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With the Common Travel Area forming a partially open-border zone, what should a non-EU/Schengen citizen travelling within it keep in mind?

For example, do passports get checked, and perhaps stamped, at internal CTA borders?

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Basic facts:

The Common Travel Area (henceforth CTA) consists of the UK, Guernsey, Jersey, the Isle of Man and Ireland.

Between the UK, Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man, the border is fully open with no immigration checks. In addition, Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man apply UK entry regulations and issue UK entry stamps in passports. Consequently, the UK is henceforth taken to include these territories.

With Ireland the situation becomes more complicated, as Ireland applies separate entry regulations and, in addition, is not fully compliant with the open-borders concept of the CTA.

Notably, non-EU/Schengen citizens are to receive an Irish entry stamp, even if arriving from the UK. For visa-free nationals, this lets them stay in Ireland for max 3 months, while for Irish visa holders the conditions of the visa apply.

On the contrary, those arriving in the UK from Ireland are not normally checked and are not to receive a UK entry stamp. Instead, non-visa nationals who entered the CTA through Ireland are allowed to stay in the whole CTA (incl. the UK) for the period authorised on entry to Ireland (usually 3 months), while UK visa holders are subject to the conditions of the visa regarding their stay in the UK.

Travel Ireland-UK

If entering the CTA through Ireland, non-EU/Schengen citizens receive an Irish entry stamp. If also holding a UK visa (or being exempt) they can then continue on to the UK without any formalities. Though spot checks happen at UK air/seaports and the Irish land border, no UK entry stamp is issued, nor is one required.

Per the relevant UK government policy Common Travel Area, Version 8.0, 2021-01-05 (PDF), most visa-free nationals for the UK are issued a (fresh) 6-month deemed leave when entering the UK from Ireland. Deemed leave means the entry isn't recorded and the conditions are to be respected on an honour-system basis. For various special cases, refer to the flowchart on page 62 of the linked document.

Travel UK-Ireland

By air

At Irish airports, all international arrivals will clear Irish border control, so passengers arriving from the UK needing an entry stamp will receive one with no hassle.

By sea

When arriving by sea from the UK, border checks are often carried out, but not universally. If there isn't a check, pedestrians and car passengers should seek out border control (Garda) to receive an entry stamp. Bus passengers should contact border control in advance (for Dublin, +353 166 691 00; for Rosslare, +353 539 133 204), tell them what bus and ferry you'll be on and that you need an entry stamp.

By land from Northern Ireland

As stated on the INIS website, non-EU/Schengen citizens entering Ireland via the land border have to visit the INIS (in Dublin) or local Garda station (elsewhere) as soon as possible to obtain an entry stamp. This is necessary even if checked at the land border, unless checked right by a Garda station.

It is not known to the undersigned whether all Garda stations handle foreign entrants, or only dedicated ones - this is being verified with the Garda.

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  • 3
    What the consequences are of not visiting a Garda station on uk-ireland land crossing would be an interesting addendum. – Roddy of the Frozen Peas May 17 '19 at 1:38
  • @RoddyoftheFrozenPeas If checked inside the country, you could be considered to be illegally in the country. – Crazydre May 17 '19 at 1:39
  • 6
    Didn't realize the CTA is just as disfunctional as the open border between Russia and Belarus. Requiring tourists to go to some immigration office after crossing the land border is sheer lunacy. – JonathanReez May 17 '19 at 15:25
  • 2
    @JonathanReez Only when entering Ireland, and regarding Belarus-Russia, only when entering Belarus AFAIK (whereas entering Russia that way is prohibited altogether) – Crazydre May 17 '19 at 16:47
  • 1
    @MarkJohnson Pardon me, I now see you're right. Damn text I tell you! THat said, it doesn't clearly say you're granted a new three months, but rather ambiguously "shall not be more than three months from the date on which he entered the United Kingdom". I'll enquire again with the Home Office (they previously told me the clock starts from the entry to Ireland except for residents of Ireland) – Crazydre Mar 15 '20 at 10:34
1

Immigration (Control of Entry through the Republic of Ireland) Order 1972

  • with the 1979, 1980, 1982, 1985, 2000 and 2014 amendments to the 1972 Order
    • which should reflect the present day (2020-11-16) text (I could find no consolidated version)

It should be assumed that there will soon be a new amendment, effective 2021, where the EU references will be removed

  • then Article 4 (4)(a) will apply for non-Irish EU Citizens

Update 2021-03-11:

  • no new amendment found (2014 version seems to be still valid)
  • changes in Common Travel Area, Version 8.0, 2021-01-05 (PDF)
    • non-Irish EU Citizens are no longer listed as exception (page 49 of PDF)
    • Deemed leave under Article 4 (page 50 of PDF)

    Under Article 4 of the 1972 Order, a person is usually treated as having a specific period of permission to enter the UK, starting from the date they entered the UK evidenced by their ticket or boarding pass for example.
    ...

    • Those entering the UK before 1 January 2021 are entitled to three months of deemed leave.
    • Those entering the UK from 1 January 2021 are entitled to six months of deemed leave, or two months of deemed leave where they have previously visited the UK on the basis of deemed leave (including before 1 January 2021) and have not left the CTA in the meantime.
    • flow chart: Entry to the UK through Ireland (page 62 of PDF)

Article 4
(1) Subject to paragraph (2), this Article applies to any person who is not partial and is not a citizen of the Republic of Ireland an EEA national, or a person who is entitled to enter or remain in the United Kingdom by virtue of an enforceable EU right or any provision made under section 2(2) of the European Communities Act 1972, and who enters the United Kingdom on a local journey from the Republic of Ireland after having entered that Republic

  • (a) on coming from a place outside the common travel area; or
  • (b) after leaving the United Kingdom whilst having a limited leave to enter or remain there which has since expired.

(2) This Article shall not apply to any person who requires leave to enter the United Kingdom by virtue of Article 3 or section 9(4) of the Act.

(3) A person to whom this Article applies by virtue only of paragraph (1)(a) shall, unless he is a visa national who has a visa containing the words “short visit” without a valid visa for entry to the United Kingdom, who is also a visa national to whom article 3A applies, be subject to the restriction and to the condition set out in paragraph (4).
(4) The restriction and the condition referred to in paragraph (3) are

  • (a) the period for which he may remain in the United Kingdom shall not be more than three months from the date on which he entered the United Kingdom;
  • (b) unless he is a national of a state which is a member of the European Union, he shall not engage in any occupation for reward or any employment.
  • (c) unless he is a national of a state which is a member of the European Union other than Greece, Portugal or Spain, he shall not engage in any employment.

(5) In relation to a person who is a visa national and has a visa containing the words “short visit” the restriction and the conditions set out in paragraph (6) shall have effect instead of the provisions contained in paragraph (4).

(6) The restriction and the conditions referred to in paragraph (5) are

  • (a) the period for which he may remain in the United Kingdom shall not be more than one month from the date on which he entered the United Kingdom;
  • (b) he shall not engage in any occupation for reward or any employment; and
  • (c) he shall, unless he is under the age of 16 years, be required to register with the police.

(6A) In relation to a person who is a visa national without a valid visa for entry to the United Kingdom and who is also a visa national to whom article 3A applies, the restriction and condition in paragraph (6B) apply instead of the provisions contained in paragraph (4).

(6B) The restriction and condition referred to in paragraph (6A) are

  • (a) the period for which the visa national may remain in the United Kingdom ends on the date of the expiry of the permission to land or to be in the Republic of Ireland mentioned in article 3A(d);
  • (b) the person shall not engage in any occupation for reward or any employment.

(7) The preceding provisions of this Article shall have effect in relation to a person to whom this Article applies by virtue of sub-paragraph (b) of paragraph (1) (whether or not he is also a person to whom this Article applies by virtue of sub-paragraph (a) thereof) as they have effect in relation to a person to whom this Article applies by virtue only of the said sub-paragraph (a), but as if for the references in paragraphs (4) and (6) to three months and one month respectively there were substituted a reference to seven days.
(8) The restriction and condition mentioned in paragraphs (4) and (6B) shall cease to apply to a person if that person becomes entitled to enter or remain in the United Kingdom by virtue of an enforceable EU right or of any provision made under section 2(2) of the European Communities Act 1972.
...
EXPLANATORY NOTE (Amendment) Order 2014
...
Article 3(6), (8), (9) and (13) makes amendments in respect of EEA nationals and those exercising EU rights to ensure they do not fall within the provisions in article 4 of the 1972 Order which confer a period of permission to remain in the United Kingdom.
...


Sources:

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  • (+1) I'll make sure to stay up to date post-Brexit, and amend my answer if need be – Crazydre Nov 16 '20 at 12:10
  • @Crazydre And I think that there are 2 amendments missing that I couldn't find. (adding Spain and Portugal ; renaming EEC to European Union) – Mark Johnson Nov 16 '20 at 12:19

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