How likely is it that I would be denied entry to Ireland?
March 6, 2013 2:10 PM   Subscribe

I was told by the US Airways agent that since I only bought an oneway ticket for my euro trip, Ireland custom agents might deny my entry. How likely is this going to happen?

The message was conveyed in a bit of an ominous tone and I am now panicking a little. I can't imagine with Europe being such a popular backpacking destination that this is a common occurrence. What are my chances of bring denied entry? I have no criminal record and am carrying some travelers cheques with me... would that help my chances?
posted by jstarlee to Travel & Transportation (24 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
They're going to be worried that you don't plan to leave -- do you have anything to assuage them of those fears? Train tickets out of there, hotel reservations in another country, some commitment you can prove that you're going to elsewhere, something like that? Anything you can do to demonstrate that your stay is temporary is what they're going to care about.
posted by brainmouse at 2:13 PM on March 6, 2013 [2 favorites]

Do you have any kind of plan to leave the country? If you can show them evidence that you have a ferry ticket to England in two weeks, or a return ticket from Barcelona or whatever, that might decrease your chances of trouble.
posted by MadamM at 2:13 PM on March 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

I had a friend denied entry to the UK flying from Canada on a one-way ticket. He was detained at Heathrow until a flight could be found to put him back on. He's a middle class white guy with no criminal record, if you think it matters. He now is required to obtain a visa in advance every time he wants to fly to Europe, even though Canadians do not normally require visas to do so.

I warned him in advance that this was a possibility, so I'm warning you too. If the Irish customs agents have any concern that you have no plans (or ability) to leave Ireland after the time period for visits is up, they will not let you in.
posted by modernnomad at 2:17 PM on March 6, 2013 [5 favorites]

Do you have classes starting in the fall? Any proof at all that you're planning on leaving the EU again at some point?
posted by Oktober at 2:18 PM on March 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

You can buy an Open Return ticket. That should head off any issues. I'm surpised it wasn't offered to you.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:25 PM on March 6, 2013 [2 favorites]

You will be asked to provide proof that you're going to leave and not work, yes. Flying to another country on a one-way ticket is a terrible idea (why would anyone pay 2-4X round trip for two one-way tickets? One-way is basically a neon sign saying you're not planning to leave, and not very good at being sneaky.), even more so if they have welfare and healthcare there.

Showing something saying you have to be home is more helpful than nothing, but really you'll need to prove that you have to leave and you have the money to support yourself AND leave before they have any interest in letting you in.

I have been quizzed on my intentions and shown my return ticket every time I have entered the EU in the past 20 years.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:27 PM on March 6, 2013 [2 favorites]

Your Mileage May Vary

A clear plan to leave and evidence that you have sufficient resources to cover your stay would likely help. So if you're going to take a train or ferry out, you should know the schedule and when and where you plan to take it. If you're going to, say, the UK next, you should know where you're going to stay (a reservation would help) and how you'll get there.

Being able to show strong ties to your home might help too. Do you own property? Are you expected back at a job? Enrolled in school starting at a certain date? Need to take care of someone back home? Or do you look like you're carrying all your worldly possessions and have no particular reason to ever need to return home?

If you're particularly worried about this, why not book a train/ferry ticket out of Ireland for about when you think you'll leave? If you look up the change policies before you book, it might be possible to change the dates with minimal penalty if your plans change.
posted by zachlipton at 2:27 PM on March 6, 2013

Simple :

Make a one way flight reservation from Ireland back to home. Print it out and bring it with you. You'll be fine.

(you can easily cancel the ticket with United or Delta given their 24 hour free cancellation policy - they refund immediately and directly from their website)
posted by Kruger5 at 2:29 PM on March 6, 2013 [4 favorites]

I traveled to London two years ago with a return flight but no evidence of my return flight, no job, and a boyfriend who at the time was living temporarily in London. The border agent thought I was going to stay, and actually gave me a LOT of shit about it.

She asked really prying questions like about how much money I had in my bank account, if my parents ever gave me money, how long I had known my boyfriend, etc, and was incredulous that his company had purchased my plane ticket for me. She didn't let me make any phone calls, she didn't let me contact the airline to have them say, "yeah, she's got a return flight, you numbskull," and she wouldn't let me leave the line.

We went back and forth about a bunch of bullshit, I was getting panicky (I showed her everything from my prescriptions that needed refills and were based with Chicago doctors, library books that were due back to the Chicago Public Library in a month, told her my entire family lived in the US and that I loved America and didn't WANT to live anywhere else).

Then that (awful, mean, outforblood) lady had the gall to say "everyone who comes here says they love America, but they don't, they actually want to stay here," so I reached into my bag and whipped out my copy of the Constitution that I carry everywhere with me, and was all OH YEAH, LADY, DOES EVERYONE WHO SAYS THEY LOVE AMERICA CARRY THE CONSTITUTION WITH THEM NO DIDN'T THINK SO. And she rolled her eyes, stamped my passport, and let me in.

And then I promptly went around the corner, plopped down on the floor, and cried.

Aaaanyway, the next time I went to London, just a few months later, I printed out absolutely everything I had that could document how settled in America I was, including return flight information, and went through the immigration line preparing to get hassled again. The border agent I had that day barely even looked at me, asked me how long I was staying, and stamped my passport and sent me on before I even had a chance to hand her the rest of my documents.

So yes, your mileage may vary quite a bit. Prepare for the worst.
posted by phunniemee at 2:40 PM on March 6, 2013 [28 favorites]

Just buy a ticket out of the country - check Ryanair.
posted by travelwithcats at 2:50 PM on March 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

I travel a lot and find that border services agents are prickly and unnecessarily surly at the best of times; that said, I went from Canada to the US a week and a half ago and no one even asked to see a return ticket.

Still, the annoyance factor of being turned away at the border is staggering, especially if you are just arrived by plane. I would say yes, absolutely be prepared to show a piece of paper which has your name and the date and means of conveyance to take you out of the country. Cancel that later if need be, but have it handy.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:51 PM on March 6, 2013

I'm presuming that you are an American citizen or permanent resident. Unless you have a Schengen visa, you can stay in Schengen countries at most 90 days as a tourist. Border officials are supposed to enforce EU residency requirements, not just Irish ones, so it won't necessarily help to buy a ticket from Ireland to another EU country. Traveling to the UK would be OK, as it's not in Schengen, and you can stay there up to 6 months as a tourist. However, they might well want proof that you're leaving the UK, and UK border agents might want to be sure that you're aware of Schengen requirements.

You need to have a clear plan to leave Europe by the time your 90 days are up, or apply for a short-term Schengen visa (for 90 days to 6 months) at the Irish consulate (since Ireland will be your first point of entry into the Schengen zone). Time spent in non-Schengen countries doesn't count, but it doesn't reset the Schengen limit. For instance, if you spent 30 days in Ireland, then 2 months in the UK, you have 60 more days in Schengen countries, not 90.

I am not a lawyer or an immigration expert, but I think what would be most important to a border official is not so much your plans to leave Ireland but your plans to return to the US. Here's what I would do in your shoes:

1. Figure out when I want to head home, approximately where I would be at that time, and buy a ticket home (e.g., I think I want to wind up in Hungary, so I'll buy a ticket home from Budapest). Make sure that the ticket has a not unreasonable fee for making changes, and if you're really unsure, make sure you can change the departure city as well as the date. Many one-way tickets are full price and allow unrestricted changes or refunds.

2. Bring traveler's checks and a couple recent bank statements, or a notarized statement of support if you're getting money from a parent/relative/friend/sugar daddy/etc., to prove that you have the resources to support yourself during your stay.

3. Have a reasonably clear plan of where you plan to go, and in what order, and make sure you obey time limits, such as the 90 days total in the Schengen zone. Don't worry about nailing down every last detail. What's important is to convince the border official that you will get from Dublin to Budapest (or wherever) on your own dime, and that you're aware of and will respect limits on how much time tourists can spend in Schengen and non-Schengen countries on your itinerary. If you can do that, they won't care whether you're going to take the Dublin-Holywell ferry or fly Ryanair from Shannon to Dusseldorf in between.
posted by brianogilvie at 3:04 PM on March 6, 2013 [5 favorites]

By the way, in the future, you can avoid much of the hassle by buying an open-jaw ticket, which allows you to arrive in one place and leave from another. In the summer of '99, I bought an open-jaw departing from Boston, arriving in Paris, and then departing 10 weeks later from Warsaw for the return to Boston. It wasn't much more expensive than a regular round-trip from Boston to Warsaw.
posted by brianogilvie at 3:08 PM on March 6, 2013

OK, I'm an idiot. I had thought that Ireland was in the Schengen zone, but it's not. I still think the Irish border official will want to know when and how you're returning to the US, and in any case, officials in the first Schengen country you enter will want to know that.
posted by brianogilvie at 3:12 PM on March 6, 2013 [2 favorites]

I (Canadian) was turned back at a border (USA) once over this sort of ill-considered ticket purchase. Having had much hassle crossing a week later and many conversations with the embassy about how to minimise that hassle, hoping it is applicable here-- +1 on advice to bring things that show your ties to your home. Paperwork for your house or apartment. Something documenting your employment or schooling. Really anything you can think of that makes clear you have a reason to return.

It can mess up your ability to travel for years to get turned back; not surprised the warning was 'dire.' So sorry.

(I am a tidy-looking white person with no criminal record and I had $ -- actually, IIRC they were suspicious because I had too much $ with me. No idea how they differentiate between 'funds to travel with' and 'funds to re-locate with' but 'See, I've €X' might go either way)
posted by kmennie at 3:29 PM on March 6, 2013

I had to fly to Ireland on a one-way ticket during the volcano fiasco, since my original flight had been cancelled and plane + plane + ferry + 3 trains was the only way to get back to my university. The border agent wasn't tremendously pleased that I was only using Ireland as a way station and I think she actually wrote down 24 hours or something next to the visa stamp-- there was definitely some indication that it was a short trip. But nothing more scary than that. Definitely carry paperwork with you-- leases, phone bills, course registration, hotel reservations in other countries along the way.

As a side note, travelers cheques are not necessarily the easiest things to use in Europe-- is there a specific reason you're using them?
posted by jetlagaddict at 3:34 PM on March 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

It's pretty likely unless you can prove that you have enough money to get home. Personal experience. I'm still suprised they let me in.
posted by elsietheeel at 3:49 PM on March 6, 2013

Is your plan still to try to spend 4 months in Europe without any sort of visa beside your US passport?
posted by humboldt32 at 5:11 PM on March 6, 2013 [2 favorites]

Is your plan still to try to spend 4 months in Europe without any sort of visa beside your US passport?

I'm definitely not saying this as someone who's done it, but the issue is that the OP would be limited to 90 days in the Schengen Zone (it's 90 days/six months). Neither the UK nor Ireland is in the Schengen Zone. One would need to keep careful count, but AFAIK, there's not anything obviously wrong with what the OP is proposing. (I have no idea whether it'd be advisable to do your 90 (or 89) days consecutively or not.) I suspect having a ticket out of the Schengen Zone and proof you're 'settled' in the US would be helpful if one were proposing to near 90 days.

brianogilvie details the Schengen visa issue quite thoroughly (and caught the mistake where they assumed Ireland was in the Schengen Zone) above.
posted by hoyland at 6:23 PM on March 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

It really depends on who you get; I've seen them really hassle people in Dublin airport and also just wave people through with just a glance. There's no way to know in advance, unfortunately. You might buy a ferry ticket to the UK or something to prove you're leaving - that would probably be enough.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 7:41 PM on March 6, 2013

I've bought one-way tickets like this before (US to Europe), with the same dire warnings - but then nearly got turned back at check-in (back when humans checked you in) because (I was told) the airline will get fined several thousand dollars if you get turned back at immigration (for things they could have prevented, I suppose...). They were extremely reluctant to let us check in, asked all sorts of questions that seemed ridiculous, intrusive, and unreasonable to my young/naive/entitled mind, wanted to see the proof that we could support ourselves while we were travelling, had a plan (we didn't), etc., and in one case that wasn't good enough and we had to go buy an onward ticket to somewhere else before they would let us check in. (And I have a vague memory that that was the flying-into-Dublin-from-London portion of a trip.)

Other times, I haven't had problems (to the extent of travelling on an expired passport once) (not intentionally), and I might possibly once (out of dozens of times), have been asked to show proof that my ticket was a return ticket, but I tend not to be able to sleep on planes so I was exhausted and not at my most tactful and possibly reponded with confusion, incredulity, and some foul morning breath - why the fuck would I have a piece of paper? It's an e-ticket. I have not yet checked in for my return flight in ten days. That's not even possible. I might have fumbled for my phone so I could show them the email containing the e-ticket, but was shushed and stamped and moved along.

Even if you have a return ticket, they can turn you away if they want to, so it is really a good idea to have a return ticket or an onward ticket or an itinerary, and on the other side of things, a business card to indicate you have a job, a letter from a supervisor saying when they expect you back at work, a copy of a lease - something to indicate that you have obligations you must return to... I think you said in an earlier question that you would get insurance for the trip? A copy of that sort of thing might have dates and demonstrate your intentions to be backpacking for a finite period of time. Emails from people you've arranged to couch surf with that say when they expect you (in a different country), even might be useful.

I haven't done a proper search, and this is old, but this question might have some useful info also. Google 'proof of onward travel' and see how some other people have solved the problem.

It's a pain and you might never need any of this, but far better to be safe than sorry, especially when you've put so much time and effort (and money) into planning. Have fun on your trip - it sounds awesome!
posted by you must supply a verb at 3:39 AM on March 7, 2013

Sorry - just to add - it's not just about how likely it is that this will happen, it's about what the consequences are if it does. Even if there's only a 10 percent chance of it happening, the level of screwed you will be if it does is enough to justify spending €35 for an onward ticket to Paris or whatever, even if you don't use it.
posted by you must supply a verb at 3:56 AM on March 7, 2013

Get a ticket from Athens or Bucharest to Turkey, or from Spain to Morocco.
posted by mdonley at 9:27 AM on March 7, 2013

As the person who, five months ago, pointed out the Schengen visa regulations to the OP and warned about travelling in on a one-way ticket... yeah, all that still applies.

I once flew into a tiny regional airport in the UK with my American wife: she went to the non-EU queue; I sailed through the EU bit. And then I waited. And waited. And was eventually called back to verify our collective itinerary. (I now know that couples should go through passport control together, even if they have EU/non-EU passports.) If you continue to believe that this is not a common occurrence, you may finally be disabused of this at passport control on arrival, or not even be allowed to board.

So: get an onward ticket. Ferry booking to the UK, Ryanair to somewhere. Fully refundable ticket back to the US if you have the creditworthiness to put that charge on plastic, or at least one with a reasonable change fee. And some kind of itinerary, and very clear proof that you have ready access to funds to support yourself.

It's not the fun bit of backpacking, but it's the thing that makes the fun bit possible.
posted by holgate at 9:53 PM on March 8, 2013

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