods Obtained Within the EU

Although there are now no limits imposed on importing tobacco and alcohol products from one EU country to another, travellers should note that they may be required to prove at customs that the goods purchased are for personal use only.

Goods Obtained Outside the EU

The following goods may be imported by persons over the age of 17 without incurring customs duty:

- 800 cigarettes or 400 cigarillos or 200 cigars or 1kg of tobacco.

- 10l of spirits or 20l of intermediate products (e.g. port, sherry, etc, but not sparkling wine not exceeding 22% volume)


- 90l of wine (of which only 60L can be sparkling) or 110l of beer

Electric Current

The standard voltage in Ireland is 240 volts AC.  Sockets in Ireland and the UK differ from the US and mainland Europe.

A plug adaptor may be required for small appliances to work in the standard flat three-pin/round two-pin sockets here. Visitors bringing electrical appliances should ask an electrician or appliance dealer if it is possible to use a transformer.


Monday-Saturday 9am-6pm in most towns and cities.

Thursdays – Dublin and Belfast have late-night shopping to 8pm/9pm. 

Thursday and Friday – late night shopping in most malls/shopping centres.

Sunday – many shops are open 12pm-6pm.

Duty-free shopping is available at all the international airports.

Tax Refunds

Available to visitors at the end of their trip (exception EU residents). Price of most goods includes Value Added Tax (VAT). Ask for a tax-free shopping form with each purchase and present these forms to either Global Tax Free Shopping or Tax Back at the airport prior to your departure to avail of tax refund. Allow a little extra time for this. In Northern Ireland, check whether the store operates the Retail Export Scheme before you buy. The shop assistant will need your passport to complete the Tax Free Shopping form. This form requires presentation to Customs for verification prior to departure.

VAT Refund for Business Travellers to Ireland/Northern Ireland

Value Added Tax or VAT is payable in both the Republic of Ireland (21%) and in Northern Ireland 17.5% (20%). The good news is that usually VAT is included in the price you will be given and is not usually an extra charge. Also, there are many opportunities for business travellers to both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland to reclaim VAT payments back. 

Reclaiming VAT paid from the Republic of Ireland

The VAT element of accommodation expenses incurred when attending a business conference in Ireland can be claimed back by taxable businesses.

For more information on refunds from VAT incurred on accommodation in connection with attendance at qualifying conferences and for details on where to send the applicable forms please visit our VAT Refund support page or see the Irish Revenue Commissioners website.

Reclaiming VAT paid from Northern Ireland

VAT refunds for international organisers of events in Northern Ireland enjoy the benefits of UK legislation surrounding this. The UK provides more opportunities for reclaiming business expenses than many of its European neighbours, with many organisations able to get up to one sixth of the cost of their expenses back. Here are some frequently asked questions:

What is Value Added Tax?
VAT, unlike a sales tax, is already included in the price of most goods and services in all European Union countries. In Northern Ireland (as with the UK) with few exceptions, just one rate of VAT is charged (20%).

Do I have to pay VAT?
Yes, you will have to pay VAT on most goods and services purchased for your event but reclaiming VAT is easy.

Is VAT payable on everything?
The following are some of the items exempt from UK VAT in Northern Ireland - public transport, coach travel, air travel, taxi fares, magazines & books.

Which part of my costs can I reclaim?
You can include in your claim for VAT refund your general business expenses for example:

Conference and exhibition expenses (including space hire and contractors' fees), hotel rooms, food /drink, car rental, professional fees, telephone and fax, secretarial services.

Are procedures different for EU and non-EU countries?
Yes. VAT reclaim advisors and UK HM Customs and Excise staff can help you to make your claim.

What must I have to support my claim?
Your original invoices, not copies, showing the amount of VAT you have been charged and a certificate of status.

When can I make my claim?
As soon as you have your invoices. A deadline exists of 31 December for claims occurring in the year running from July 1st - June 31st.

Can I get help to make a claim?
Yes. Seek advice as soon as you start planning your next event. Though VAT reclaim companies will charge a fee or commission for their services, you can still reduce the overall cost of your event by a significant amount.

How long does it take to process my claim?
Claims are usually paid within 3 - 6 months.

Is the VAT on business expenses all that I can claim?
Don't forget many international visitors may reclaim the VAT paid on their personal purchases in the UK including souvenirs, clothing and leather goods.

Important note: The information provided is given in good faith and every effort has been made to ensure its accuracy. We can accept no responsibility for any error or misinterpretation. All liability for loss, disappointment, negligence or other damage caused by reliance on the information contained on this page is hereby excluded.

Smoking Ban

The Republic of Ireland has a blanket ban on smoking in all places of work to protect public health and reduce the incidences of smoking-related illness. Smoking is prohibited in public areas within the Republic of Ireland – this includes all bars, nightclubs and restaurants. Although hotel bedrooms may be exempt from the ban, it is applied to all other areas within hotels.


Only digital mobile/cell phones with GSM subscriptions and a roaming agreement will work on the island of Ireland. Visitors should consult with their supplier before departure.

Regional Tourism Authorities

Within each area of Ireland, you will find a regional tourism authority, which will look after your every need at a local level. For information on how to locate these offices, see below:

Fáilte Ireland South West
Áras Fáilte, Grand Parade, Cork
Tel: + 353 21 425 5100

Dublin Tourism
Dublin Tourism Centre, Suffolk Street, Dublin 2
Tel: + 353 1 6057700

Fáilte Ireland East Coast & Midlands
Clonard House, Dublin Road, Mullingar, County Westmeath
Tel: + 353 44 9348761

Fáilte Ireland West
Áras Fáilte, Forster Street, Galway
Tel: + 353 91 537700

Fáilte Ireland North West
Áras Redden, Temple Street, Sligo
Tel: + 353 71 9161201

Ireland's Shannon Region
Shannon Town Centre, County Clare
Tel: + 353 61 361555

Fáilte Ireland South East
4th Floor, Wallace House, Maritana Gate, Canada Street, Waterford
Tel: + 353 51 312700
For travel and tourism information:

Northern Ireland Tourist Board
59 North Street, Belfast BT1 1NB
Tel: + 44 028 9023 1221

Time Zone

Ireland is on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and, in accordance with daylight saving, clocks are put forward one hour in late March and back one hour at the end of October.  In summer months, it stays light until as late as 11pm but by mid-December, it can be dark by 4pm.

Visa, Passport and Embassies

UK citizens do not require a passport or visa to enter Ireland, but most carriers by air or sea now require some form of identification with photograph (usually either a passport or driving licence with photo).

Visitors are advised to check what form of ID is required with the individual airline, tour operator or travel agent before travelling. Visitors from other countries do require a passport, and it is wise to check with your travel operator whether your originating country requires a visa.

View the list of countries whose passport holders do not require visas to enter Ireland. Please note that a Schengen or UK visa or residence permission is NOT valid for travel to Ireland. If you are a national of a visa-required country, you will need to apply for an Irish visa in advance of travel to Ireland.

Find out if you require a visa to enter Northern Ireland . If you intend to travel to the UK prior to visiting Ireland you may be able to avail of the Short-stay Visa Waiver Programme.