“The Common Travel Area is only for the benefit of Irish citizens and British nationals”

We never did have that reasoned debate about Schengen…  The Irish Times reports that a Dublin High Court judge has pointed out that

Foreign tourists who leave the Republic for a day trip to Northern Ireland, without a passport or visa to enter the UK could, under Irish immigration laws, be refused permission to re-enter the Republic, a judge warned yesterday.

The case involves a Bolivian couple, but in the absence of Schengen, it would seem to apply to all non-British or non-Irish citizens.  From the Irish Times report

Mr Justice Hogan said foreign nationals often took day trips to Northern Ireland. Many left their travel documents in the Republic, wrongly believing they did not need them because the Common Travel Area between the Republic and the UK was for the benefit of all.

“The Common Travel Area is only for the benefit of Irish citizens and British nationals,” Mr Justice Hogan said in a ruling on an application by a Bolivian couple, Roberth Moreno Choma (25) and Daniella Fernandez Pacheco (22), who travelled to Northern Ireland and Scotland on their way to a three- day break in London.

Mr Justice Hogan said it was probably fair to say they had made an innocent mistake.

When they first arrived in Dublin, immigration authorities granted them permission to stay in the State for a month.

The UK authorities stopped them coming off the ferry at Cairnryan last weekend and they face deportation back to Bolivia. Noticing their passports had been stamped by the Irish authorities up to January 16th, the UK authorities asked if they would be allowed back into the Republic, but they were refused entry.

It’s a bit confusing, given that the report starts by refering to “foreign nationals” travelling without documentation.  Whereas the actual case involves a couple from without the European Economic Area with documentation, but no UK visas. 

The following countries are in the European Economic Area – Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, the Republic of Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK. 

Citizens of those countries do not require visas to visit, live in, and work in the UK – but do require documentation to enter, ie passport or national identity card.

Unless they travel through the “Lille loophole”…

And here’s a related development on the Common Travel Area.

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  • Drumlins Rock

    the discussion on Politics suggests there is more to this story than first appears,

  • and if they’d gone to Donegal via Omagh:

    Judge Hogan said the situation could also apply to foreign nationals who innocently travelled to the North on their way to Donegal or to foreign tourists who take day trips, for example, to the Giant’s Causeway in Co Antrim.

  • Cynic2

    If we want to encourage Tourism we need to sort this mess. But its a reserved matter isnt it?

  • Harry Flashman

    When travelling with my wife to my home in Derry we are always careful to get British and Irish visas sorted out.

    It was explained to me by a decent Immigration officer in Dublin that there is an informal cooperation mechanism between the two countries. “We scratch their backs and they scratch ours” is how it was put, both countries look out for people trying to get into the other country by the back door.

    It was made clear to me that even popping over the border to Donegal could cause problems if my missus was stopped without a valid visa.

    Also I discovered that even if the Irish consulate issues a visa for six months it’s entirely at the discretion of the immigration bloke at the airport how long you can stay, my missus was once given a paltry seven day pass even though we were visiting for a fortnight or more.

  • Framer

    The deal is Ireland is supposed to operate the same rules as the UK for mutual protection of borders but if Ireland admits Bolivians on fanciful tales about checking out language schools, trust crumbles. The UK is now left to deal with the problem. One question is how the pair got to Dublin airport without visas as I am sure there are no direct flights from La Paz.

    A key difference is the UK no longer permits non-EU students at private colleges and schools to seek work. It looks as if Ireland still does.

  • Framer,

    You do not need a visa to change flights in an international airport. And do you have a source for the “fanciful tales about checking out language schools”?

  • JR

    I attended a course in Omeath for a number of weeks. I noted that each time went I crossed the border 5 times on the way there and 5 times on the way back.

    On an Island where the natural movment of people use the 300+ roads crossing the border daily to get from a to b it dosent matter what laws are introduced. They are unenforcable.

  • JR,

    What route was that? The only place I can think of that would require exactly five border crossings from Omeath is a small corner of south Fermanagh…

  • JR


    Sorry I made a mistake, it was actually 7 border crossings each way 14 in total. I just checked on my ordinance survey maps.

    Grid ref for each border crossing.

    J115192, J087189, J073176, J070175, J069173, J006146, H995141.

    If i lived a few mile away I would have had two more!!

  • My gran would be impressed. 😉 Although I don’t think J070175 and J069173 count as border crossings, so you were right the first time (five).

  • JR

    Yea, I was surprised myself when I looked at the map to see the border there. I decided to count those because according to my OS map the road is the border. It does go to show what a badly drawn border it is!