• The EU qualifications rules apply to over 180 listed regulated activities in the commercial craft and industrial spheres. Those sectors are listed in Annex IV to the Services directive which can be viewed here  It applies to persons who want to establish themselves as self-employed workers or employees in the host state. There are detailed provisions which allow for either automatic recognition in the host state or recognition subject to additional training education or experience
  • In some cases, such as in the medical, health, veterinarian and architects’ professions, there is automatic recognition of qualifications based on common education and experience requirements. In other areas, there is facilitated recognition of qualification of home EU state qualification in the host EU state, with additional training, education or experience, where strictly necessary. Even where qualifications are recognised it is often  necessary to have a licence practising certificate and or insurance in the host  state,
  • The EU and UK in have indicated in notes that qualifications which have been recognised already will continue to be recognised
  • Apart from full recognition in the host state, it is usually possible to practise under the home state title in one EU state and provide services cross-border on a temporary or occasional basis in another EU state, provided this is being done in the capacity as a home state provider; e.g. an Irish accountant practising as such in the UK (providing Irish tax and accounting services.
  • The UK and Irish governments signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the Common Travel Area , in which they agreed to instruct their qualifications authorities to seek to maintain arrangements for recognition of qualifications after Brexit.
  • In the handful of areas that were subject to statutory licensing before EEC entry in 1973 such as in the medical and veterinary sphere, Irish and UK qualifications were mutually recognised. In other areas, regulators and educational bodies cooperated closely so that there was mutual recognition of each other’s qualifications either automatically or with some adjustment.

Human Resources

  • In many cases, the most important Brexit related issue for service providers will be human resources. The United Kingdom has announced a new points-based immigration system to apply from the end of 2020 for those coming to work in United Kingdom.
  • Under the Common Travel Area, Irish and UK citizens will continue to enjoy full rights to enter and work in the other jurisdiction.
  • Immigration compliance will arise in relation to “EU26” employees i.e. those other than from Ireland and the United Kingdom, who enter the UK.
  • UK citizens visiting continental EU states will be subject to their immigration rules. Many elements of immigration rules have been harmonised in continental Europe. The Schengen visa enables its holder to enter, freely travel within, and leave the Schengen zone from any of the Schengen member countries. There are no border controls within the Schengen Zone.
  • EU 26 employees are commonly part of workforces in Ireland and the United Kingdom. Where EU 26 employees travel into the United Kingdom after Brexit, consideration will need to be given as to the basis on which they do so. Temporary business entry, which would not prior approval in almost all cases, may be sufficient in many cases. IN other cases, where  longer-term presence is required, it may be necessary to comply with the new UK visa requirements
  • A Visa may be required for an  EU 26 national who wishes to work in the United Kingdom after 2020. This may require that the sponsoring employer has a sponsor licence. This generally requires an establishment or company incorporated in the United Kingdom which complies with the conditions for a sponsor licence.
  • Existing EU 26 employees who are resident in the UK may apply for settled status (five years plus usually) or pre-settled status (less than five years but with a potential pathway to 5 years’ continuous  residence)
  • “Frontier workers” who live in one state and work on the other may apply for a similar status.
  • The parts of this website dealing with human resources and immigration should be consulted in this regard.

The Common Travel Area and Services

  • The Common Travel Area is very important in the area of trade in services between nationals and businesses established in Ireland and those in the United Kingdom. In many service businesses, human resources are the most critical factor. Therefore, the continuation of free movement of Irish and UK nationals between Ireland and the United Kingdom will be of prime importance.
  • Although it is not a treaty that is legally enforceable in the same way as the European Union treaties,  the Common Travel Area has been consistently recognised by Ireland and the UK and is specifically acknowledged in the European Union Treaties. The Governments of Ireland and the UK signed a Memorandum of understanding in May 2019 in relation to the Common Travel Area which seeks to flesh out certain important practical aspects of it.
  • The Common Travel Area allows citizens of Ireland and the UK to come to each other’s territory unrestricted,  without visas and have immediate settled status. This means that free movement of people will continue as between UK and Irish citizens. For many services businesses, the most important post-exit consideration will arise in relation to their EU 26 national employees, who travel to the United Kingdom to provide services.
  • Citizens of each of the United Kingdom and Ireland have the right to work in the other jurisdiction as an employee or self-employed person. Each has immediate civil and the same political rights, right to education employment and training support as citizens of the host country, on the same terms and conditions.

Other UK Irish Initiatives Relevant to Services

  • In their May 2019 Memorandum of Understanding the UK and Ireland agreed to prioritise mutual recognition of qualifications to the extent possible, in order to give effect to the Common Travel Area.


  • In 2019, Ireland and the UK government signed a Social Security convention reinstating after 2020 many of the important EU rules on the accumulation of social security credits and the payment of benefits.
  • The political, legal cultural and historical ties between Ireland and the United Kingdom, the common language common legal system and shared legal heritage means that the legal rules and regulations in many areas and sectors are very similar in Ireland and the United Kingdom.
  • In the case of some regulated business and professional services, there are very close ties between the relevant UK and Irish institutions. In many cases, they recognise each other’s training and allow admission to membership of the other’s institution with minimal or no requalification.
  • In the cases of some regulated professions such as in medical and healthcare the Irish and UK legislation recognised qualifications from the other territory, long before EU membership.
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