Customs and borders
From customs and border regulations on the island of Ireland to duty-free allowances and how to claim VAT refunds - here's what you need to know
Customs operate blue, green and red channels at most ports and airports on the island of Ireland.
Travelling from the EU
If you’re visiting from the United Kingdom or another EU country, use the blue channel after you reclaim your baggage. Customs officers monitor this area and may operate checks. If you have something to declare to Customs, you should go to the red point.
Travelling from outside the EU
If you're arriving in Ireland from outside the EU, you'll need to clear customs. Use the green channel if you have nothing to declare. This means that you are not carrying more than the entitled allowances.
Use the red channel if you need to declare goods above the duty and tax-free allowance. If in doubt, always use the red channel!
5 top tips
Restricted or prohibited goods
You can import animal products from EU countries onto the island of Ireland, as long as the goods are produced in accordance with EU rules and are for your own consumption. This generally includes goods that are on sale to the public in an EU member state, and that bear the EU health mark and correct packaging.
Importing meat and milk products from almost all non-EU countries is prohibited, although you can bring limited quantities of certain animal products onto the island, for your own consumption under certain restrictions.
Goods obtained within the EU
You don’t have to pay duty on goods you bring into Ireland if you bought them in another EU country. However, if you exceed certain quantities, you may be asked by customs officials to show that the goods are for your personal use only.
Goods obtained outside the EU
You are entitled to a duty-free allowance if you arrive in Ireland directly from a non-EU country or the Canary Islands. This allowance means you can bring in goods (including gifts, souvenirs, perfume and clothing) free of duty, providing the combined value is not more than:
- €430/£312 in the case of an individual aged 15 years or over (approximately 466 US dollars*)
- €215/£157 in the case of an individual aged under 15 years (approximately 233 US dollars*)
*Subject to currency fluctuations
These allowances don’t apply to any individual item worth more that these values. So, if you bring in something worth more than €430/£312 or €215/£157, you must pay import charges on the full value.
Remember: if you bring back any duty-free goods you bought when you travelled out from Ireland, these count as part of your allowance.
In addition to your duty-free allowance for general goods, you have allowances for alcohol and tobacco products
- 200 cigarettes
- 100 cigarillos
- 50 cigars
- 250g smoking tobacco.
- 1 litre of spirits (whiskey, gin, vodka, and so on)
- 2 litres of other alcoholic drinks with no more than 22% alcohol (for example, port, sherry, sparkling wine and some liqueurs).
Wine and beer
- 4 litres of wine (still)
- 16 litres of beer.
Customs duty, excise duty and value-added tax (VAT), where applicable, are charged on goods in excess of the duty-free allowances.
Republic of Ireland
Under the Retail Export Scheme, if you live outside of the EU, you can claim back a portion of the VAT on purchases made during your stay in the Republic of Ireland. Most retailers participate in this VAT refund scheme and you can ask for a VAT refund form in the store once you've made your purchases.
How to claim your refund
There are three refund points in Dublin where you can reclaim your tax. You can also find refund points in Dublin and Shannon airports.
Make sure you fill in the form correctly and include a credit card number to facilitate the refund. The goods you bought must be exported outside of the EU within three months following the month of purchase and it will take between four to six weeks to receive your refund from the refund agent.
If the purchase value of any one item on your VAT refund form is €2,000 or above, you will need to present your form, goods receipt and the item to a customs official at your point of exit for a validation stamp.
For more information on tax-free shopping, check out the two main refund agents in Ireland, Tax Free Worldwide and Fexco.
You can also claim tax back on goods bought in Northern Ireland. Slightly different rules apply depending on whether you travel directly from Northern Ireland to Great Britain, or indirectly through an EU member state, such as Ireland. Find out more.