The UK government is planning to introduce a new system, which would require travelers to obtain a travel permit before crossing the Irish border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.
This requirement applies to all travelers except Irish and British nationals. EU citizens will also be affected by this requirement, which is similar to the US’s ESTA (Electronic Travel Authorization System), as well as ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorization System).
According to The Guardian, the system is planned to be complete and operational by 2025.
Commenting on the creation of such a system during a meeting with Northern Ireland’s House of Commons, Immigration Minister Kevin Foster said the travel permit would be a document obtained online through a simple procedure. He also indicated that papers would not be checked at the UK border.
“We do not have routine immigration controls through the Common Travel Area,” he said.
However, the idea has faced a backlash from Ireland, which believes that creating any system would be a “tightening of the borders”, something that both the UK and the EU have tried to avoid since the start of the Brexit negotiations.
Tanistee Leo Varadkar, who is the Irish government’s Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, found the idea troubling, although he claimed it “wasn’t a huge surprise”.
“We will certainly be communicating our concerns and objections to this measure to our UK counterparts. Unfortunately, it comes as no great surprise.
Northern Irish politicians in the British House of Commons have also opposed the idea, including here MP Stephen Fary, who said the scheme would create “new bureaucracy” and “legal uncertainty” for thousands of people.
The idea of creating an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) has been discussed a lot among UK politicians since Brexit. On May 26 this year, TheSchengen.com reported that it plans to create the scheme as part of efforts to tighten border controls.
“We will have a much clearer picture of who is here and whether they should be, and we will act if they are not,” British Home Secretary Priti Patel said at the time.
>> UK launches ETA system to register travelers entering and leaving the country, including EU citizens
On the other hand, the European Union is due to introduce a similar system next year, known as ETIAS. ETIAS is also a travel permit, which third-country nationals under the visa-free Schengen system must obtain in order to enter Schengen area countries, including British nationals here.
>> 1.4 billion people required to apply for ETIAS when traveling to the EU by the end of 2022