Northern Ireland Travel Advice
Security travel advice for the Northern Ireland
How safe is Northern Ireland?
Threat level: Medium
COVID-19 Situation Update in Northern Ireland
Due to the sanitary situation in Northern Ireland, the country in in lockdown and as such, citizens must stay at home and only go out for a reasonable reason including to purchase goods or services from businesses that are allowed to open, to seek medical advice, to travel to and from work where absolutely necessary, or to exercise alone or with another person in the vicinity of your residence. People are permitted to form a bubble with one other household providing that private gatherings in your bubble don't exceed 10 people (children included). Indoor gatherings are limited to six people and outdoor gatherings are limited to 10 people. Further to this, schools (except for the children of key workers) and public venues are shut including entertainment venues and hospitality venues (except for takeaway, drive-through or delivery). However, outdoor parks, play areas and outdoor areas of properties are open. The use of face coverings is mandatory on public transport and inside public facilities (supermarkets, shops and shopping centres), and people must maintain social distancing by being at least 2 metres apart. When travelling to Northern Ireland, overseas travellers must present a negative PCR test result on arrival, taken no more than 3 days before arrival. They must also complete the UK passenger locator form and self-isolate for 10 days. For more information, please refer to our healthcare section.
Security in Northern Ireland
The current travel advice for Northern Ireland is to remain vigilant, there is a general low crime rate in Northern Ireland with most stays that are trouble-free. However, there are areas prone to demonstrations, especially during times where political or religious tensions may be prominent in the region of both Northern and The Republic of Ireland.
Please note that the UK government has rated the current threat level for Northern Ireland-related terrorism in Northern Ireland is "Substantial to Moderate" (as of March 2018), although there has been little in the way or major terrorist activity in recent years. It is advised to monitor local news of any planned marches or parades. These are common place in some areas of Northern Ireland.
There are key dates during the year where security threats from demonstrations or civil disturbances may be more likely. 12th July is the main event for the orange order - a protestant organisation. A march takes place in memory of the battle of Boyne. In the past, there have been known incidents of violence and rioting with the police and other rival groups at prominent locations where Catholics and Protestants meet.
There is a heightened risk of civil disturbance over from April through to August. The last Saturday in August known as “Black Saturday", which is the end of the marching season, and is a date in which civil unrest can break out without warning and have violent incidents between groups and the police. As with all demonstrations and large public gatherings that have the likelihood of turning violent, it is adviced to avoid them and make your way to a safe area. In recent years, much has been done by the police to prevent disturbances and provide a safe barrier.
Since the start of 2019, there has been a rise in terrorist activity in Northern Ireland with a number of exlosive drvices being discovered. It is understood that the "New IRA" are currently targeting police officers within Northern Ireland.
On the 18th of April 2019, the Journalist Lyra McKee was fatally shot during rioting in the Creggan area of Derry. The New IRA, admitted responsibility. Four arrests connected to the shooting were made but it is understood that no arrest for the shooting has yet been made.
On the 19th of January 2019, a car bomb exploded outside a courthouse in Derry/Londonderry in Bishop street. No casualties were reported and the Police suspects the New IRA to be behind the attack.
In January 2017, a policeman was wounded in a gas station at Belfast by what was thought to be individuals with involvement in the Irish republican movement. A few weeks later, a man and woman were shot in Northern Ireland while attempting to protect their son from paramilitaries also in Belfast.
Northern Ireland safety has greatly improved in recent years, it has a rich political and cultural history with many tourist locations to visit. It has a significantly lower crime rate in Belfast as compared to any other city in the United Kingdom. As with all tourist locations, be aware of street crime, pickpockets and car theft. However, if you carry out normal safety precautions your stay should be trouble-free.
The “troubles” which occurred between 1968 and 1998, fuelled by territorial tensions, does give Northern Ireland a violent reputation. This dispute has affected many generations deeply, but also affected Ireland, England and as far as Gibraltar.
During “the troubles”, there were over 3,600 fatalities and 50,000 injured. Unionist or more extreme Loyalists supporting Northern Irelands continued union with Great Britain, and Nationalists or more extreme Republicans wanting a united country with the Republic of Ireland have disagreed over the status of Northern Ireland. The Good Friday agreement was brought into effect, and a peace process which would de-escalate the violence of the past 30 years was put into place. This has seen an end to most of the issues, including the bombings and the shootings which took place, however there are still active groups which debate Northern Ireland's future and have been known to use violence as a means to carry their message. As such, this does make the risk of small targeted terrorist attacks more likely than some other European countries, however it is unlikely and a majority of visits are trouble-free.
There are still underlying tensions and localised incidents. The people of Northern Ireland are warm and friendly to their visitors, the best travel advice for Northern Ireland is to be respectful of the country’s past and avoid political discussions and do not wear insignia or clothing of which would align your allegiance to any political or religious denomination.
There are some levels of segregation within the towns and villages in which the majority of the town’s area are either Protestant or Catholic, however this should not impact any tourists stay to the area.
Northern Ireland's International Relations
Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom (UK), although it has had much of its own political history, further information regarding international ties and developments are linked to the UK. Please see the United Kingdom page for further information.
Travelling around Northern Ireland
Please be advised that some roads near the border can transverse over the Southern Ireland and Northern Ireland borders. The road signs and speed limits in the Republic are in km/h, whilst road signs in the North are all mph. There is freedom of movement between the two countries with no fixed border checkpoints, however the Irish police (An Garda Siochána) have been known to check passports at the border occasionally. Please make sure you have appropriate photo identification and/or passport with you.
Weather can be unpredictable in Northern Ireland, especially near to the coastal and higher areas. Be prepared when travelling for wind and rain, which can make some roads more dangerous.
There are many narrow, twisty roads, especially near to the countryside and coastline, so be mindful and drive with caution. There are known areas which have a higher rate of accidents in Northern Ireland, which are the circuit of main roads around Coleraine, Portstewart and Portrush.
Commercial Travel Risk Services
Intelligent Protection International Limited provides companies and organisations with Commercial Travel Risk Services designed to mitigate risks of staff when they travel for business. If you are interested in these services, please see: Commercial Travel Risk Services.
Emergency services in Northern Ireland
Police emergency: 999
Fire emergency: 999
Medical emergency: 999
Northern Ireland Overview
Religion: Christianity (Protestant & Roman Catholicism)
Currency: Pound Sterling
Time now in Belfast:
Consular information for Northern Ireland
U.S. Embassy Belfast
223 Stranmillis Road
Belfast, BT9 5GR
Telephone: +44 28 9038 6100
Visa requirements for Northern Ireland
Only British Nationals, European Union citizens, members of the EEA (Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland), Switzerland, and members of the overseas countries and territories do not require a visa to enter Northern Ireland. The Commonwealth or the United States of America do not require a visa for entry to Northern Ireland. If you are not applicable to the aforementioned, please check with your local embassy for visa instructions.
Healthcare and Immunisations
It is advised that all visitors to Northern Ireland are up to date with all routine inoculations such as Tetanus, however there are no specifically recommended vaccinations required.
Due to the coronavirus outbreak that is affecting the country, it is recommended to apply good hygiene practices, maintain social distancing, and avoid contact with people showing flue-like symptoms. Both elderly people over the age of 70 and people with underlying health issues are recommended to stay at home for an extended period. If you are coughing and have fever, it is required to quarantine yourself for 14 days and only call emergency services if you have severe respiratory issues.
Water and sanitary conditions in Northern Ireland are to a good standard. Hospitals are of a good quality.