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The British-Irish Visa Scheme Now available for Chinese Visitors

The British Ambassador to China, Sir Sebastian Wood, together the Irish Ambassador, Paul Kavanagh, have announced a joint visa initiative between Ireland and the United Kingdom to assist Chinese visitors.

Applicants in China are now open to apply for this visa, which will allow them free movement between the two countries. The Chinese visitors must still acquire a visa from the country they will be visiting first – so either a valid Irish short stay visa or a UK visitor visa – but they will no longer need to apply for both to move between countries during their stay.

It is therefore hoped that the new initiative will encourage visitors to either the UK or Ireland to take trips between the two countries. For example, visitors to Ireland can now easily take a day trip to Northern Ireland, or even take a spontaneous flight to London or Edinburgh. It is well known that high-spending Chinese tourists impact on the economy considerably: in 2012, which was the record year so far, 179,000 visited the UK, spending a total of £300m.

Furthermore, the scheme will now mean the Irish biometric visa will be recognised by the UK as a valid exemption document during transport. The major benefit of this change will allow visitors flying to Ireland via a UK airport to do so without obtaining a transit visa. Visitors must however be travelling onto Ireland within 24 hours of arriving in the UK to qualify.

Commenting on the new visa scheme, Sir Sebastian Wood said: “I’m delighted to launch this new single visa product to enable visitors from China to come to the UK and Ireland. It has never been easier to apply for a UK visa and latest figures show that 96% of applicants receive one. I hope this new service will encourage even more people to visit the UK and Ireland, and experience our world-class attractions, vibrant culture, and warm welcome”.

Irish Ambassador Paul Kavanagh said: “Following on from the joint announcement of the Irish and British Governments, I am delighted to welcome the launch of this scheme, which will make it easier for Chinese visitors to travel to Ireland and the United Kingdom. I am particularly pleased that China is the first country in which this scheme has rolled out. I am grateful to the Chinese authorities for all of their cooperation and support in this regard”.

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