British-Irish Visa Scheme

A new Memorandum of Understanding will allow the UK and Ireland to share data and exchange information which, it is hoped, will allow visitors from India and China to travel more easily between the two countries.

This "British-Irish Visa Scheme" will allow Chinese and Indian visitors to travel to the UK and Ireland on a single visit visa. The scheme will be launched in China in October and in India soon afterwards. The Home Office hopes more than 10,000 visitors will use the scheme.

The Home Secretary Theresa May said she was "delighted to be able to sign this Memorandum of Understanding" and that it "will make it easier and more attractive for travellers to visit both Ireland and the UK, while at the same strengthening Common Travel Area borders". Frances Fitzgerald, Minister for Justice and Equality, said the Scheme is expected to "provide a major boost to tourism for both countries is a very practical example of the transformation in British Irish relations".

The new Scheme will allow Chinese and Indian citizens to transit through the UK on route to the Republic of Ireland under the Transit Without Visa Concession ("TWOV"). To qualify individuals must meet the criteria for the TWOV and hold an Irish short stay visa or subsequent stamp conferring leave in Ireland endorsed with ‘BIVS’. No additional requirements are being imposed on such individuals, other than those already required of them as visa nationals for the purposes of entry clearance to travel to the UK.

The UK will recognize certain Irish visas under the British-Irish Visa Scheme. It will therefore no longer necessary to impose a transit visa requirement on Chinese and Indian citizens who have been issued a visa under this scheme.

The government have indicated that subsequent rollout of the Scheme to other nationalities is envisaged but this will be subject to the outcome of an evaluation process of the first phase.

The authorisation is hoped to facilitate tourism to the Republic of Ireland and the UK by removing the requirement for Indian and Chinese citizens, eligible for the British-Irish Visa Scheme and subject to the enhanced Irish visa regime, to obtain transit visas to travel to the Republic of Ireland through the UK.