The UK Plans Travel Authorization for EU Citizens Visiting Northern Ireland

December 10, 2021
K plans travel authorization for EU citizens

The UK plans travel authorization for EU citizens visiting Northern Ireland. Great Britain’s new system will require travel authorization to cross borders between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

The necessity would apply to everyone, except for Irish and British nationals. European Union residents would likewise be affected by the new rule that looks like the United States’ ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) and EU’s ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorization System.

Not Everyone Is Happy About the New System

The Guardian reads that the system is planned for 2025. Immigration Minister Kevin Foster commented on the development of the system during a meeting with the House of Commons Northern Ireland. He said the travel authorization would be a certificate that people can get online with a few clicks. He also said the papers would not be checked at the UK border.

“We don’t operate routine immigration controls through the common travel area,” he said.

Ireland, however, reacted skeptically with regards to the planned system. Ireland thinks the system is a “hardening of the border” that the UK and EU have attempted to avoid since Brexit negotiations.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, the Minister for Enterprise, Trade, and Employment in Ireland’s government, thinks the idea is concerning, though it “doesn’t come as a huge surprise.”

Varadkar said, “We’re certainly going to communicate to our UK counterparts our concerns and our objections to this measure. Unfortunately, it doesn’t come as a huge surprise.”

Headwind Also from the House of Commons

Northern Ireland politicians at the UK’s House of Commons have also objected that the UK plans travel authorization for EU citizens visiting Northern Ireland. 

Stephen Farry, a Member of the UK Parliament, said the scheme would create “new bureaucracy” and “legal uncertainty” for thousands of people.

British politicians have debated on an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) many times since Brexit was discussed. In May 2021, the UK was planning to implement the system to tighten border checks.

The UK’s Home Secretary Priti Patel said at that time, “We will have a far clearer picture of who is here and whether they should be, and we will act if they are not.”

The European Union is ready to start ETIAS, a similar system, in 2022. ETIAS is a travel authorization that third-country nationals under the Schengen visa-free scheme, including British citizens, must get to visit the Schengen territory.

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