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Problems with Irish Immigration

Irish Immigration confiscated my passport and threatened to ban me from the country. What can I do? Hello Megan, First of all, your passport is the property of the US government. It is my impression that the Irish officials have no legal grounds to confiscate it. I would IMMEDIATELY go to the US embassy in [...]

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Irish Immigration confiscated my passport and threatened to ban me from the country. What can I do?

Hello Megan,

First of all, your passport is the property of the US government. It is my impression that the Irish officials have no legal grounds to confiscate it. I would IMMEDIATELY go to the US embassy in Ireland and explain your situation to them. I would also recommend going back to the Garda that you went to last year and put pressure on them to rectify the situation. Try to get it in writing on official letter head and with a signature that you were not required to have a sticker on your passport. I would then recommend taking this form to whoever you are directed to contact in immigration to get your passport back.

Did the immigration official who confiscated your passport indicate a procedure on how to get it back? Did he tell you to report to any offices at any given time?

Make sure that you write down the names and positions of every official that you talk to throughout this entire procedure as well as the date and times that you consulted them. One rule of governments is that one hand very often has little clue what the other hand is doing, and it is important to be able to say “such and such from some office said . . . ” Also, never leave one office without getting the contact information for who you should talk to next. Don’t be afraid to refuse to move from an officials vicinity if they try to blow you off — be a clog in their machinery.

I assume that if you have previously began the procedures to get a domestic partnership visa you have this paperwork with you, correct? Return to the offices that you got these forms from and try to recontact the people who signed them. Tell them the situation and try to push through the completion of the visa.

Make sure that you get everything that you can get in writing and are able to give the names of ever person that you talk to. If you can, try to get a copy of some official form that says that you did not need a sticker in your passport.

It is amazing to me that the Irish officials would let you into the country without incarcerating you and only confiscating your passport. I would go to the US Embassy and declare that your passport was stolen and tell them everything. They probably have better advice in this instance than me. You embassy is there to protect you.

If you want to prevent being banned from Ireland, I would also recommend contacting an Irish immigration lawyer for consultation. It could not hurt. Also, I would recommend not leaving the country voluntarily if they do try to deport you. Make them work to kick you out.

It is my experience that Irish officials can be a little soggy, lazy, and unhelpful in such circumstances, and I presume that you have a difficult road ahead of you. Make the officials responsible rectify this situation and take your boyfriend with you to help every step of the way.

It absolutely blows my mind how many American travelers are having problems getting through Irish immigration. It is almost enough for me to just recommend travelers to forgo traveling to Ireland altogether until immigration ceases their rampant harassment of tourists. The regularity with which travelers write to me about being held up, interrogated, and denied entry to Ireland is appalling. I have not yet witnessed such harsh immigration standards being applied to American travelers anywhere.

I wish you the best in this fiasco. Please keep me updated on how everything works out for you.

Walk Slow,


Photo from

Original question about being banned from Ireland

I overstayed my 90 days in Ireland in fall of 2008 by about 60 days. My Irish Citizen boyfriend and I were applying for a domestic partnership visa extension during that time. By December I decided to return to the US to finish my degree. I have just returned to Ireland, again. The Immigration officer confiscated my passport after I landed this time and I have been informed I will be banned from the country when I leave in 2 weeks.
The Immigration office says I was supposed to get a sticker on my passport while I was applying for the extension. I was told at the Garda last year that I was fine and did not need any sticker. I am stunned, I tried to obey all the rules, and now I am being banned, and who knows if a fine will be next? I will be flying back to the US soon.
Who can I contact to help me, or am I beyond help. This is so frustrating because I tried to follow the law.



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Filed under: Border Crossing, Ireland, Travel Help, Visas

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 91 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3722 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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VBJ is currently in: New York City

2 comments… add one

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  • Seth September 9, 2009, 10:38 am

    I got a mild grilling when I flew into Dublin just over a month ago en route to Spain. My plan was to stay a few days exploring Dublin before catching a Ryanair flight to my final destination.

    The fact that I had a one-way ticket seemed to catch the interest of the immigration official. My actual plan was to fly to Spain and stay with a friend while I hunted for work. I did not tell the immigration official this of course, I was said I was merely there to party it up and had not yet decided exactly when I would be coming back. If he pressed the issue, I was prepared to explain that I had 90 day to decide, didn’t I? and it can be damn expensive to change an overseas plane ticket so that’s why I was holding off on booking one.

    If I do end up overstaying my Schengen visa, I will definitely try to avoid passing through Ireland and UK on the way back to the states.

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    • Wade | Vagabondjourney.com September 14, 2009, 9:34 pm

      Good call, but think twice about overstaying your Schengen visa. The region is batten down their hatches and travelers who overstay are getting caught more readily.

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