Coronavirus (COVID-19: Travel within the Common Travel Area - sector exemptions

If you do a certain job, which requires you to travel or return to Northern Ireland from within the Common Travel Area, you may qualify for an exemption from one or more of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) related travel restrictions.

Jobs that qualify for exemptions

This guidance summarises:

  • the list of jobs that qualify for exemptions
  • which restrictions apply
  • conditions that need to be met or evidence that needs to be provided

Exempt from self-isolation

Diplomatic missions and conferences

Applies to members of diplomatic missions and consular posts in the UK, officers, servants and their families or dependents.

Border security duties – UK officials and contractors

Applies to UK officials and contractors required to work on essential border security duties, who are:

  • required to carry out essential government work related to the UK border in the UK during the period which, but for this exemption, you would need to self-isolate
  • carrying out essential government work related to the UK border outside of the UK but required to come back to the UK temporarily before departing the UK to again carry out essential government work related to the border

You should use your official photo identification to show your status.

Defence personnel, visiting forces and government contractors

Applies to defence personnel, visiting forces and government contractors who the Ministry of Defence has confirmed are required to deliver essential defence activities.

You will need to request a letter from the Ministry of Defence confirming you are exempt to show at border control.

Exempt from self-isolation to conduct specific activities

If you carry out the activities listed below you must self-isolate on arrival to Northern Ireland.

However you can leave self-isolation to conduct the specific exempt activity or when travelling directly to and from the activity. You must self-isolate at all other times during your stay.

Electronic communications networks and BBC broadcasting transmission network and services

Applies to people engaged in urgent or essential work on electronic communications network, including BBC broadcasting transmission network and services.

You'll need to show a letter from your company which includes:

  • your personal details, such as name and address
  • contact details for your employer
  • what work you’ll be doing

If your employer issued you with photo identification, you should bring this with you to the UK.

Clinical trials or studies

Applies to sponsors and essential people needed for clinical trials or studies.

You will need to show:

  • your staff pass or photo identification
  • confirmation from the trial sponsor including the date and location of the trial
  • what your involvement in the trial is, for example if you manage, coordinate or administrate trials or medical research

Data infrastructure maintenance

Applies to those involved in essential maintenance and repair of data infrastructure required to reduce and resolve outages, or in the provision of goods and services to support these activities.

The relevant UK government department must certify that the work you will be doing is necessary to facilitate essential government work or essential state business.

Downstream oil facility workers

Applies to workers with specialist technical skills required for essential or emergency works to ensure the continued safe and secure operations of a downstream oil facility that has a capacity in excess of 20,000 tonnes.

At the border, you will need to show a letter from your company which includes:

  • your personal details, such as name and address
  • contact details for your employer
  • what work you’ll be doing

If your employer issued you with photo identification, you should bring this with you to the UK.

Elite sportspersons

Applies to domestic elite sportspersons and essential operational or support staff returning from an elite sports event or training for the Olympic and Paralympic Games to continue their competition or training in Northern Ireland, or UK sportspersons who are based abroad returning for an elite sports event or training.

You may leave self-isolation to travel directly to or between the locations of elite sports events or training where you are carrying your duties as an elite sportsperson.

You should provide written evidence from a UK, Northern Irish or Irish national governing body for your sport confirming both your status as an elite sportsperson who has travelled overseas to take part in an elite sports event, and that you will be continuing those activities on your return, or your status as a UK elite sportsperson who is based abroad and is returning to take part in elite sport training or competition.

Flood and coastal erosion risk management

Applies to workers engaged in essential or emergency works on behalf of the Department for Infrastructure relating to flood and coastal erosion risk management.

You should show a letter from your company at the border which includes:

  • your personal details, such as name and address
  • contact details for your employer
  • detail of what work you’ll be doing and its location
  • contact details for the Department for Infrastructure, who you are completing work for

If your employer has issued you with photo identification, you should bring this with you to the UK.

IT and telecoms workers

Applies to information technology or telecommunications professionals whose expertise is required to provide an essential or emergency response to threats and incidents relating to the security of any network and information system and ensure the continued operation of any network and information system

You will need to show a letter from your company which includes:

  • your personal details, such as name and address
  • contact details for your employer
  • what work you’ll be doing

If your employer issued you with photo identification, you should bring this with you to the UK.

Medicines – human and veterinary

Applies to qualified and responsible people for human and veterinary medicines, clinical trials, clinical investigations, and human pharmacovigilance.

You will need to show:

  • your staff pass or photo identification
  • confirmation from the trial sponsor including
  • the date and location of the trial
  • what your involvement in the trial is, for example if you manage, coordinate or administrate trials or medical research

Network Rail workers

Applies to workers engaged in essential or emergency works to the rail network as part of a specialist team with or for Network Rail working either on automated ballast cleaning and track re-laying systems, or maintaining or commissioning industrial machinery for use on national rail infrastructure.

You should show a letter from your company which includes:

  • your personal details, such as name and address
  • contact details from your employer
  • what work you’ll be doing

If your employer issued you with photo identification (sentinel card), you should bring this with you to the UK.

Nuclear personnel    

Applies to nuclear personnel who are essential to the safe and secure operations of a licensed nuclear site, including nuclear emergency responders.

You'll need to show a letter from your company which includes:

  • your personal details, such as name and address
  • contact details for your employer
  • what work you’ll be doing

If your employer issued you with photo identification, you should bring this with you to the UK.

Offshore oil and gas

Applies to workers who have travelled to Northern Ireland for work to carry out:

  • activities on or in relation to an offshore installation
  • activities on or in relation to upstream petroleum infrastructure
  • critical safety work on an offshore installation or well being decommissioned or preserved pending demolition or reuse
  • activities for the provision of workers, goods, materials or equipment or other essential services required to support the safe operation of the activities referred to above

You'll need to show a letter from your company which includes:

  • your personal details, such as name and address
  • contact details for your employer
  • what work you’ll be doing

If your employer issued you with photo identification, you should bring this with you to the UK.

OPCW and IAEA inspectors

Applies to international nuclear safeguards and chemical industry inspectors, representing the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

You'll need to show a letter issued by the relevant department to your sponsoring organisation – either the IAEA or the OPCW.

If your organisation issues you with identification or travel documentation, you should bring this with you to the UK.

Quality assurance inspectors for human and veterinary medicines

Applies to quality assurance inspectors for human and veterinary medicines conducting quality assurance assessments or inspections for any category of medicine, medical product or substance of human origin.

If you’re conducting quality assurance assessments/ inspections for any category of medicine, medical product or substance of human origin, you will need to show:

  • your staff pass or photo identification
  • confirmation of the date and location of your quality assurance assessment or inspection

Specialist technical workers

Applies to workers with specialist technical skills required for essential or emergency work in:

  • sub-sea telecommunications infrastructure, including personnel who are engaged in or whose role directly supports the installation, maintenance or repair of subsea fibre optic telecommunications infrastructure
  • goods, with works or services including construction, commissioning, installation, maintenance, and repairs and safety checks to ensure the continued production, supply, movement, manufacture, storage or preservation of goods
  • waste, including construction, commissioning, installation, maintenance, repairs and safety checks or to fulfil contractual obligations or warranty specifications in, or in connection with, waste management facilities used for the management, sorting, treatment, recovery, or disposal of waste (including energy from waste)
  • power infrastructure to ensure the continued safe and secure operations of generating stations, gas or electricity transmission or distribution networks, electricity interconnectors, gas terminals or district or communal heat networks
  • space infrastructure to ensure continued safe and secure operations

You'll need to show a letter from your company which includes:

  • your personal details, such as name and address
  • contact details for your employer
  • contact details for the company you will be completing work for in the UK
  • what work you’ll be doing

If your employer issued you with photo identification, you should bring this with you to the UK.

Transporting human cells or blood

Applies those who have travelled to the UK for the purpose of transporting material which consists of, or includes, human cells or blood and which is to be used for the provision of healthcare by a healthcare provider.

You will need to show:

  • your staff pass or photo identification
  • confirmation from a healthcare provider explaining:
  • the address of where the material was or is to be collected from, and the date on which the material was or is to be collected
  • the address of where the material is to be transported to, the name of the healthcare provider that is to receive the material, and the date on which the material is to be delivered to the healthcare provider
  • what material you are or will be carrying
  • why you need to carry it

If you’re transporting a controlled drug, you will need to show a Home Office import licence.

Water supplies and sewerage services workers

Applies to workers engaged in essential or emergency works, related to water supplies and sewerage services.

Film, advertising production, TV or high-end TV production

Applies to a person engaged in film, advertising, television and high end TV production.

Journalist

Applies to a person who has travelled to Northern Ireland in the course of their work.

Coming to the UK to conduct specific activities

If you live in the UK and carry out the activities listed below, you do not need to self-isolate.

If you come to the UK to carry out these activities, you must self-isolate unless you are undertaking the exempt activity.

Aerospace engineers

Applies to specialist aerospace engineers, or specialist workers responsible for ensuring the safe operation of aircraft.

You'll need to show a letter from your company which includes:

  • your personal details, such as name and address
  • contact details for your employer
  • what work you’ll be doing

If your employer issued you with photo identification, you should bring this with you to the UK.

Aircraft pilots and crew

Applies to aircraft pilots and crew, including a flight navigator, flight engineer, flight radiotelephony operator, and training or safety personnel, where such crew have travelled to the UK in the course of their work.

If you travel in a part of the aircraft that is not accessible to passengers, for example, a fully enclosed cockpit, you also don’t need to complete the passenger locator form.

You should show a crew badge or ID.

Civil aviation inspectors

Applies to civil aviation inspectors engaged on inspection duties.

You should show your accreditation from appropriate authority in your home country. For example, the Transport Department or Civil Aviation Authority.

Drivers of goods vehicles

Applies to drivers of goods vehicles and other employees of community licence holders for the international carriage of goods.

You will need to show that your travel is part of your job, for example a letter from your employer, a consignment note or your operator’s licence.

Extradition

Applies to a person responsible for escorting someone sought for extradition or a representative of any territory travelling to the UK to take into custody a person pursuant to any provision of the Extradition Act 2003.

If you’re travelling to escort prisoners, you’ll receive a letter from HMPPS. This letter will include your unique ID number linked to your prison service warrant card. You should present this letter and your warrant card (which also includes your photograph) on arrival in the UK.

International prison escorts

Applies to a person designated by the relevant Ministers under section 5(3) of the Repatriation of Prisoners Act 1984.

If you’re travelling to escort prisoners, you’ll receive a letter from HMPPS. This letter will include your unique ID number linked to your prison service warrant card. You should present this letter and your warrant card (which also includes your photograph) on arrival in the UK.

Seamen and masters and inspectors and surveyors of ships

Applies if you travel in a part of the vessel that is not accessible to passengers or you travel on a vessel that does not carry passengers, for example, fishing boats, you also don’t need to complete the passenger locator form.

If you work on a ship, including fishermen, you should show a Seafarer’s Identification Document (SID) if you have one. If you don’t have a SID, you can show your joining papers, seafarer’s employment agreement or a seafarer’s discharge book (Continuous Certificate of Discharge). Alternatively, you could show a basic training certificate or declaration from the registered owners of the vessel that you are a crew member.

Exempt from self-isolation even when not performing the activity

If you carry out the activities listed below you are exempt from self-isolation even when not performing the activity.

Crown servants or government contractors

Applies to:

  • a Crown servant or government contractor who is required to carry out essential policing or essential government work in the UK
  • a person returning from conducting essential state business outside the UK
  • a person returning to the UK where this is necessary to facilitate the functioning of a UK diplomatic mission, consular post, military or other official posting
  • a person returning from undertaking essential or emergency work outside of the UK, which was necessary to facilitate essential government work or essential state business

The relevant department of the UK government will issue you with a letter certifying that you fall within the relevant category above. You should contact them directly for this and bring it with you to the UK.

Postal worker

Applies to postal workers involved in the transport of mail.

You'll need to show a letter from your company which includes:

  • your personal details, such as name and address
  • contact details for your employer
  • what work you’ll be doing

If your employer issued you with photo identification, you should bring this with you to the UK.

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