British-Irish Visa Scheme


As reported by the Home Office yesterday, Chinese and Indian nationals can visit the UK and Ireland using a single visa when travelling on certain short stay and visitor visas under the British-Irish Visa Scheme. This also has positive business implications.

The British-Irish Visa Scheme will start in China by the end of October 2014 and in India soon afterwards.

Under the British-Irish visa scheme, some Irish short stay visas will allow onward travel to the UK and some UK visitor visas will allow onward travel to Ireland. For example, under the scheme an Indian or Chinese visitor in Dublin will be able to make a short trip to London or Belfast without needing a separate visa. Alternatively an Indian or Chinese visitor in London could travel to Dublin or Cork.

Only eligible Irish short stay visas applied for after the scheme starts are covered by the scheme.

All Indian and Chinese nationals who hold an eligible UK visitor visa (except ‘visitor in transit’ and ‘visitor for marriage or civil partnership’) are covered by the scheme. Currently the scheme only applies to Indian and Chinese nationals.

Eligible Irish visas
Indian and Chinese nationals can travel to the UK and Ireland using the Irish short stay visas:

visit (family/friend)
visit (tourist)
Indian and Chinese nationals with any other type of Irish visa (for example a work or a study visa) will still need to apply for a separate UK visit visa to visit the UK from Ireland.

Eligible UK visas
Indian and Chinese nationals can travel to Ireland and the UK using the UK visitor visas:

General Visitor visa
Business Visitor visa
Child Visitor visa – (accompanied only)
Student Visitor visa
Family Visitor visa
Entertainer Visitor visa
Private Medical Treatment Visitor visa
Sports Visitor visa
Parent of a Child at School visa
approved destination scheme
Prospective Entrepreneur visa
Permitted Paid Engagement visa

The scheme does not include the UK visas:

visitor in transit
visitor for marriage or civil partnership
If you are travelling to the UK under a ‘visitor in transit’ visa or a ‘visitor for marriage or civil partnership’ visa, or any other type of UK visa, you will also need a separate visa to visit Ireland.

Other nationalities
If a national of a country requires a visa for the UK but not for Ireland, those nationals will still require a visit visa to travel to the UK. The same will apply to any nationals who are not required to have a visa to visit the UK but are required to have one for Ireland.

Visa application centres
From October 2014 Ireland will start to share the UK’s visa application centres overseas and all Irish visa applicants will apply there for their visa. This gradual roll out will start in China, including Hong Kong, with India to follow soon afterwards.

To be eligible for the British-Irish visa scheme applicants for Irish short stay visas must apply at a UK/Irish visa application centre in India or China. Applications cannot be made at centres outside these two countries during the first phase of the scheme.

Applications for Irish visas will continue to be determined by the Irish authorities and applications for UK visas will continue to be determined by the UK authorities.

Visiting the UK and Ireland
The visa holder must first travel to the country that issued the visa. For example; if you have an Irish short stay visa and want to also visit the UK you must travel to Ireland first.

If you have a British visitor visa and want to also visit Ireland, you must travel to the UK first.

Holders of an Irish short stay visa will be able to transit in the UK as part of an onward journey to Ireland.

Individuals with an eligible visa under the British-Irish visa scheme will not need to apply for a UK transit visa if etheir flight takes them via the UK to Ireland. Passengers will need to travel on to Ireland within 24 hours of landing in the UK.


Founder and Managing Director Anne Morris is a fully qualified solicitor and trusted adviser to large corporates through to SMEs, providing strategic immigration and global mobility advice to support employers with UK operations to meet their workforce needs through corporate immigration.

She is a recognised by Legal 500and Chambers as a legal expert and delivers Board-level advice on business migration and compliance risk management as well as overseeing the firm’s development of new client propositions and delivery of cost and time efficient processing of applications.

Anne is an active public speaker, immigration commentator, and immigration policy contributor and regularly hosts training sessions for employers and HR professionals

About DavidsonMorris

As employer solutions lawyers, DavidsonMorris offers a complete and cost-effective capability to meet employers’ needs across UK immigration and employment law, HR and global mobility.

Led by Anne Morris, one of the UK’s preeminent immigration lawyers, and with rankings in The Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners, we’re a multi-disciplinary team helping organisations to meet their people objectives, while reducing legal risk and nurturing workforce relations.

Legal Disclaimer

The matters contained in this article are intended to be for general information purposes only. This article does not constitute legal advice, nor is it a complete or authoritative statement of the law, and should not be treated as such. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the information is correct at the time of writing, no warranty, express or implied, is given as to its accuracy and no liability is accepted for any error or omission. Before acting on any of the information contained herein, expert legal advice should be sought.

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