Fast Facts On Ireland
Ireland is an English-speaking island on the northwestern edge of Europe. It is 300 miles long and 150 miles wide. The Republic of Ireland takes up three-quarters of the island and its capital city is Dublin. The remainder, Northern Ireland, is part of the U.K. and its capital is Belfast. Ireland is a constitutional democracy and a member of the European Union.
Ireland has a mild, temperate climate:
Republic of Ireland
In Northern Ireland, the currency is sterling.
Any credit cards that bear the Visa, MasterCard or American Express symbol will be widely accepted in Ireland. Visitors with other cards should ask in advance or check if that card is on display where they wish to use it.
Banking hours are generally 10.00am to 4.30pm Monday through Friday. Some banks are open on Saturday. ATM (cash) machines are located at most banks.
Most hotels and restaurants include service charge, though good service may merit an additional gratuity.Tipping in pubs is uncommon. In the case of taxis, a small tip is usually common (10%). Tips are always appreciated by porters, drivers and guides.
The Republic of Ireland has introduced a blanket ban on smoking in all places of work to protect public health and reduce the incidences of smoking-related illness.
Smoking is prohibited in public areas within the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland – this includes all bars, nightclubs and restaurants.
Although hotel bedrooms may be exempt from the ban, it is applied to all other areas within hotels.
Ireland is on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and, in accordance with daylight saving, clocks are put forward one hour mid-March and back one hour at the end of October.
Phone the US and Canada from Ireland by dialing 00 (international access code) 1 (US and Canada country code) the area code, and the number.
PASSPORTS & VISAS:
A passport with at least two months validity is a must for all US citizens traveling to Ireland. Although no Visa is required, immigration officials may ask for proof of your intention to return to the US – a return ticket is sufficient.More visa information is available from the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs web site http://www.dfa.ie/.
Customs operate green and red channels at most ports and airports. If you need to declare goods over the duty and tax-free allowances for non-EU visitors you must use the red channel. Pass through the green channel if you have nothing to declare.
VAT & TAX REFUNDS
A 17.5% value added sales tax is added to almost all merchandise and services in Ireland. This is in addition to the service charge. Visitors can reclaim V.A.T. on merchandise purchased for export through the Retail Export Scheme. Not all establishments operate this scheme and there is often a minimum purchase price. Furthermore, refunds only apply to goods being taken out of the country, not services. VAT and tax refunds are not available to EU visitors
To be able to claim a tax refund you must be a non-EU visitor to Ireland. Look for the ‘Tax-Free Shopping’ sign in the windows of participating stores. You must complete a valid tax refund document obtained from the retailer and present the tax refund document and goods to Customs on departure from the EU. A customs officer will check the goods and validate the tax refund document. You can receive your refund on the spot at some airports, otherwise you should mail the validated tax refund document back to the store and a refund will be issued.
VAT is charged on almost everything, but remember that refunds only apply to goods being taken out of the country, not services. VAT and tax refunds are not available to EU visitors.
In Ireland, driving takes place on the left side and passing on the right. Passports and drivers license are needed and seat belts are mandatory. Road signs are clear but look out for obstacles such as sheep and cattle on secondary roads. Drivers must yield to pedestrians at crossings which are marked by striped lines on the road and flashing orange lights.
220 volts AC (50hz) in Ireland.Although some hotels are specially wired to allow Americans to use appliances, a transformer is advised.
Dial 999 on any telephone for police, fire or ambulance.
In the Republic of Ireland the law enforcement entity is called Garda Siochana, with both male and female officers known as Garda. Northern Ireland’s police force is called the PSNI – Police Service of Northern Ireland.
The Irish flag is composed of the colours Green, White, & Orange. The green symbolizes The green represents a Gaelic traditional origin while the orange represents the Protestant supporters of William of Orange. The white in the centre signifies a lasting truce between the 2 side sides-the Orange & the Green.
Although the overwhelming majority of Irish people speak English, Irish (Gaelic) is the official language of the Republic. All official documents are issued in Irish and English, and bilingualism is officially encouraged. You will find all the road signs in the country are written both in the native language and English.
Some Irish words that you are sure to encounter are Fir (gentlemen), Mna (ladies), Gardai (police), Cead Mile Failte (one hundred thousand welcomes), agus (and), Go Raibh Mile Maith Agat (thank you).
The national holiday honors Ireland’s patron Saint, St. Patrick & thus he is celebrated on March 17th, St. Patrick’s Day.
The Irish National Health Plan does not cover U.S. or Canadian visitors. Ask your insurance agent before you travel if your health plan in valid in Ireland.
Ireland is a parliamentary democracy. The national parliament is called the Oireachtas, and consists of the President and two houses. The Dail [the House of Representatives] and the Seanad [the Senate]. The Dail is the primary of the two houses.The current Irish Government consists of a coalition of 3 political parties Fianna Fail, Progressive Democrats and the Green Party. The Head of the Government is the Taoiseach. Enda Kenny is the current Taoiseach. The current president of Ireland is Michael D. Higgins.
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