Coronavirus (COVID-19): access to government services

This page contains information on government services which may be affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) or ones that have put in place precautionary measures.

Angling

The Public Angling Estate is open except for Portavoe Reservoir. For the latest information visit Angling news and events.

Benefits

Updates on jobs and benefits services, including job seekers allowance, Universal Credit and Personal Independence Payment can be found at:

Bin hygiene

Everyone has a part to play in keeping waste collections running. Find out about what steps you can take to help reduce the potential for cross-contamination. 

Bus and train services 

Reduced bus and train services have been introduced. Updates on new timetables, journey planners and other useful information about public transport can be found at: Translink COVID-19 updates.

Free travel for Health and Social Care workers

Health and Social Care (HSC) workers can travel free on public transport services, while the fight against coronavirus (COVID-19) continues. HSC Trust workers must show their work pass to Translink staff to get free travel. They can also travel free on the Strangford ferry.

Anyone working in the private health care sector, such as care homes, will get free travel by showing photographic ID and a letter signed by their employer. This letter will be made available from the Department of Health.

Careers Service

Careers advice is still available from the Careers Service by phone, email and webchat.   Support is also provided via the careers software tools

Carrier bag levy

There will be no levy applicable to carrier bags supplied by retailers to deliver groceries directly via home delivery services. 

COVID-19 Charities Fund

The COVID-19 Charities Fund is reopening for applications for a three week period from 3 August 2020 closing on 21 August 2020

The funding programme will provide financial support to charities which have lost income due to the impact of COVID-19 and are unable to cover unavoidable costs until 30 September 2020.

Further information is available on the Department for Communities website

Child Maintenance Services

The Child Maintenance Service (CMS) is delivering its essential services. However, reduced staffing levels may mean that the service will not be able to put child maintenance arrangements in place as quickly as usual, and may not be able to pursue missed payments.

Community transport 

Disability Action Transport Services have resumed passenger transport activities.

Council services

Some local council services, including the collection of household waste, have been adjusted. There is also information about how to dispose of personal waste (for example, tissues) if you have tested positive for or think you might have COVID-19.

Courts and tribunals operations

Advice and guidance for all courts and tribunals users during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. 

Criminal record checks (AccessNI)

Organisations applying for criminal record checks specifically for potential healthcare workers/ employees who are urgently required to help deal with the COVID-19 crisis can apply for an AccessNI barred list check to enable individuals to start work quickly.

Guidance in relation to safeguarding issues for community volunteers during the COVID-19 crisis is available on the Department of Justice website.

DAERA Direct offices

DAERA Direct offices are now closed to the public. All customers must do their business through DAERA online servicesor, if appropriate, through the Cattle Registration Telephony line (0300 200 7855). 

Documents can still be delivered to a DAERA Direct office and left in a designated post box at the entrance to the building.

To make sure the food supply chain is protected, current certification arrangements will continue to apply until further notice.

Domestic violence and abuse

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Driver and Vehicle Agency

Updates on the DVA's services, including the MOT, driver licensing and counter services can be found at:

Forests and country parks 

Toilet facilities are open from about 10.00 am to 5.00 pm daily at some forest parks and country parks. For the latest information visit Forest news and events.

Outdoor recreation

As restrictions are easing, many outdoor recreation sites and associated facilities across Northern Ireland are gradually reopening on a phased basis.

General Register Office for NI (GRONI)

The General Register Office for NI advises customers that the public search room at Colby House is closed until further notice.

You can apply for life event certificates by telephone or online:

    Health services

    Information on health services in Northern Ireland, specifically the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on them and initiatives being undertaken to support patients can be found at:

    Housing support

    Measures have been put in place to support social and private renters as well as those experiencing homelessness.

    An agreement is in place with all social housing landlords (Housing Executive and Housing Associations) that any social housing tenant facing difficulties paying rent due to the COVID-19 pandemic will not be evicted.

    More information can be found on the Department for Communities website.

    Urgent steps have been taken to put the Housing Executive rent increase, due 6 April, on hold until 1 October 2020.

    If you are facing eviction or are not safe where you live you can get help from the Housing Executive.

    Housing Rights   has information to help people who are concerned about their housing rights and options as a result of the Covid-19 emergency. This includes information to help homeless people, private tenants, social tenants, homeowners, students and landlords.  Information is available in other languages.

    COVID-19 Guidance for Private Rented Sector Landlords and Tenants is available to explain protection to private renters during the coronavirus crisis.  Guidance is also available to support tenants and landlords in the social housing rented sector.

    The housing market reopened on June 15 to allow house moves to take place.  This guidance document sets out how to make sure key activities surrounding the re-opening of the housing market happen safely.

    How to help

    You can look out for family, friends and neighbours. You can volunteer through the Volunteer Now #HelpEachOther campaign or register for paid work as part of the HSC Workforce Appeal. 

    Insolvency Service

     The Insolvency Service is closed to the public until further notice. 

    Labour Relations Agency

    The Labour Relations Agency has made a number of changes to the services it offers and offices are closed to visitors.

    Legal Services 

    Libraries

    All public libraries are currently closed.  All mobile library, Homecall services and library events are currently cancelled.

    Plans are in place to reopen libraries from 20 July onwards. For the latest information visit the Libraries NI website

    LPS Customer Information Centres closures

    LPS offices and Customer Information Centres remain closed, however most phone lines are now open. Urgent queries can be sent to LPS by email. Find out more at: further information, contact details and updates on LPS .

    Marriages and civil partnerships

    You can find information about marriages and civil partnerships during the coronavirus restrictions at these links:

    Museums and galleries

    National Museums NI has temporarily closed its four museums (Ulster Museum, Ulster Folk Museum, Ulster Transport Museum and Ulster American Folk Park). 

    For updates, visit the National Museums NI website.

    nidirect online account verification 

    Verification offices, used to prove your identity when creating an nidirect account to use some government services online, are closed until further notice.

    NI Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS)

    NI Prison Service updates

    NI Water 

    OSNI online map shop

    The OSNI map shop will be unable to dispatch paper maps at this time due to COVID-19 .

    Parking enforcement 

    Department for Infrastructure on-street parking enforcement and parking charges has started again in all towns and cities. It has also restarted in the Belfast Park and Ride car parks at Eastside, Northside and Great George's Street.

    Ask your local council for information about its car parks.

    The Parking Enforcement Processing Unit office is now open, however, there may be some delays in processing challenges/representations but this will not impact on your discount period.

      Registering births, deaths, marriages and civil partnerships

      Due to the ongoing restrictions as a result of coronavirus (COVID 19),  the registration service has had to make some changes, as the majority of registration offices are currently closed to the public. Find out more at:

      The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI)

      The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland is closed to the public until further notice.

      PRONI will not be responding to written enquiries or operating a fee-paying search and copying service.

      A range of digitised records, databases and other resources are available on PRONI's web pages.

      Rate bills

      Rate bills for domestic customers have issued.  Non-domestic customers will receive their rate bills in July after a four-month rate holiday. 

      Relaxation of EU and NI drivers' hours

      The Department for Infrastructure has conducted a specific review of the continuation of the relaxation of the enforcement of EU drivers’ and NI domestic drivers hours rules in Northern Ireland past 31 May.

      On the basis of the current evidence provided, and advice from the European Commission, it has been decided not to continue with either the current EU drivers’ hours relaxations or the NI domestic drivers’ hours relaxations after 11.59 pm on Sunday 31 May 2020.

      The relaxation remains in place until that time.

      Roads-related compensation claims

      The processing of roads-related compensation claims may be affected. To help during this period, either send claims online or download a form and send the completed form by email, along with any supporting documents, to claimsunit@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk.

      Stormont Estate 

      The Mo Mowlam Play Park and outdoor gym are both closed.

      The wider estate remains open for those who want to enjoy the health benefits of regular exercise. 

      Vehicle operator licensing

      Vehicle operator licensing will become a digital-only function during the contingency arrangements associated with COVID-19. As such, the directions should be as follows:

      To apply for a new operator’s licence:

      To make changes to an existing licence:

      For urgent queries:

      Give details of your query and provide a contact telephone number.

      Where an operator cannot use email, for any reason, they should contact TRU (Transport Regulation Unit):

      • phone: 028 9054 1410

       

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        What to do next

        Comments or queries about angling can be emailed to anglingcorrespondence@daera-ni.gov.uk 

        What to do next

        If you have a comment or query about benefits, you will need to contact the government department or agency which handles that benefit.  Contacts for common benefits are listed below.

        Carer's Allowance

        Call 0800 587 0912
        Email 
        dcs.incomingpostteamdhc2@nissa.gsi.gov.uk

        Discretionary support / Short-term benefit advance

        Call 0800 587 2750 
        Email 
        customerservice.unit@communities-ni.gov.uk

        Disability Living Allowance

        Call 0800 587 0912 
        Email dcs.incomingpostteamdhc2@nissa.gsi.gov.uk

        Employment and Support Allowance

        Call 0800 587 1377

        Jobseeker’s Allowance

        Contact your local Jobs & Benefits office

        Personal Independence Payment

        Call 0800 587 0932

        If your query is about another benefit, select ‘Other’ from the drop-down menu above.

        What to do next

        Comments or queries about the Blue Badge scheme can be emailed to bluebadges@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk or you can also call 0300 200 7818.

        What to do next

        For queries or advice about careers, contact the Careers Service.

        What to do next

        For queries or advice about Child Maintenance, contact the Child Maintenance Service.

        What to do next

        For queries or advice about claiming compensation due to a road problem, contact DFI Roads claim unit.

        What to do next

        For queries or advice about criminal record checks, email ani@accessni.gov.uk

        What to do next

        Application and payment queries can be emailed to ema_ni@slc.co.uk

        What to do next

        For queries or advice about employment rights, contact the Labour Relations Agency.

        What to do next

        For queries or advice about birth, death, marriage and civil partnership certificates and research, contact the General Register Office Northern Ireland (GRONI) by email gro_nisra@finance-ni.gov.uk

        What to do next

        For queries about:

        If your query is about another topic, select ‘Other’ from the drop-down menu above.

        What to do next

        For queries or advice about passports, contact HM Passport Office.

        What to do next

        For queries or advice about Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs), including parking tickets and bus lane PCNs, email dcu@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk

        What to do next

        For queries or advice about pensions, contact the Northern Ireland Pension Centre.

        What to do next

        If you wish to report a problem with a road or street you can do so online in this section.

        If you wish to check on a problem or fault you have already reported, contact DfI Roads.

        What to do next

        For queries or advice about historical, social or cultural records relating to Northern Ireland, use the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) enquiry service.

        What to do next

        For queries or advice about rates, email:
        rating@lpsni.gov.uk

        For queries or advice about property valuation, email:
        valuation@lpsni.gov.uk

        For queries or advice about land registry, email:
        CustomerInformation.LandRegistration@finance-ni.gov.uk

        For mapping queries, email:
        Mapping.Helpdesk@finance-ni.gov.uk

        What to do next

        For queries or advice about  60+ and Senior Citizen SmartPasses (which can be used to get concessionary travel on public transport), contact Smartpass - Translink.