Today (28 October), British Ambassador to China Sir Sebastian Wood and Irish Ambassador Paul Kavanagh officially launched the British-Irish Visa Scheme between Ireland and the United Kingdom.
Announced earlier this month, the scheme is now available to applicants in China.
Under the scheme, Chinese visitors to Ireland can use their valid Irish short stay visa for onward entry to the UK, or their UK visitor visa for travel to Ireland. The visa holder must first travel to the country that issued the visa, but will then be able to move freely between the UK and Ireland for the period of the visa holder’s permitted stay.
Currently a Chinese visitor planning to travel to Ireland and then on to the UK, has to apply in advance for two visas, which requires two application fees and two separate application processes. Under the new scheme the applicant only needs to apply once. The scheme will allow spontaneous trips from Ireland to the UK, for example a day trip to Northern Ireland, or London.
Another benefit of the scheme is that a valid Irish biometric visa will also be recognised by the UK as an exemption document for the purposes of transit. This means that a visitor flying to Ireland via a UK airport, such as Heathrow or Gatwick wouldn’t need to obtain a transit visa, provided they travel onto Ireland within 24 hours of landing in the UK.
HMA Sir Sebastian Wood said:
I’m delighted to launch this new single visa product to enable visitors from China to come to the UK and Ireland. It has never been easier to apply for a UK visa and latest figures show that 96% of applicants receive one. I hope this new service will encourage even more people to visit the UK and Ireland, and experience our world-class attractions, vibrant culture, and warm welcome.
Irish Ambassador Paul Kavanagh said:
Following on from the joint announcement of the Irish and British Governments, I am delighted to welcome the launch of this scheme, which will make it easier for Chinese visitors to travel to Ireland and the United Kingdom. I am particularly pleased that China is the first country in which this scheme has rolled out. I am grateful to the Chinese authorities for all of their cooperation and support in this regard.
Further details of the scheme are available here.