Officials from the UK and Ireland are discussing potential changes to the UK’s new, post-Brexit Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) system.
Before entering the United Kingdom, non-British and non-Irish citizens must have been granted an ETA permit.
According to the Common Travel Area (CTA), a long-standing migratory agreement between the United Kingdom and Ireland, Irish people do not require an ETA.
Currently, lawful residents of Ireland who are not Irish citizens are required to have an ETA to cross into Northern Ireland. The discussions are focused on exempting this set of individuals.
Even for a brief visit, a lawful Irish resident, such as someone with Italian nationality, would need an ETA to cross the border into Northern Ireland.
The UK immigration minister stated in a letter to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee that the government wants to “ensure the realities of daily cross-border travel are acknowledged in the ETA scheme”.Robert Jenrick noted that there have been extensive discussions over “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.”
Northern Ireland’s tourism industry has also sought exclusions from the ETA due to concerns about the impact on overseas travellers who want to travel from Dublin to Northern Ireland.
The travel permit will have an impact on Northern Ireland hotels, according to the head of tourism.
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Tourism Ireland’s chief executive Niall Gibbons stated, “The best outcome is that it doesn’t apply to Northern Ireland but at a minimum you want some kind of waiver allowable for a certain number of days.”
However, Mr. Jenrick’s letter suggests that a public education campaign, not a waiver, is the government’s preferred method. “A clear communications strategy will be key to tackling any misunderstanding about the final agreed requirements for travel into Northern Ireland. This will include ensuring that foreign nationals visiting the island of Ireland, who enter via the Republic of Ireland, are aware of the ETA requirements affecting them if they wish to cross the border.”