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  • Minister McEntee announces measures to strengthen obligations on carriers to ensure people travelling to Ireland have the appropriate documentation
  • Fines on carriers will increase from €3000 to €5000 per passenger in contravention of travel documentation rules

The Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee T.D. has today informed Government of her intention to reform the carrier liability provisions of the Immigration Act, 2003, increasing the fines on carriers if they do not comply with their obligations to ensure passengers have appropriate travel documentation.

These proposals have been made following a review initiated by the Minister to assess the appropriateness of the existing carrier liability provisions.

The Minister will increase the fines on carriers from the current maximum of €3,000 to €5,000 if they are found to not have upheld their obligations in ensuring passengers have appropriate documentation. The Minister intends to bring forward legislation to increase the penalties in the coming weeks as part of a forthcoming Miscellaneous Provisions Bill, which is planned for enactment by the Summer recess.

The Minister has also outlined her intention to bring forward further measures, including guidelines to assist carriers and consideration of the feasibility of a dynamic fines model which recognises carriers who strongly enforce documentation requirements, at a later date.

Speaking today, Minister McEntee said:

“The legislation which provides the obligations for carriers and the level of fines have been unchanged since 2003.  After 21 years in operation, I initiated a review to assess whether it remains appropriate and effective in 2024.

The review has recommended an increase in the level of penalties, and to provide additional supports to carriers to help them ensure that passengers have the correct documentation.

This is just one element of the reforms I am introducing to deter irregular migration and maintain the integrity of our immigration system.”

Minister McEntee has taken a number of actions to reduce the number of people arriving without documents and strengthen the immigration system as a whole.

These measures include introducing visa requirements to travel to Ireland form a number of additional states and the expedition of International Protection application processing. 

Minister McEntee has also provided specific funding for the Garda Airport Liaison Officer programme, and increased resources for the Border Management Unit (BMU) and the International Protection Office.

BMU and GNIB carry out doorstop operations at airplanes to target those who destroyed documents inflight. These are intelligence led operations based on trends observed by immigration officials, who will conduct initial document checks as passengers disembark an aircraft in order to establish a person’s identity and nationality. Over 2,250 doorstep operations have been completed to end April 2024. In addition, An Garda Síochána has prosecuted nearly 100 people in 2024 for arriving without appropriate documentation and a significant number have been imprisoned.

On this point, Minister McEntee continued:

“My Department has been working closely with airlines, providing training and support, to ensure people have the proper documentation at the point of embarkation , and thereby reduce the number of people presenting at a port of entry without valid documentation.

“This continued co-operation is key to upholding the integrity of our immigration system.”

Notes:

  • Carrier liability is provided for in section 2(1) of the Immigration Act 2003 which places obligations on carriers to ensure that passengers travelling to the State are in possession of a valid travel document that establishes the person’s identity and nationality, and that they have the appropriate visa if required.  
  • A carrier that contravenes this provision is guilty of an offence, and where a contravention by the carrier relates to more than one passenger, each case constitutes a separate offence.
  • The Immigration Act 2003 provides for a fine of €3,000 for carriers in respect of each offence under the Act.  The Minister proposes to increase this fine to €5,000. 
  • The Act provides that carriers which make a payment of €1,500 within 28 days will avoid prosecution for an offence under the Act. The Minister proposes to increase the payment in lieu of a fine to €2,500.
  • Carrier liability may apply in the case of a passenger who has arrived into the State:
    • Without the required Irish visa
    • Without a passport or equivalent document
    • With a false passport or equivalent document
    • Is an imposter using a genuine document

 

Annual carrier liability receipts

YearAmount
2019€1,003,470
2020€624,000
2021€826,500
2022€1,102,500
2023€1,476,000
Total€5,032,470