FAQs on Trade in Services and the Common Travel Area

1. What rights does the Common Travel Area provide?

The Common Travel Area gives Irish and British citizens the right to move, reside, work and study in each jurisdiction. These rights associated with the Common Travel Area apply only to Irish and British citizens. They do not apply to nationals of other countries even if they are resident in Ireland or the UK, nor do they apply to companies or partnerships.

The longstanding Common Travel Area has continued to operate since 1 January 2021, when the transition period following the UK’s departure from the European Union ended. The EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement and the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement both recognise the Common Travel Area.

2. Following the UK’s departure from the European Union, can British citizens provide services in Ireland and can Irish citizens provide services in the UK?

In general, British citizens can provide services in Ireland and Irish citizens can provide services in the UK as sole traders, as employees or through a company that they own. The Common Travel Area rights listed above help to facilitate this.

The EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement facilitates trade in services between the EU (including Ireland) the UK (including Northern Ireland). The Agreement provides for a significant level of openness for trade in services and investment, going beyond the baseline provisions of the WTO's General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS).

However, British citizens and companies operating as service providers within the EU, including Ireland, will no longer be able to rely on the Services Directive, for instance, which facilitates EU businesses wishing to provide services in another EU Member State. Both British and Irish service providers must abide by the domestic rules, procedures and authorisations applicable to their activities in the other jurisdiction. For more information, see the Services and Investment Section of the European Commission’s Questions & Answers: EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement.

With respect to regulated professions, a service provider’s access to the Irish or UK market may require the prior recognition of a professional qualification. The EU law regime for the mutual recognition of professional qualifications no longer applies between the UK (including Northern Ireland) and the EU, including Ireland. However, extensive work has been carried out by regulatory bodies in Ireland and the UK to ensure that suitable frameworks exist for the recognition of qualifications under the applicable national procedures. You should contact the relevant regulatory body for your sector if you have a question about the recognition of a professional qualification.