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

This page provides guidance on travel within the Common Travel Area (United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, Isle of Man and Channel Islands). You should travel only if it is essential. If you have any symptoms of coronavirus you must not travel.

Essential travel within the Common Travel Area

Essential travel within the Common Travel Area 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, where you live in counties that border the Republic of Ireland
  • attending the care and exercise of an animal, or veterinary services, where you live in counties that border the Republic of Ireland
  • fulfilling a legal obligation, including attending court or satisfying bail conditions, or participating in legal proceedings
  • to provide emergency response services
  • to attend a funeral of a member of your household or close family member

Travelling from within 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 travel 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, public health advice is that you should self-isolate upon arrival for 10 days, unless you are exempt. Further information on exemptions is available below.

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.

If you are travelling from Northern Ireland to other regions of the Common Travel Area you are also subject to the rules of where you are travelling to. Links to guidance for England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales are below:

Leaving self-isolation

You are permitted to leave self-isolation for a limited number of reasons. Information on permitted reasons for leaving self-isolation is available at: 

Sector specific exemptions

People who routinely travel to Northern Ireland  from Great Britain or the Republic of Ireland, for essential purposes, as outlined above, are not subject to the self-isolation 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 may not be subject to the self-isolation requirements. However you should consult with your employer before travelling or attending work, who will then advise you on the best course of action. A risk assessment should be carried out by the employer to determine self-isolation and testing requirements.

People travelling within the Common Travel Area may also be exempt from self-isolation due to the job they do. Information on sector specific exemptions is available at:

Accessing education

Where daily cross border travel is required to access education, this is considered essential and does not require self-isolation, however all social distancing measures should be strictly adhered to.

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 their term time residence and permanent residence 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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