LONDON, England - From today, Indian tourists will be able to visit Britain and Ireland on a single visa.
The scheme was formally launched by British home secretary Theresa May and the Irish minister for justice and equality, Frances Fitzgerald, last October. It is currently only open to Indian and Chinese nationals.
Indians can apply for their UK or Irish visit visas under the British-Irish Visa Scheme from February 10. The scheme will make it easier for Indian travellers to visit both countries on the same trip.
"India is a key growth market for both UK and Irish tourism," said Sir James Bevan, the British high commissioner to India. "We hope that more Indian visitors will choose to come to the UK and Ireland as a result of this latest change."
Feilim McLaughlin, Ireland's ambassador to India, said: "India is a priority market for Ireland under the government's trade, tourism and investment strategy."
As part of the scheme, Ireland will share UK's 12 visa application centres across India. All applicants wanting to apply for any Irish or UK visa will need to use the shared centres to submit their applications and give their biometrics.
Those using the scheme will need to travel to the country that issued their visa first, before being able to travel onto the other country. But visitors transiting via the UK to Ireland will not need a separate transit visa, according to a press release from the British High Commission.
Records show that in the year ending September 2014 over 300,000 visitor visas were issued to Indian nationals and 91% of all Indian customers were successful in their visa applications.
Under the new scheme, an Indian or Chinese visitor in Dublin will be able to make a short trip to London or Belfast without needing a separate visa. Alternatively, an Indian or Chinese visitor in London could travel to Dublin or Cork.
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