Written answers

Thursday, 16 December 2021

Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport

Travel Documents

Photo of Duncan SmithDuncan Smith (Dublin Fingal, Labour)
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31. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the position regarding the operation of checking Covid-19 travel documentation at ports and airports here; the issues that have been identified in the roll-out of this process; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [62297/21]

Photo of Hildegarde NaughtonHildegarde Naughton (Galway West, Fine Gael)
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Public health measures in relation to international travel are decided by Government, guided by the recommendations of our public health authorities. My Department assists with the implementation of these measures. In this regard, there has been a suite of measures, protocols, and requirements put in place regarding international travel, which have developed and evolved as the pandemic has progressed.

The Minister for Health recently made regulations that required that from the 5th of December, all passengers travelling to Ireland, with very limited exemptions, must show proof of a negative test for COVID-19. Passengers who do not have proof of vaccination or recovery are required to show a negative ('not detected') RT-PCR test which was carried out no more than 72 hours before arrival in Ireland. Passengers who have proof of vaccination or recovery from COVID-19 can show a negative ('not detected') antigen test which was carried out no more than 48 hours before arrival.

There are obligations on carriers to ensure that all travellers are in possession of an electronic Passenger Locator Form (ePLF) receipt and, unless exempted, a negative result from a RT-PCR test administered within 72hrs of arrival or a negative antigen test result from a test administered within 48hrs of arrival.

Where exemptions are not declared, carriers will be required to deny boarding to passengers that do not provide evidence of completion of the ePLF or who do not have evidence of the required negative/not detected Covid-19 test result.

The exemptions from the requirement to have an additional test result continues to apply to those previously exempt from declaring their health status, including those aged 11 and under, transport workers in possession of a valid Annex 3 certificate and air and maritime crew. These exemptions are declared on the ePLF.

From the start of the pandemic maritime and air carriers have cooperated with Government's international travel measures. Carriers have reported denying boarding to significant numbers of passengers for non-compliance with the various regulations. In situations where doubt has arisen, carriers have contacted the Department for clarification in a timely manner.

It has been the strong advice of the European Commission that relevant checks are carried out at points of departure, rather than at points of arrival. This is in order to avoid unnecessary double checking of documentation, and to avoid lengthy queues and passenger congestion at ports of entry to the State.

To support the public health efforts, the Border Management Unit (BMU) at Dublin Airport, and An Garda Síochána at the other ports of entry to the State, conduct spot checks of health documentation.

Over the last two weeks, the BMU has significantly increased the level of spot checks of all arriving passengers to Dublin Airport, with up to 100% of passengers from certain flights checked.

Where a passenger presents without the correct health documentation they are referred to the Garda National Immigration Bureau for further action.


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