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General Info about Dublin, Ireland

Visa Requirements
Natives of the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and EU countries do not require a visa to enter Ireland if they are planning to stay for less than 90 days. Those planning to stay longer than this period need to seek permission from the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform within the first 90 days of their arrival. If a member of your immediate family is an Irish citizen, an extension of your 90-day limit is usually automatic, although a formal application should still be submitted.

Citizens of EU countries coming to Ireland to work don’t need a working visa to be permitted to begin employment. Members of other nations should contact their local Irish Embassy for information on acquiring a working visa.

Currency
The currency used in Ireland is the Euro which is made up of 100 cents. Notes come in denominations of €100, €50, €20, €10 and €5 and the coins in use are €2, €1, 0.50C, 0.20C, 0.10C, 0.05C, 0.02C and 0.01C.

Language
According to the State, the first official language in Ireland is Gaelic, known colloquially as Irish. Despite this, English is the dominant language spoken in the capital.

Climate
It’s extremely difficult to generalise when talking about the Irish weather – even the professional forecasters don’t get it right most of the time! The one thing that can be said without any doubt is that the country has the most changeable climate you are ever likely to encounter. Sunny one second, torrential rain the next or blizzard like weather in one area; you never know what to expect.

But, because this is a general overview, here goes: The coldest months are January and February which bring widespread frost throughout the country as well as snow on occasion. Snow is not that common in Ireland, however, but when it does arrive, the country literally comes to a standstill. The warmest months are July and August but they are by no means hot. Average temperatures usually range between 16 and 20 degrees although recent summers have scored well into the 20s.

Medical Care
Visitors from EU countries are entitled to medical treatment under the EU Reciprocal Medical Treatment agreement. To take advantage of this, you'll need to get a European Health Insurance Card. Check that the doctor or dentist that you use is registered with the Irish Health Board and inform him or her that you want to be treated under the EU’s social security arrangements. In the event of an emergency, visitors may telephone, or go directly to the casualty department of the major hospitals.

Time Zone
Greenwich Mean Time.

Opening Hours
Shops generally open from 9.00am-6.00pm, Monday-Saturday with late opening on Thursdays until 8.00pm. In the city centre many of the stores on Henry Street, Grafton Street and the shopping centres are also open on Sundays.

Office hours are between 9.00am and 5.00/5.30pm, usually closing for a one-hour lunch at some stage between 12.00pm and 2.00pm.

Tourist Offices
Dublin’s main tourist office is located on Suffolk Street in the city centre. Previously a church, this building only two minutes from Grafton Street can’t be missed. Any information pertaining to any part of the country to which you wish to travel should be found here.

Tax
In Ireland the value added tax (VAT) ranges from 0% on food to 17% in restaurants to 21% on certain goods including clothing and electrical equipment. For non-EU residents, however, the good news is that you can get the tax back on any item for which you pay over €250. This is only applicable in shops which display the ‘Cashback’ sticker so if you don’t see one it is worth asking. In order to avail of this incentive, you need to obtain a Europe Tax-Free Shopping Cheque when you purchase the item. When you are leaving the country, you present both the item and the cheque at customs. The officials will stamp it for you and you can then cash your cheque at any of the booths with the Tax-Free logo and Cash Refund sign. In some cases you may receive your refund by post and this can take anything between six and eight weeks to come through. All refunds are only applicable to items bought in the country within three months of purchase.

Currency Exchange
The best place to change any foreign cash or travellers cheques is in the banks. They open between 10.00am and 4.00pm from Monday to Friday, and until 5pm on Thursdays.

If you are heading to a rural area it is a good idea to change cash in the city centre before you go. The other alternative location in which to change cash or traveller’s cheques is in some of the bigger tourist offices.

All major credit cards are widely accepted and if you have the PIN number they can also be used to obtain cash advances from ATMs or banks. You can also use regular bankcards that are members of the bigger international networks including Cirrus, Plus and Link in machines bearing the relevant symbol.

Electricity
Electrical Current is standard 220v AC/50Hz with 3-pin plugs.

Telephones
The country code for Ireland is 353 and Dublin’s area code is 01. So, if you are calling from abroad you need to dial the country’s international access code, followed by 353, 1 and the local number.

The same instructions apply when you are making an international call from within the country, dropping the zero from the local area code when dialling.

Post Office
The postal system in Ireland is operated by An Post and the main office in Dublin is the General Post Office (GPO) on O’Connell Street. There are numerous other branches in the city centre as well as scattered throughout the suburbs. They are easy to find with their trademark green signs and are usually located in a reasonably prominent area. Post offices open between 9.00am and 5.30pm from Monday to Saturday although some do not open on Saturday afternoons. Incidentally, all post boxes are also painted green and display collection times clearly on the box.

Tipping
Quite a few restaurants and hotels in Ireland are now adding a service charge of between 10 and 15% to their bill and where this is the case you should not feel obliged to leave a tip. If you feel that the service merits something extra, however, 5% is sufficient. Where the service charge is not included, a tip of between 10 and 15% is adequate. Remember at no time is tipping compulsory, it is entirely at your own discretion.

Public Holidays
It is worth noting what the public holidays before you arrive as the majority of businesses, banks and shops usually shut for the day.

In Ireland they are New Years Day (January 1st), St Patrick’s Day (March 17th), Easter (March/April), first Monday in May, June and August and the last Monday in October (all bank holidays), Christmas Day (December 25th) and St Stephens Day (December 26th).

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