What telephone number should you call in an emergency when traveling in Ireland? Thankfully the answer is short and easy to remember in real emergencies. When you need an emergency phone in Ireland the most important one is 112 or 999, which can be called toll-free from all landlines or cell phones.
112 and 999 will both connect you to the emergency services no matter if you are in the Republic of Ireland or Northern Ireland. The 112 number is standardized for emergency services across the EU, while 999 was the previous emergency number in Ireland. To avoid confusion, either one will work.
Main Emergency Services
When calling 112 or 999, you will be asked for your location and for the service you need (ambulance, police, etc). Listen to the operator and stay calm. The first person will likely need only the most critical information and then pass the call to a specialized service where you can then explain the entire situation.
If you are calling from a mobile phone, there are a number of areas in Ireland where mobile phone coverage is patchy or depends on the network used. The latter problem will be automatically overcome by your phone—as soon as you dial 112 or 999 you will be connected to the strongest network in the area. Be aware, however, that there may be almost no coverage in some remote areas. If you are planning to spend time in the wilderness or deep in the countryside, you should give notice of your plans to your hotel or another point of contact.
You should be aware that all these services will respond without a charge to genuine emergencies, though you may later be asked to provide insurance details to recover some of the costs. Also be aware that there are fines in place for malicious, false, and time-wasting call-outs, but as long as you are acting in good faith you should not be penalized.
Dial 112 or 999 and ask the operator to put you through to the Garda (Republic of Ireland) or the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI). Response times vary widely between rural and urban areas. The actual response may very much depend on the nature of the emergency. If you want to report the loss or theft of an item, you will more than likely be asked to come to the nearest police or garda station to fill out a form rather than the police being sent out to you.
Emergency Medical Services and Ambulance
Dial 112 or 999 and ask the operator to put you through to the ambulance service. Take note that this is for life-threatening emergencies (through accident or sudden illness) only. If you are sick in Ireland and need to see a General Practitioner (family doctor) then you should first ask the hotel front desk about the nearest medical office. You may also visit an A&E (accident and emergency) department in a local hospital, but this will always incur a hefty charge and, more than likely, long waiting hours. You may also find numbers for local ambulance services by either private companies or voluntary units, although these should not be confused with the regular emergency medical services.
Fire and Rescue Services
Dial 112 or 999 and ask the operator to put you through to the fire service. They will provide firefighting and technical rescue if needed. Note that roadside assistance for stranded cars (also often referred to as "rescue") is not part of their portfolio.
Marine and Coastal Emergencies
Dial 112 or 999 and ask the operator to put you through to the Coast Guard. The Garda Costa na hEireann (Irish Coast Guard) or the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (Northern Ireland) will coordinate the response by cliff rescue teams, inshore rescue units, lifeboats, and SAR helicopters if necessary. Distress calls may also be made by marine radio or flares, but this is within the domain of qualified skippers only.
Mountain Rescue or Cave Rescue
Dial 112 or 999 and ask the operator to put you through to the mountain rescue service.
Embassies in the Republic of Ireland
If you are traveling in Ireland and an emergency arises, you may also need to reach out to your local embassy. If you have questions about medical services, need legal help, or your passport is lost or stolen, you should contact your country's embassy for guidance.
- British Embassy: (+353) 1-205-3700
- Canadian Embassy: (+353) 1-234-4000
- United States Embassy: (+353) 1-668-8777