Know your rights: Travel Green list

I have to travel to a country on the ‘COVID-19 green list’ for essential purposes. What happens if it gets taken off the list while I am abroad?

The Government is advising against all non-essential travel overseas. But people may need to travel to and from Ireland for essential purposes and international travel cannot stop completely.

For that reason, on 21 July 2020, the Government published a ‘green list’ of countries with a similar or lower incidence of COVID-19 to that of Ireland. People entering Ireland from these locations do not have to restrict their movements for 14 days.  The list is intended to act as a guide to where Irish residents may travel safely for essential purposes, such as for essential work or to care for family members.

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFA) travel advice for countries on the ‘green list’ is that you should take ‘normal precautions’. This means that the country is as safe as Ireland. The security rating for all other locations remains unchanged at either ‘avoid non-essential travel’ (‘orange’) or to ‘do not travel’ (‘red’). However, because the international transmission rate of the virus changes constantly, the ‘green list’ is reviewed every 2 weeks. That means that countries and locations can be added or removed at the end of each 14 day cycle.

For example, on 4 August 2020, two weeks after the ‘green list’ was first published, the Government removed 5 countries from the list (Malta, Cyprus, Gibraltar, Monaco, and San Marino) because they had rising incidences of COVID-19. This meant that any Irish people who had travelled to Malta, Cyprus, Gibraltar, Monaco, or San Marino before 4 August 2020, now have to restrict their movements for 14 days upon returning home.

In conclusion, if you travel to a country or territory on the ‘green list’ and the country is removed from the list while you are abroad, you will have to restrict your movements for 14 days to minimise your risk of spreading the virus. This means you must not:

  • Visit other people.
  • Meet face-to-face with anyone who is at higher risk from COVID-19.
  • Use public transport (if possible). If you have no option but to use public transport, you must wear a face covering.
  • Go to the shop unless absolutely necessary. If you have no option but to go to the shop, you must wear a face covering.

Lastly, everyone travelling into Ireland from any location, a ‘green list’ country or not, must complete a Passenger Locator Form.

You can find out more about the rules regarding international travel during COVID-19 on citizensinformation.ie.

Know your rights: Wearing face coverings

Now that face coverings are mandatory in shops, I am concerned as I can’t wear a face covering?

Face coverings are not suitable for everyone and the law recognises this. For instance, children under 13 do not have to wear one. Even in places where face coverings are now mandatory such as public transport and in most shops, pharmacies, hair salons and other retail environments, you don’t have to wear one if you have a reasonable excuse.

If you have a reasonable excuse to not wear a face covering you should tell a member of staff in the shop or tell the driver or inspector on public transport.  But what exactly is a reasonable excuse?

You have a reasonable excuse not to wear a face covering if you:  

  • Cannot wear a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or a disability, or because it would cause you severe distress
  • Need to communicate with someone who has difficulties communicating
  • Remove your face covering to provide care or assistance to a vulnerable person or to provide emergency assistance to someone
  • Remove your face covering to take medication
  • Remove your face covering to avoid harm or injury

You don’t have to wear a face covering in post offices, credit unions or banks, sit-in restaurants or cafés or medical or dental offices.

Certain people do not have to wear one. For example, retail workers and drivers of public transport do not have to wear a face covering when they are separated by a screen from the public. Members of the Garda Síochána do not have to wear a face covering when performing their duties.

You can read more about when you need to wear a face covering on citizensinformation.ie and you can access our video on how to wear a face covering.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, you can find comprehensive integrated information online at citizensinformation.ie/covid19/ and you can get daily updates on what’s changed on Twitter at @citizensinfo. You can also get information and advice from:

  • The Citizens Information Phone Service: Call 0761 07 4000, Monday to Friday, 9am – 8pm
  • Our national call back service: Visit citizensinformation.ie/callback to request a phone call from an information officer

A limited number of appointments are being made in Citizens Information Centres offices where social distancing can be facilitated. You can continue to contact your local centre by email or phone using the details in Find a Centre page on citizensinformation.ie.

Phase 4 of the Roadmap for reopening Ireland will be delayed

On 4 August 2020, the Government announced that the move to Phase 4 that was planned for 10 August 2020 will now be delayed for at least 3 weeks until 31 August 2020.

Additional measures announced include:

  • Pubs that do not serve food will not be able to reopen on Monday 10 August 2020
  • Restaurants will have to close at 11pm
  • Face coverings will become mandatory in shops and shopping centres from 10 August 2020
  • The current restrictions on indoor and outdoor gatherings will continue with up to 50 people allowed to gather indoors and up to 200 allowed to gather outdoors
  • 5 countries – Monaco, San Marino, Gibraltar, Malta and Cyprus – have been removed from the COVID-19 Green List of countries (also called ‘normal precautions’ listed countries) that you can travel to without having to restrict your movement for 14 days when you return home. The public health advice continues to be that that the safest thing to do is not to travel abroad.

We will update citizensinformation.ie with detailed information when it is available.

Know your rights: How to deal with scams

Question: I think I’ve been scammed, can I get my money back?

If you’ve been scammed, you have been tricked into parting with your money.

The scam can come in many forms.  You may be sold fake tickets that don’t exist. You may get a missed call from a scammer and when you phone back you could be paying a premium rate.  You could get a bogus email pretending to be from your bank, trying to trick you into sharing your personal and financial information.

If you suspect you’ve been scammed you should act immediately:

  • Stop all contact with the scammer
  • Do not send any more payments
  • If you paid by credit or debit card, tell your bank or card provider immediately
  • Report the incident to your local Garda station –scamming is a criminal matter
  • Gather any records you have about the scam (emails or other communications)
  • Protect your devices by resetting your passwords and update your anti-virus software
  • Report the incident to consumer protection agencies such as the CPCC, for advice and to help stop other people being caught in the same scam

You may be able to get your money back depending on what happened and how you paid the scammer.

You may get your money back if you:

  • Notice money has been taken from your account without your authorisation, and you contact your bank immediately.  In most circumstances, you bank must refund you for an unauthorised payment.
  • Bought something from a scammer with your debit card, credit card or PayPal. You can ask your bank or credit provider to reverse the transaction through a process known as a chargeback.

It’s unlikely you will get your money back if you:

  • Paid by bank transfer. It can be harder to get money back, but the sooner you contact your bank the better.
  • Paid by money transfer services such as MoneyGram, PayPoint or Western Union.
  • Paid by vouchers or gift card

To protect yourself in future, you should not share your personal information if you don’t know who are dealing with.  Trust your instinct and always ask yourself ‘is it safe?’ 

You can read more about how to protect yourself from scams on citizensinformation.ie.


During the COVID-19 pandemic, you can find comprehensive integrated information online at citizensinformation.ie/covid19/ and you can get daily updates on what’s changed on Twitter at @citizensinfo. You can also get information and advice from:

  • The Citizens Information Phone Service: Call 0761 07 4000, Monday to Friday, 9am – 8pm
  • Our national call back service: Visit citizensinformation.ie/callback to request a phone call from an information officer

From July, a limited number of appointments are being made in Citizens Information Centres offices where social distancing can be facilitated. You can continue to contact your local centre by email or phone using the details in Find a Centre page on citizensinformation.ie.

Know your rights: Returning to school

When schools reopen, what health and safety rules will children have to follow?

The Government plans to reopen schools at the start of the new school year – end August 2020.

Students will have to keep a physical distance from one another when they are outside the classroom, including in hallways and outdoor spaces.

Inside the classroom, students will work within designated groupings or ‘bubbles’. Schools may use PE halls and other areas as classrooms to allow for physical distancing.

Students may also do ‘blended learning’. This means that their school programme will include learning at school and online learning at home.

Students and teachers will do more hand-washing and sanitising, and they will take staggered breaks and lunch times. There will be enhanced cleaning regimes in all schools to minimise the risk of spreading COVID-19.

If your child is using school transport, they must:

  • Maintain physical distancing while waiting for the bus
  • Use hand sanitiser when boarding the bus
  • Always sit in a pre-assigned seat
  • Always sit beside the same child (either a sibling or a child from the same class group)
  • Observe respiratory etiquette at all times while waiting for and on-board the bus
  • Get off the bus one-by-one

If your child is in secondary school and using school transport, they must also wear a mask while waiting for and on-board the bus. Children with medical or special educational needs do not have to wear a face covering.

You can read the Government’s Roadmap for the full return to school for detailed guidance on returning to school.[


During the COVID-19 pandemic, you can find comprehensive integrated information online at citizensinformation.ie/covid19/ and you can get daily updates on what’s changed on Twitter at @citizensinfo. You can also get information and advice from:

  • The Citizens Information Phone Service: Call 0761 07 4000, Monday to Friday, 9am – 8pm
  • Our national call back service: Visit citizensinformation.ie/callback to request a phone call from an information officer

A limited number of appointments are being made in Citizens Information Centres offices where social distancing can be facilitated. You can continue to contact your local centre by email or phone using the details in Find a Centre page on citizensinformation.ie.

July Jobs Stimulus

The Government announced a package of supports called the July Jobs Stimulus on 23 July 2020. The key provisions of the package include:

  • The  COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment will be extended to April 2021 and closed to new applications from 17 September 2020. From 17 September 2020, there will be three rates of payment:
For people who previously earned less than €200 per week €203
For people who previously earned between €200 and €300 per week €250
For people who previously earned over €300 per week €300

You can read more about the social protection and employment support provisions in the press release from DEASP and on gov.ie.

  • A new Employment Wage Support Scheme will succeed the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme, and run until April 2021. Employers and new firms in sectors impacted by COVID-19 whose turnover has fallen 30% will get a flat-rate subsidy of up to €203 per week per employee, including seasonal staff and new employees.
  • A range of supports for business were announced. With limited exceptions, the waiver of commercial rates will be extended until the end of September and the COVID-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme will provide an 80% guarantee for a wide range of credit products from €10,000 to €1 million up to a maximum term of 6 years. Small and micro companies will be supported through additional resources for MicroFinance Ireland and the Local Enterprise Offices. This will include measures to reduce interest rates on lending for micro and small businesses, including grants equivalent to 0% interest on the first year of SBCI and MFI loans. The Future Growth Loan Scheme is being expanded.
  • The standard rate of VAT will be reduced from 23% to 21%, effective from the beginning of September for 6 months.
  • A new Stay and Spend Incentive will refund taxpayer spending on accommodation, food and non-alcoholic drinks, between October 2020 and April 2021, through a tax rebate of up to €125.
  • Enhanced levels of support will be made available under the Help to Buy scheme until December 2020.
  • An increased allowable expenditure under the Cycle to Work scheme from €1,000 to €1,500 for ebikes, and €1,250 for other bicycles will be introduced.

You can get full details of the July Jobs Stimulus on gov.ie.

Know your rights: Learner permit renewal

My learner permit is due to expire soon, what do I need to do?

You must hold a valid learner permit to learn to drive on public roads in Ireland. You must always have the learner permit with you when you are driving and adhere to certain driving restrictions.

Your first or second learner permit usually lasts for two years while a third and subsequent permit lasts for one year. You need to hold your first learner permit for at least 6 months before you take a driving test.  If you are applying for a third or subsequent permit you must show evidence that you have taken a driving test in the previous 2 years or have an appointment for a forthcoming driving test.

How do I renew my permit?

In most cases, you can renew your learner permit online if you have a Public Services Card (PSC) and a verified MyGovID account. This option is not available if:

  • You hold a bus or truck category on your licence
  • You are over 70
  • You are applying for your third or subsequent learner permit
  • You have a medical condition that requires a medical report (see the driving licence form (pdf) for a list of applicable medical conditions)

If you cannot renew your licence online, you will have to apply to a National Driver Licence Service (NDLS) office in person. 

You must bring your completed application form and the following documentation with you when renewing your driving licence:

  • Your current or most recently issued driving licence
  • The application fee of €35
  • Documentation to prove your identity
  • A Driving Licence Medical Report Form, if required
  • A Driving Licence Eyesight Report Form, if required

COVID-19 and renewing your learner permit

During the COVID-19 public health emergency, if your learner permit is due to expire between 1 March 2020 and 31 October 2020 it will automatically be renewed for 4 months. This means that if your learner permit was due to expire 1 July, your permit will expire on 1 November 2020.

You will not receive a new licence or permit during this time, but your driver record will be updated to show that your licence or learner permit is still valid.

NDLS offices reopened on a phased basis from 8 June 2020. You can find details of which NDLS offices are open on the Road Safety Authority website. NDLS offices will not operate a drop-in service. You can book an appointment to attend an office in person.

You can find out more about learner permits by visiting citizensinformation.ie. You can get the application form on the National Driver Licence Service website


During the COVID-19 pandemic, you can find comprehensive integrated information online at citizensinformation.ie/covid19/ and you can get daily updates on what’s changed on Twitter at @citizensinfo. You can also get information and advice from:

  • The Citizens Information Phone Service: Call 0761 07 4000, Monday to Friday, 9am – 8pm
  • Our national call back service: Visit citizensinformation.ie/callback to request a phone call from an information officer

From July, a limited number of appointments are being made in Citizens Information Centres offices where social distancing can be facilitated. You can continue to contact your local centre by email or phone using the details in Find a Centre page on citizensinformation.ie.

Know your rights: Shopping online refunds

I bought something online. Can I change my mind and get a refund even though it’s not faulty?

You are not automatically entitled to a refund when returning an item you bought in a shop because you have simply changed your mind. If there is nothing wrong with the item (for example, there isn’t a fault) then you have no legal right to return the goods.

The situation is different for purchases made online. When you buy online you are entering into a contract called a distance contract. With this type of contract, you do not enter the contract in person and you cannot check the products before you buy. Because of this, you have additional protections under EU law.

Your cancellation rights

Under the Consumer Rights Directive, you have 14 calendar days to change your mind without having to give a reason. This right to cancel is also known as the ‘cooling-off period’.

For products bought online, your right to cancel the order starts the moment you receive the product. You have 14 days to tell the seller you want to cancel and then a further 14 days to return the item. You may have to pay for the cost of returning the item.

Right to a refund with 14 days of cancellation

You must be refunded within 14 days of cancellation, including standard delivery costs. A seller may not process the refund until they have proof that goods have been sent back.

Does my right to cancel apply to all online purchases?

The cooling-off period does not apply to certain purchases. Examples are personalised products or leisure services such as hotel bookings, car rental or concert tickets.

The Consumer Rights Directive does not apply:

  • If you buy something online from a trader who is based outside the EU, for example you buy an item from a Chinese website
  • To consumer-to-consumer deals, that is where you buy from a private individual

Brexit and buying online from a UK business

The UK left the European Union on 31 January 2020 and is now in a transition period while the UK and EU negotiate additional arrangements.  If you are buying online from a UK trader, your consumer rights remain the same during the transition period (until 31 December 2020).

You can find out more on your consumer rights by visiting citizensinformation.ie.


During the COVID-19 pandemic, you can find comprehensive integrated information online at citizensinformation.ie/covid19/ and you can get daily updates on what’s changed on Twitter at @citizensinfo. You can also get information and advice from:

  • The Citizens Information Phone Service: Call 0761 07 4000, Monday to Friday, 9am – 8pm
  • Our national call back service: Visit citizensinformation.ie/callback to request a phone call from an information officer

From July, a limited number of appointments are being made in Citizens Information Centres offices where social distancing can be facilitated. You can continue to contact your local centre by email or phone using the details in Find a Centre page on citizensinformation.ie.

New Consumer category on citizensinformation.ie

We have launched a new category called Consumer on citizensinformation.ie. It replaces the Consumer Affairs category.

The new consumer category has detailed information about your consumer rights and how to deal with things confidently if they go wrong. We have added a new section called Common consumer problems and have new topics on:

Visit the new category to get help with how to complain and get information on the full range of consumer rights including:

You can also send us feedback which will help us continue to improve the content. 

Know your rights: National Car Test (NCT) booking

When do I need to submit my car for its NCT?

NCT services were suspended during the COVID-19 emergency. 

If your car was due for its NCT between 28 March and 30 June, your test date was extended for 4 months from the original date of the NCT. This means that if your car was due for an NCT on 1 June, your NCT is now due on 1 October 2020.

You can check the date for your NCT on the NCTS website. You can also request a reminder by email or by text message.

If your car was due for its NCT before 28 March, you can now book for a test.

Some NCT centres reopened from 8 June 2020. You can see what NCTS centres are open on the NCTS website.

If you couldn’t complete the NCT earlier this year (because of issues with car lifts) , you should continue to carry the Vehicle Inspection Report that says that your test was incomplete.



During the COVID-19 pandemic, you can find comprehensive integrated information online at citizensinformation.ie/covid19/ and you can get daily updates on what’s changed on Twitter at @citizensinfo. You can also get information and advice from:

  • The Citizens Information Phone Service: Call 0761 07 4000, Monday to Friday, 9am – 8pm
  • Our national call back service: Visit citizensinformation.ie/callback to request a phone call from an information officer

From July, a limited number of appointments are being made in Citizens Information Centres offices where social distancing can be facilitated. You can continue to contact your local centre by email or phone using the details in Find a Centre page on citizensinformation.ie.