Coronavirus (COVID-19): travel within Common Travel Area

This page provides guidance on travel within the Common Travel Area. You should travel only if it is absolutely necessary and if you have any symptoms of coronavirus you should not travel.

The information on this page is specific to travel within the UK and Republic of Ireland. Information on international travel is available on the following page: Coronavirus (COVID-19): travel advice

Essential travel

Essential travel includes but is not restricted to:

  • returning home, if you are away from your permanent place of residence
  • work, where you cannot work from home
  • accessing health and social care services
  • accessing education services which does not require an overnight stay (see further guidance on education below)
  • accessing critical services including childcare or services to victims
  • fulfilling essential caring responsibilities
  • buying essential goods or services within your local area
  • attending the care and exercise of an animal, or veterinary services
  • fulfilling a legal obligation, including attending court or satisfying bail conditions, or participating in legal proceedings
  • to provide emergency response services

Travelling from Great Britain, Republic of Ireland, Isle of Man or Channel Islands (the Common Travel Area)

You should not travel in or out of Northern Ireland except where it is essential to do so.  Guidance on what is essential is listed above.

If you are arriving into Northern Ireland from within the Common Travel Area and you plan to remain here for at least 24 hours, you must self-isolate upon arrival for 10 days in the same way as international arrivals. 

You should follow the guidance for self-isolation, which includes a list of those who are exempt from self-isolation due to the nature of their work.

A number of exemptions within the international travel regulations are suspended from 4.00 am on 18 January.

These continue to apply to those travelling within the common travel area, provided they have been in the CTA  for at least 14 days. These are as follows:

  • a person engaged in film, advertising production or high-end TV production
  • a person engaged in television production
  • a person who is undertaking activities necessary for the participation of the organisation they represent in the fourth National Lottery Licence Competition, during such activities and any necessary ancillary travel
  • a journalist where they have travelled from or to Northern Ireland in the course of their work

People who routinely cross the border (from either Great Britain or the Republic of Ireland) for essential purposes are not subject to these requirements.

If you are arriving into Northern Ireland from within the common travel area to provide health or social care, or to provide an emergency service, you are not subject to these requirements. However you should consult with your employer before travelling or attending work, who will then advise you on the best course of action.

Your household members do not need to self-isolate with you, but they must take extra care to follow the guidance on social distancing, hand hygiene and respiratory hygiene. You are permitted to leave self-isolation in order to leave Northern Ireland, should your intended stay be shorter than 10 days.

If you are travelling to or from Northern Ireland you are also subject to the rules of where you are travelling to and from. Links to the local guidance in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland are available below:

Accessing education

Where daily cross border travel is required to access education, this is considered essential and does not require self-isolation.

However, where students are travelling between places of residence, such as returning home from university accommodation, they should self-isolate upon their return to Northern Ireland for 10 days.

Students are advised to minimise their movements between residences as far as possible, and where learning is delivered remotely to access this from one location for as long as is feasible.  

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