Dec 2018

Common Travel Area

The Common Travel Area is a long-standing arrangement between the UK and Ireland which means Irish citizens can move freely to live, work, and study in the UK on the same basis as UK citizens and vice versa. It is an arrangement that is valued on both islands.

Both the Government of Ireland and the UK Government have committed to maintaining the Common Travel Area (CTA) in all circumstances. Under the CTA, Irish and British citizens move freely and reside in either jurisdictionand enjoy associated reciprocal rights and privileges including access to:
 employment
 healthcare
 education
 social benefits
 the right to vote in certain elections

The CTA pre-dates Irish and UK membership of the EU and is not  dependent on it. The CTA is recognised in Protocol 20 to the EU Treaties, which acknowledges that Ireland and the UK may continue to make arrangements between themselves relating to the CTA while fully respecting the free movement and other rights of EU citizens and their dependents.

Protocol 20 will continue to apply to Ireland after Brexit. The work required to maintain the Common Travel Area and its associated reciprocal rights and privileges is at an advanced stage, both at home and
bilaterally between Ireland and the UK, to ensure that all necessary provisions are made in both jurisdictions so that the CTA can continue to function effectively.

July 2019

The Common Travel Area (CTA) is a long-standing arrangement between the UK and Ireland which means Irish citizens can move freely to live, work, and study in the UK on the same basis as British citizens and vice versa.

The Government has undertaken extensive work to maintain arrangements under the CTA in all Brexit scenarios. On 8 May 2019 the Irish and British Governments entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) reaffirming our joint commitment to the CTA, and to maintaining the associated rights and privileges of Irish and British citizens under this longstanding reciprocal arrangement.

Social Protection

On 1 February 2019, the Irish and British Governments signed a Convention on Social Security in the context of the CTA. Under the terms of the Convention all existing arrangements with regard to the recognition of contributions, and access to, social welfare entitlements will be maintained in both jurisdictions.

The Brexit Omnibus Act provides that employees who are habitually employed in Ireland, and whose employer has been made insolvent under the laws of the UK, will continue to be covered by the protections of the insolvency payment scheme and by the Protection of Employees (Employers’ Insolvency) Act 1984.


The Irish and British Governments have committed to the shared objective of maintaining the CTA arrangements, which have long facilitated Irish and UK residents in accessing health services in each other’s jurisdictions.

Provision has been made to ensure the arrangements necessary to maintain health service cooperation and to implement the agreed high level principles for the period after a no deal Brexit.
These include the maintenance of current arrangements for access to routine, planned and emergency health services for UK/Irish residents and visitors in the other jurisdiction. It also includes health cooperation on access to specialist health services in the other jurisdiction including for example (including, for example, continued access to specialist paediatric cardiology services on an all island basis and access to specialist cancer and cardiac services.


Ireland and the UK have made substantial progress on the principles relating to maintenance of existing arrangements to access education services for Irish and British Citizens under the CTA. The principles cover access to early-years, primary and postprimary education, special needs education, further education and training, and higher education.

Provision has been made through the Brexit Omnibus Act to maintain the payment of SUSI supports to Irish students in the UK (about 1,400) and UK students in Ireland (about 200).
Fees for students from Northern Ireland and the UK will be set at the same level as those for EU students who commence their studies in Ireland in September 2019 and it is planned that this provision will continue on a long-term basis.

Recognition of Professional Qualifications

The Department of Education and Skills has coordinated work across government to ensure, as far as possible, arrangements will be in place for the recognition of UK professional qualifications post-Brexit when the UK becomes a ‘third country’. The importance of this work as part of affirming the right to work under the CTA was acknowledged in the MoU signed by both Governments in May 2019.

Two main approaches have been used in this work: the preparation of secondary legislation, and engagement by Irish Regulatory Authorities to ensure that any arrangements required to ensure that they can continue to provide for recognition of UK qualifications are in place. As part of the work associated with the Brexit Omnibus Act, departments, where necessary, will have legislative procedures in place for 31 October, while Regulatory Authorities are expected to finalise their work by then.

In certain areas such as F-gases and the aviation and maritime sectors, recognition of UK qualifications will be based on EU-level solutions.

Next Steps

Between now and 31 October, the Government will take the following steps:
 Under the overarching CTA MOU, a group of senior officials from both jurisdictions will meet at least once a year. The group will operate in coordination with structured intergovernmental arrangements between the participants.
 Departments will ensure that their regulatory authorities have put procedures in place to maintain the recognition of UK qualifications in Ireland, and vice versa.
Between now and 31 October, the Government calls on individuals holding UK professional qualifications to:
 Inform themselves urgently with regard to securing continued recognition of those qualifications after Brexit, and associated questions including right to practice. Professional bodies and regulators are a vital first point of contact for individuals.

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