The purpose of this notice is to provide clarity on the Common Travel Area (CTA) arrangements and the associated rights and privileges of British and Irish citizens in the other jurisdictions.

Before 29 March 2019 (may also apply to new exit date on 31 December 2020)

If you are a British or Irish citizen you can travel freely within the Common Travel Area (CTA) without seeking immigration permission from the authorities. For other nationalities, the CTA’s internal borders are subject to some immigration restrictions but not, or only to a minimal extent, border controls.

As a British citizen in Ireland or an Irish citizen in the UK, to facilitate moving to and working in each other’s jurisdictions you can enjoy associated rights and entitlements including access to employment, healthcare, education, social benefits, as well as the right to vote in certain elections. For nationality purposes, as directed in the British Nationality Act 1981, the Crown Dependencies are treated as if part of the United Kingdom: they do not have separate nationality laws.

The CTA is a long-standing arrangement between the UK, the Crown Dependencies (Jersey; Guernsey; Isle of Man) and Ireland. It has its origins in the 1920s and ensures that British and Irish citizens can move freely between and reside in these islands. The CTA is not reliant on membership of the EU, formed before either the UK or Ireland were members, but based on domestic legislation and bilateral agreements.

The CTA established cooperation between the immigration authorities of its members to provide a pragmatic response to the movement of people within it, including other nationalities who remain subject to immigration control. Central to the UK’s legal framework is that there are no routine immigration controls on journeys from within the CTA to the UK, including on the Northern Ireland-Ireland land border.

The UK’s approach to the CTA is set out in the Immigration Act 1971 and subsequent secondary legislation. These legislative arrangements are extended to the Crown Dependencies. Protocol 20 to the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU recognises the cooperation between members, confirming that the UK and Ireland can ‘continue to make arrangements between themselves relating to the movement of persons between their territories (the Common Travel Area)’. More recently the Commission has acknowledged that the CTA arrangements can continue, as confirmed in paragraph 54 of the Joint Report from the negotiators of the European Union and the United Kingdom (2017).

The rights of Irish citizens in the UK are rooted in the Ireland Act 1949 but provided for in subsequent legislation and bilateral agreements as the nature of these rights has evolved over time.

The CTA arrangements are deeply embedded within our shared history and are central to our close social and cultural ties. These arrangements complement the provisions of the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement.

After March 2019 if there is no deal

If you are an Irish citizen you would continue to have the right to enter and remain in the UK, as now. You are not required to do anything to protect your status.

In addition, you would continue to enjoy the reciprocal rights associated with the CTA in the same way that British citizens in Ireland would if there is no deal. These rights include the right to work, study and vote, access to social welfare benefits and health services. Where required domestic legislation and agreements would be updated to ensure that the CTA rights continue to have a clear legal basis.

There would be no practical changes to the UK’s approach to immigration on journeys within the CTA: as now there would be no routine immigration controls on journeys from within the CTA to the UK. The legislation governing this approach will remain unchanged when the UK leaves the EU. So too will the legislative framework of integrated immigration laws between the UK and the Crown Dependencies. The CTA arrangements would be maintained, promoting the benefits of migration between these islands.

If you are not an Irish or British citizen you will be required to continue to meet relevant domestic entry clearance requirements as set out in the Immigration (Control of Entry through the Republic of Ireland) Order 1972 (as amended). The UK will continue to work with Ireland and the Crown Dependencies on the movement of people between these islands, ensuring the effective functioning of the CTA and its external border.

The CTA holds special importance to people in their daily lives: it goes to the heart of the relationship between these islands. The UK government is firmly committed to maintaining the CTA arrangements after the UK leaves the EU, an objective shared by the Crown Dependencies. The Irish Government has been clear also in its commitment to the continuation of the CTA. The CTA has proven to be resilient over the years and would continue to endure if there is no deal.

What you would need to do

If you are a British or Irish citizen in another part of the CTA you are not required to take any action to protect your status or rights associated with the CTA.

When travelling to the UK from within the CTA you should continue with your journey as you do today, meeting any travel requirements set by your carrier.

Irish citizens in the UK and British citizens in Ireland will continue to enjoy the same associated rights and entitlements to public services, including access to employment, healthcare, education, social welfare and benefits, as well as the right to vote in certain elections.

If you are a non-Irish or British citizen arriving in the UK from Ireland you should ensure that you follow UK entry clearance requirements. Find out more about entry clearance requirements.

More information

Find out more about the CTA and rights of Irish citizens in the UK as the UK leaves the EU.

This notice is meant for guidance only. You should consider whether you need separate professional advice before making specific preparations.

It is part of the government’s ongoing programme of planning for all possible outcomes. We expect to negotiate a successful deal with the EU.

Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein are party to the Agreement on the European Economic Area and participate in other EU arrangements. As such, in many areas, these countries adopt EU rules. Where this is the case, these technical notices may also apply to them, and EEA businesses and citizens should consider whether they need to take any steps to prepare for a ‘no deal’ scenario.


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