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Paul Johnston

Ambassador to Ireland

23rd November 2020 Dublin, Ireland

UK Transition Period: A message for British Citizens living in Ireland

The Transition Period following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU ends on 31 December 2020. The UK and Irish governments both want to make sure any changes impact on you as little as possible. But there will be certain changes for which it is important to be prepared. Therefore, as we approach the end of the year, I want to explain what this means for you and your family, and to summarise the key things that you need to be aware of.

The 2019 Withdrawal Agreement between the UK and EU protects the rights of British citizens living in the EU broadly as they are now. And as a British citizen living in Ireland, many of your rights are additionally protected under the Common Travel Area (CTA).

This unique and longstanding arrangement pre-dates the UK’s (and Ireland’s) entry into the EU. Our two governments signed an agreement in 2019 that reaffirmed our commitment to the CTA, which will continue in all circumstances, i.e. whether or not the EU and UK reach a further agreement before the end of the Transition Period.

This means that you will still be able to travel freely between Ireland and the UK, and to live, work, study and vote (in certain elections) in Ireland, as well as to access social welfare benefits and health services on the same basis as Irish citizens, just as you can now.

But the CTA does not cover every aspect of life. There may be some actions you need to take, in particular concerning your driving licence, passport, and professional qualifications. Also, if you have any non-EEA family members or dependants living with you, there may also be some further actions they will need to take.

These changes will take place regardless of the outcome of the negotiations, i.e. with or without a further UK/EU agreement. Therefore it’s really important that you read the information below, and take action now, if you need to.


1. Exchange your UK driving licence for an Irish one
If you are resident in Ireland your UK driving licence, including NI licences, will no longer be valid after 31 December, though visitors to Ireland will be able to continue using their UK licence as now.

Therefore if you live in Ireland and use your UK driving licence, you should exchange it for an Irish one before 31 December. You can find all the information you need on how to do this at www.gov.uk/guidance/living-in-ireland. The Irish National Driver Licence Service have recently launched a fully online service.

2. Check your passport validity
Your travel rights for Ireland will be preserved under the Common Travel Area and there will be no changes to the rules on travel between the UK and Ireland after the end of the transition period. But from 1 January 2021, as a British passport holder you must have at least 6 months left on an adult or child passport to travel from Ireland to most other countries in Europe. Check your passport validity online now at: www.gov.uk/checkpassport. 

3. Check your qualifications are recognised
If you hold a UK qualification in a regulated profession in Ireland you should confirm recognition of your professional qualifications with your regulator before 31 December.

4. Check the arrangements for non- EEA family members and dependents.
Arrangements are being put in place by the Irish Immigration Service for non-EEA family members and/or dependants of UK nationals who are currently resident in Ireland exercising their EU Treaty Rights under the EU Free Movement Directive. This will involve an exchange of your family member/dependent’s current valid Irish Resident Permit Card with an equivalent card.

A separate scheme will be in place for non-EEA family members and dependents who intend on arriving in Ireland with their UK national family member from 1 January 2021. You can find more detail on both schemes at www.justice.ie or www.inis.gov.ie.

Information about UK State Pensions and UK benefits
The UK and Irish governments have a bilateral agreement to ensure social security rights, including access to pensions and social insurance benefits, will continue as now. This agreement means that there will be no change to the payment of your UK State Pension in Ireland. UK State Pensions will continue to be paid as they are now, including upratings.

If you are living in or working in Ireland, working in both the UK and Ireland, or working across the border, you are subject to only one state’s social security legislation at a time. This means you can access most social security benefits from that state, regardless of where you are living. You also have the right to access social security benefits on the same basis as citizens of the state in which you are living.

For more information about what the end of the UK Transition Period means for UK State Pensions and UK benefits, visit: www.gov.uk/benefits-in-eu-2021.

More information and updates
There is a lot of other information available online, which I hope should answer any other questions you may have, and I would encourage you to sign up for updates to our Living in Ireland guide.

We will continue to highlight information on the Embassy’s Twitter account @BritEmbDublin and we will also continue to use our Facebook page @BritishEmbassyDublin, which I hope can also offer you a chance to ask any other questions you have may have.

Paul Johnston
British Ambassador to Ireland

About Paul Johnston

Paul Johnston joined the UK Civil Service in 1990, working for the Ministry of Defence initially. He has served in Paris and New York and has also had a wide…

Paul Johnston joined the UK Civil Service in 1990, working for the Ministry of Defence initially.

He has served in Paris and New York and has also had a wide range of political and security roles in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London. Paul joined the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 1993 as Desk Officer for Bosnia. As part of this role he was also Private Secretary to EU negotiator Lord Owen and his representative on Bosnia Contact Group.

His first foreign posting was to Paris in 1995-99 as Second Secretary Political. He was Private Secretary to the Ambassador and latterly part of the UK delegation to the Kosovo Rambouillet negotiations. Then he returned to London as Head of the Kosovo Policy Team, leading work on post-conflict policy in the EU, NATO, UN and G8.

Before his second overseas posting to New York in 2005, Paul held a variety of other EU policy and security appointments in London, such as Head of European Defence Section between 2000-01 and Head of Security Policy Department between 2002-04.

As Head of the Political Section in UKMIS New York, he advised on major policy issues for the UK on the Security Council and the UN World Summit, including the UK EU Presidency in 2005.

Paul returned to London in 2008 as Director, International Security for the FCO. He was responsible for policy on UN, NATO, European Security, arms control and disarmament, human rights and good governance.

Paul was British Ambassador to Sweden from August 2011 to August 2015 and then was Deputy Permanent Representative to NATO.

He was UK Ambassador to the EU for Political and Security affairs from 2017 to January 2020 and became Ambassador to Ireland in September 2020.