Brexit: UK and Ireland discuss alterations to travel permits

Speed limits in miles per hour are posted on a sign that welcomes you to Northern Ireland

The new Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) system for the UK is being discussed by officials from the UK and Ireland.

Non-British and non-Irish nationals must have the ETA before entering the UK.

Currently, non-Irish citizens living in Ireland legally must have an ETA in order to enter Northern Ireland.

An exemption for that group of people is the main topic of discussion.

Due to the long-standing Common Travel Area (CTA) immigration agreement between the UK and Ireland, Irish citizens will not need an ETA.

To cross the border into Northern Ireland, even for a quick shopping trip, a legal Irish resident, such as a Pole, would need an ETA.

In a letter to lawmakers on the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, the UK immigration minister stated that the government wanted to "ensure the realities of daily cross-border travel are acknowledged in the ETA scheme.".

It was further stated by Robert Jenrick that in-depth discussions had been held regarding "whether there is scope for a workable UK-Ireland data-sharing solution to determine if a person is a lawful resident of Ireland and could, therefore, potentially be exempt from the ETA.".

Robert Jenrick
Robert Jenrick is advocating for an ETA public awareness campaign.

The tourism sector in Northern Ireland has also asked for ETA exemptions.

The impact on foreign visitors who land in Dublin and then intend to travel to Northern Ireland worries the government.

The head of Tourism Ireland told BBC News Northern Ireland in January that tour operators could remove Northern Ireland from their itineraries to avoid any potential ETA issues.

The ideal situation is that it doesn't apply to Northern Ireland, but at the very least, you want a waiver that is valid for a set period of time, according to Niall Gibbons. ".

However, Mr. Jenrick's letter implies that the government's preferred course of action is a public information campaign rather than a waiver.

"A clear communications strategy will be essential to addressing any misunderstanding regarding the ultimately agreed upon requirements for travel into Northern Ireland," he claims.

This will include making sure that foreign visitors to the island of Ireland who enter through the Republic of Ireland are informed of the ETA requirements that apply to them if they want to cross the border.

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