Ireland - Country Commercial Guide
Business Travel

Includes information on business customs, travel advisory, visa requirements, and other aspects of international travel.

Last published date: 2021-10-08

Business Customs

Given the close economic, political, and cultural relations that exist between Ireland and the United States, business opportunities for U.S. companies are broad based and the transactions are easily accomplished.  In general, Irish business executives are less formal than their European counterparts and the use of first names at an early stage of a business relationship is acceptable.  Friendship and mutual trust are highly valued and once an American has earned this trust, a productive working relationship can usually be expected.  However, principles of customary business courtesy, especially replying promptly to sales orders and requests for price quotations, are a prerequisite for success and should be practiced.  The exchange of business cards is widely used at the introductory stage of a business relationship – though they are less prevalent among the tech community.

Conservative business attire is recommended for business meetings and functions while the tech and start-up communities favor more casual attire.  Business appointments are required, and visitors are expected to be punctual.  Because of the moderating influence of warm ocean currents, medium-weight clothing may be worn most of the year.  A travel umbrella, rainwear, hat, and sturdy walking shoes should also be included in the wardrobe since there is occasional light rain (“liquid sunshine”) and many “soft” days.

Travel Advisory

The State Department’s Country Specific Information for Ireland can be found at this link.

Safety and Security

Ireland remains largely free of terrorist incidents.  While the 1998 ceasefire in Northern Ireland is holding, there have been incidents of violence in Northern Ireland associated with paramilitary organizations.  These have the potential for some spillover into Ireland.  Travelers to Northern Ireland should consult the Country Specific Information for the United Kingdom.

We remind you that even demonstrations and protests intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and possibly escalate into violence. You should avoid the areas of such gatherings if possible and be careful within the vicinity of any demonstrations. You should stay current with media coverage of local events and be aware of your surroundings at all times. For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs’ website, where the current Travel Advisories and Map can be found.

Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the United States and Canada, or for callers outside the United States and Canada, a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

The Department of State urges U.S. citizens to take responsibility for their own personal security while traveling overseas.  For general information about appropriate measures travelers can take to protect themselves in an overseas environment, see the Department of State’s Know Before You Go page.

Crime

Ireland has a relatively low rate of violent crime.  Petty crime and residential crime are much more common, especially in urban and tourist areas.  Rates for residential break-ins, theft, burglary, and purse-snatching have all risen in recent years and thieves often target rental cars and tourists, particularly in the vicinity of tourist attractions.  In rare cases, these crimes have involved physical assault or violence, more commonly in Dublin.  Avoid parks after dark and avoid showing signs of affluence in addition to guarding your valuables, passport and wallet. We recommend you leave your passport in a secure location separate from your purse or luggage.  Do not leave your drinks unattended at bars or restaurants, as there have been reported incidents of drinks being spiked with illegal substances, leading to robbery and sexual assaults.  Please practice sound personal security practices and maintain an awareness of your surroundings during your stay in Ireland.

Crimes involving credit and debit cards and automated teller machines (ATMs) are also a concern.  Travelers should protect their PIN numbers at all times and avoid using ATM machines that appear to have been tampered with.  There has been an increase in Ireland of the use of “skimmers” on ATM machines, especially in tourist areas.  Skimmers are usually small electronic devices that are attached to the outside of an ATM machine in order to “skim” the ATM or credit card data for later criminal use.  Most ATMs in Ireland now have electronic warnings about usage and advise customers to look closely at the ATM before using it.

Visa Requirements

Every U.S. traveler must have a valid U.S. passport.

Entry into Ireland is subject to Irish Immigration laws and inspection.  U.S. citizens who wish to enter Ireland must ensure they provide all documentation relating to the purpose of their trip to Ireland to the Irish Immigration official at the point of entry.

For those wishing to enter Ireland as a visitor, Irish Immigration may grant a stay of up to ninety days, however, they may grant a shorter stay depending on the documentation provided.  Those individuals wishing to remain in Ireland for longer than three months should contact the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) at http://www.inis.gov.ie/ in Dublin and outside of Dublin, the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB), Tel: +353-1-666-9100 for guidance.

A U.S. citizen entering Ireland who wishes to establish permanent residency must register with the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service in Dublin or outside of Dublin, the Garda National Immigration Bureau as soon as possible after entering the country.

U.S. citizens planning to work in Ireland must first obtain a work permit prior to traveling to Ireland.  These permits are issued by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.  Once the permit is issued, the traveler presents it to Immigration officials upon arrival in Ireland.  For further guidance, please visit the work permits section.  U.S. companies that require travel of Irish businesspersons to the United States should allow sufficient time for visa issuance if required. 

For information on visa application requirements and procedures for travel to the United States, please visit the U.S. Embassy Dublin website at https://ie.usembassy.gov/.

For information on Irish employment law visit: Irish Employment Law

The Department of State encourages U.S. citizens living overseas or planning to travel abroad to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).  Once enrolled, the U.S. Embassy/Consulate can keep the individual up to date with important safety and security announcements.  Enrolling will also make it easier for the Embassy to contact the individual in the event of an emergency.

U.S. Companies that require travel of foreign businesspersons to the United States should be advised that security evaluations are handled via an interagency process.  Visa applicants should visit the following links for information and to begin the application process:

State Department Visa Website: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel.html

U.S. Embassy Dublin Visa Unit: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas.html

Currency

Ireland is part of the Eurozone therefore the local currency is the euro.  All major credit cards including Visa, MasterCard/Eurocard are widely accepted; however American Express (AmEx) is not as readily received as in the U.S.  Vendors may require additional identification such as a passport.  Debit cards including Maestro, Visa Debit and MasterCard debit are accepted. 

Most Irish banks are affiliated to payment facilities networks such as ‘Plus,’ ‘Cirrus,’ and ‘Maestro’.  ATMs are commonplace in cities and towns both on street, in retail outlets and some gas stations and visitors should be aware that bank transaction fees apply.  Traveler’s checks are no longer generally accepted for purchases.  Visitors should inquire about the policy of the bank, hotel, or store before seeking to cash a personal check.  Irish banks may not accept $100 bills for currency exchange.

For currency or other numerical quantities, a comma is commonly used to mark off the thousands position and a decimal point (period) to denote decimal amounts — the same practice as followed in the United States; for example, €1,234,456.78. 

Telecommunications/Electronics

Through the ease of telecommunications, e-mails and international calls are frequently the best method of arranging appointments and maintaining solid commercial relations.  Virtual communication has been readily adopted by the business community to counteract travel restrictions since March 2020.  The time zone for Ireland is Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) or 5 hours ahead of the U.S. Eastern Standard Time (EST + 5 hours).  

 Cell phones are widely used in Ireland as there are approximately 5.6 million cell phone subscribers (equating to 116% market coverage).  Modern smartphones are capable of placing calls to the United States and other countries from Ireland. 

Ireland has a relatively sophisticated digital telecommunications system, which includes a direct dialing telephone service connecting every part of Ireland with over 90% of the rest of the world. 

A wide range of business services including point-to-multipoint data transmission, computer-to-computer file transfer networking, text messaging, fax, telex, video communications, Skype, Zoom, MS Teams, Cisco Webex etc., are available.  

U.S. calling cards such as AT&T and Sprint may be used locally for making international calls.  Phone cards for local and international calling are widely available in local shops and vending machines.

Internet access is also widely available through Internet cafes, Wi-Fi locations, and hotels.  Electricity in Ireland (220 volts, 50 cycles) is not compatible with U.S. voltage unless you have a converter or transformer.  You may also need an adapter as, like the UK, Ireland is standardized on the Type G (three-pin) plug and socket system.

Transportation

Ireland has four international airports (Dublin, Shannon, Cork, and Ireland West).  Pre-Covid, Aer Lingus, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, US Airways, and United Airlines operated scheduled air services between Ireland and the United States to 18 different destinations.  Irish travelers also utilize UK and other European hubs, which have numerous daily connections to the U.S.

While Ireland has more paved road on a per capita basis than any other country in the EU, it lacks a complete national efficient network of highways in some parts of the country.  Travel times take longer than expected at first glance, though the opening of “motorways” (expressways) from Dublin to major cities has greatly improved travel time on many routes.  Ninety-six percent of all inland passenger transport and over ninety percent of inland freight transport are conveyed by road.  The balance is carried by rail.  A 3,000-kilometer rail system provides passenger and freight services to most cities and main towns, including those in Northern Ireland.

Rental automobiles are available at numerous locations across Ireland.  Rates are usually more expensive than in the U.S. and other parts of Europe.  Better rental rates may be secured by booking reservations in the U.S. through one of the U.S. car rental agencies with fleets in Ireland. An international or state driving license is acceptable. 

A few notes of caution: rental cars offer a target for petty thieves in Ireland and visitors should take care not to leave belongings visible in cars parked at common tourist destinations.  Cars in Ireland are “right-hand drive,” traffic moves on and from the left-hand side of the road, like in the United Kingdom, and traffic circle “roundabouts” are frequent in most towns and cities.  Also, in relative terms, J-walking is a very common practice for pedestrians in Ireland.  Drivers should use caution; pedestrians, including children, and cyclists often cross against lights or in the middle of roads.  Pubs in Ireland, particularly in Dublin, stay open late and pedestrian traffic can be heavy throughout the night.  It may take the visitor some time to adjust to these differences.  Most auto accidents for visitors to Ireland happen shortly after departure from the rental car facilities.  As car navigation systems have become widely available, rental cars are a more viable means for business travel.  For specific information concerning Irish driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, please visit Tourism Ireland.

Taxis in Ireland are reasonably priced, but availability varies with time of day and where you are in the country.  Major taxi companies now operate via apps.  Intercity bus service is reliable and efficient due to “bus lanes” during high traffic periods.  The Leap Card system allows for electronic pre-paid travel service which covers trains, Dublin city buses and the Luas (Dublin tram service).

Ireland has a diverse range of accommodations—from world-class hotels to the more individualized and economical bed and breakfast (B&B) guesthouses.  Airbnb rentals are also widely available.  In view of the large number of visitors to Ireland, business travelers are advised to make their hotel reservations well in advance to assure the needed accommodations, especially during the summer months.

Ireland has a wide and excellent range of restaurants with an equally wide range of prices, catering to all wallets.  All the major international forms of cuisine are available in addition to local Irish recipes.  The food service sector is well regulated and standards of hygiene in food preparation are high.

Language

There are two official languages in Ireland – Irish and English.  While English is used predominantly, the Irish language, Gaelic, can be heard in the western and other parts of the country as indicated by signage marking Irish-speaking regions – An Gaeltacht.  English is used for business contracts and correspondence; however, some terms may have different meanings from those in the United States.  To assure complete understanding, it is important to define unfamiliar terms.  Reference to Incoterms, the international set of rules for commercial terms, helps to reduce possible misunderstandings.

Health

Medical services are very good at major hospitals and generally comparable with those in the United States.  Private clinics can be found in major cities.  Common medical needs are readily obtained, and special supplies are normally available on short notice.  An international certificate of vaccination is not required for travelers from the United States. Drinking water is good, most pharmaceuticals are available, and sanitation is up to American standards.

Local Time, Business Hours and Holidays

A 37.5-hour, 5-day workweek is the norm for offices and factories in Ireland.  Customary office working hours are from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., with lunch from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.  Banking hours are from 10:00 to 4:00 p.m.  Most retail stores are open from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and 12:00 p.m. (noon) to 6:00 p.m., Sundays and Public Holidays.  Many malls/outlets also have later hours on weekdays to accommodate evening shoppers.

The following is a listing of the official statutory public holidays in Ireland when most commercial offices are closed. Certain other days are celebrated as holidays within local jurisdictions.  If New Year’s Day, Saint Patrick’s Day, Christmas Day, or Saint Stephen’s Day fall on a weekend, the following Monday is a public holiday.

National Holidays 2021 -2022

October Bank Holiday: Monday, October 25, 2021

Christmas Day Observed: Friday, December 24, 2021

Saint Stephen’s Day Observed: Monday, December 27, 2021

New Year’s Day (Bank Holiday): Monday, January 3, 2022

Saint Patrick’s Day: Thursday, March 18, 2022

Good Friday: April 15, 2022

Easter Monday (Bank Holiday): April 18, 2022

Spring May Bank Holiday: Monday, May 2, 2022

June Bank Holiday: Monday, June 6, 2022

Summer Bank Holiday: Monday, August 1, 2022

October Bank Holiday: Monday, October 31, 2022

Christmas Day Observed: Monday, December 26, 2022

Saint Stephen’s Day Observed: Tuesday, December 27, 2022

During vacation seasons many Irish business executives may not be available except by appointment, especially in July and August.  Also, appointments may be difficult to schedule on Friday afternoons during the summer months, when extended weekends are often taken.  Most businesses are closed from December 24 through January 2 during the Christmas season.

Temporary Entry of Materials or Personal Belongings

Simplified procedures are available to traveling U.S. business and professional people for the temporary importation of commercial samples and professional equipment for display or demonstration though the use of a “carnet.”  A carnet is a customs document, obtained prior to departure, which facilitates customs clearance for temporary imports.  With the carnet, goods may be imported without the payment of duty, tax, or additional security.  A carnet is usually valid for one year from the date of issuance.  A bond or cash deposit of 40% of the value of the goods covered by the carnet is required.  This will be forfeited in the event the products are not re-exported and duties and taxes are not paid.  Carnets can be obtained from the U.S. Council for International Business.