General information

The UK government and the Government of Ireland have committed to maintaining the Common Travel Area (CTA).

Rights to work, study and access social security and public services will be preserved on a reciprocal basis for UK and Irish nationals in the other’s state.

What UK businesses and professionals need to know

From 1 January 2021, UK businesses will need to comply with both UK and Irish rules.

You’ll need to follow rules for:

  • cross-border trade
  • establishing and structuring your business
  • business travel and visa requirements
  • recognition of UK professional qualifications
  • data protection

The authoritative and up-to-date source for Irish market regulations is the Irish government. This guidance links to official Irish sources wherever possible.

The UK and Irish governments are committed to maintaining the CTA and protecting the associated reciprocal rights. As such, the arrangements described below are without prejudice to the rights available to individuals under the CTA.

Find out more about rights under the CTA

Irish government preparations

The government of Ireland has published details of its preparation work with information on the CTA. Irish and British citizens may wish to review this document.

Cross-border trade

The EU and UK will trade on WTO terms from 1 January 2021. The default position in this case is that UK service providers will be required to comply with GATS rules on services provision.

The Irish e-Government portal can help you to:

  • find out about providing services in Ireland
  • understand local regulations
  • complete any relevant administrative procedures online

There are also non-governmental organisations that provide advice to UK businesses operating in Ireland, for example, the British-Irish Chamber of Commerce.

These organisations are not associated with the UK government, and their views are not representative of any government policies.


From 1 January 2021, UK service providers and businesses will no longer benefit from EU Treaty Freedoms and will be subject to the national laws of each EEA state. This will mean that service providers and businesses will need to consider if they face restrictions on their ability to own, manage or direct a company registered in an EEA state.

If you have doubts about your legal position, you should seek appropriate professional advice.

Recognition of professional qualifications

There is a framework of rules for the Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications (MRPQ) between countries in the EEA and Switzerland.

From 1 January 2021, these rules won’t apply to the UK.

For job types that fall under the MRPQ rules, you can read the Commission’s guidance about the recognition of UK professional qualifications from 1 January 2021.

The guidance states that from 1 January 2021:

  • if your qualification is already recognised as valid, it will remain valid
  • UK nationals who want to get their professional qualifications recognised in the EEA or Switzerland will be assessed under the rules of the individual country
  • UK nationals wanting to provide temporary and occasional professional services in the EEA or Switzerland will have to do so under each country’s national policies and rules

Different rules apply for recognising qualifications in some professions. Read the Commission guidance for specific professional occupations. Also see the specific advice for auditors and lawyers.

The European Commission’s Regulated Professions Database (REGPROF) can help you identify:

  • professions that are regulated in each EEA country and Switzerland
  • contact details of the member states’ appropriate authority for that regulated profession
  • single point of contact in each EEA country, which gives information on registering for professional recognition online

Information on the recognition of professional qualifications in Ireland

If you are offering professional services in Ireland, look at:


For audit firms established and approved in EEA states under the Audit Directive, a majority of the ownership and management bodies of an audit firm must be ‘qualified persons’.

From 1 January 2021, ‘qualified persons’ will continue to include EEA-qualified auditors and EEA-registered audit firms. It will not include UK-qualified auditors or UK-registered firms in future.

As a result, you may need to restructure the ownership and management of your EEA audit firm.

The Commission’s preparedness notice in relation to the MRPQ Directive outlines that lawyers who have transferred into an EU member state profession through the provisions set out in the MRPQ Directive before 1 January 2021 will continue to have their qualification recognised and will be able to continue to practise from 1 January 2021.

The Commission’s preparedness seminar on professional qualifications, intellectual property, civil justice, company law, consumer protection and personal data contains information also relevant to lawyers.

UK lawyers can contact their existing UK regulator for more information.

Business travel and entry requirements

See the latest information on travel entry requirements for Ireland.

If you’re a UK legal professional who has investments in law firms in Ireland, contact the Bar of Ireland for further information.

Also see the Law Society of Ireland’s published information on Brexit.


Common Travel Area

The UK and Irish governments have committed to maintaining the Common Travel Area (CTA) from 1 January 2021. CTA arrangements mean full protection and maintenance of the status quo for all journeys for individuals between the UK and Ireland.

Rights to work, study and access social security and public services will be preserved on a reciprocal basis for UK and Irish nationals in the other’s state.

Find out more about the CTA and the rights of British and Irish citizens from 1 January 2021.

The CTA does not extend to individuals who are a British overseas territories citizen, British overseas citizen, British national (overseas) or other type of British citizen or national, and these may be subject to further restrictions.

Find out more about travelling to Ireland.

You can find out more on the Irish Department for Justice and Equality website.

Find out more about living in Ireland.

Data transfer and GDPR

You may need to take action. Find out if you need to take action by reading our guidance relating to the EEA and Switzerland.

You may need to deal with the lead supervisory authority, the Irish Data Protection Commission.

Published 19 March 2019
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