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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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 is not fully compliant with the open-borders concept of the CTA.
Specifically, 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.
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.
On the downside, this means the time those without a UK visa are allowed in Ireland also includes the rest of the CTA. For travellers visa-exempt for both the UK and Ireland, the visa exemption is 6 months in the UK but only 3 months in Ireland, meaning if e.g. a US-citizen visitor enters the CTA through Ireland, they'll only be allowed 3 months in the whole CTA. See page 42 of the official Common Travel Area guide for reference.
Legal residents of Ireland are conferred a 3-month deemed leave when entering the UK from Ireland.
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.
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 the INIS (in Dublin) or Garda (in Rosslare) to receive an entry stamp. If travelling by bus, you should contact border control in advance (for Dublin, BMU@Justice.ie; for Rosslare, +353 539 133 204), inform them of what bus 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.
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.
It should be assumed that there will soon be a new amendment, effective 2021, where the EU references will be removed
(1) Subject to paragraph (2), this Article applies to any person who is not partial and is not
a citizen of the Republic of Irelandan 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;
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.
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 reference
sin paragraphs (4) and (6)to three months and one month respectivelythere 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.