Brexit and its impact on Irish Citizens:

I have already written about Brexit and how it impacts on British Citizens, and separately how it impacts on European Citizens. Here I consider the particular implications for Irish Citizens.

Tá mé an-sásta ag teagmhail tríd Gaeilge más fearr leat? Seol ríomhphost chugam.

Whilst Irish Citizens are European Citizens, they have special and additional rights because of the pre-existing Common Travel Area agreement and subsequent memorandum of understanding between the two states. In addition, people living in Northern Ireland, under the Good Friday agreement arrangements, are guaranteed citizenship of either or both Ireland or the United Kingdom, and rights to identify with, each state. This piece is intended to apply to Irish Citizens living in Britain, and looks at what might change as a result of Brexit.

Passport Services:

The Irish government has temporarily suspended its passport services because of the Covid level 5 measures – including those offered to people living in Britain through the Irish Embassy. Passport online is still available, and applications will be processed as soon as services resume. The emergency travel service is still available via webchat at or email the London passport office on For out of hours emergency travel you can also phone 0207 23 52 171 – leaving a message asking to speak to the duty officer.

Travel between Britain and Ireland:

“Under the Common Travel Area agreement, Irish and British citizens will continue to move freely and reside in either jurisdiction and enjoy associated rights and entitlements” (quoting the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs – An Roinn Gnóthaí Eachtracha)

Don’t forget travel is currently restricted because of Covid – and you should check the latest restrictions on the website.

Residence and daily life:

The right of Irish citizens to live and work in the United Kingdom remains unchanged. Irish nationals can live in the UK freely, and there is no need to do anything. Irish nationals continue to have access to all health, and social security benefits – in the same way as a British national has. This is a reciprocal arrangement, meaning that British Citizens have the same rights in Ireland. Irish citizens have a right to vote and take part in all elections in the UK; as do UK Citizens in Ireland – other than in European or Presidential elections.

Irish students will continue to be able to study in the UK (with fees being on the same basis as UK Citizens). Scotland is introducing fees of £9,250 for Irish students studying in Scotland.

Professional qualifications awarded in the UK will no longer be recognised automatically in Ireland. “The Government of Ireland is encouraging regulatory authorities … to engage with their counterparts in the UK in order to manage the process of continued recognition of UK qualifications.” (DFA). If this affects you, you should contact your professional body for more advice. 

EU Settled Status:

The UK Home Office has indicated that Irish citizens will not need to register or take any action under the Settled Status scheme. They will continue to hold their Common Travel Area rights which are not reliant on EU membership. However, as EU citizens, Irish citizens – if they so wish – may apply under the Settled Status scheme.

European Health Insurance Card: 

There had been some doubt as to how this scheme would apply to Irish Citizens resident in the UK. This has been resolved and Irish nationals can apply for a UK issued Global Health Insurance Card. For more information go to and search for ‘Global Health Insurance Card’.

Travel within Europe:

Irish Citizens will continue to be able to use the EU Blue Channel when travelling into Europe and within Europe.

Duty Free:

Duty free allowances for travel between the UK and Ireland (But not Northern Ireland – which essentially stays in the EU single market) are as follows:

When travelling to the UK from Ireland:

Alcohol - 42 litres of beer, 18 litres of still wine, 4 litres of spirits or 9 litres of sparkling wine, fortified wine or any alcoholic beverage less than 22% ABV.

Tobacco - 200 Cigarettes or 100 cigarillos or 50 cigars or 250g tobacco or 200 sticks of tobacco for heating or any proportional combination of the above.

From the UK back into Ireland: 

Alcohol - 16 litres of beer, 4 litres of still wine, 1 litre of spirits or 2 litres of sparkling wine, fortified wine or any alcoholic beverage less than 22% ABV.

Tobacco - 200 cigarettes or 100 cigarillos or 50 cigars or 250g tobacco or any proportional combination of the above.

Telephone roaming:

The protections around phone roaming have ceased – but the UK phone providers have said that it is their intention to honour this agreement – at least for the time being.


The UK Government has confirmed that it will continue to recognise EU driving licences in the UK following the end of the transition period (31 December 2020). This means that you do not have to exchange your Irish driver’s licence for a UK licence.

Notwithstanding the above, you should be aware that if you were 67 years of age or older when you became resident in the UK, then you can only continue to drive on your EU licence for 3 years. Following the end of this 3-year period, you will be required to exchange your EU licence for a UK licence.

If you were younger than 67 years of age when you became resident in the UK, you can continue to drive on your EU licence until you reach the age of 70.

If you have a UK driving licence you will still be able to drive in Ireland on holidays but make sure you have your UK licence with you. An International Driver’s Permit (available from Post Offices) is not needed for Ireland although it may be required by some car hire companies.

If normally resident in Ireland and holder of a UK licence, you must apply to exchange this for an Irish licence or apply for an Irish driving licence. More information is available at

UK registered vehicles (including vehicles from Northern Ireland) will require a Green Card when being driven in Ireland and other EU Member States. A Green Card is a document that proves you have motor insurance cover when driving in another jurisdiction and can be provided by your insurer.

There is lots of extra information about these changes at:


Tom Togher

February 2021.