Cross border workers in Ireland

Introduction

The rules about cross border working on the island of Ireland have changed for some people because Northern Ireland is no longer part of the EU.

Irish citizens can continue to live and work in Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. British citizens can live and work in Ireland.

If you are an EEA citizen (the EU, plus Iceland, Norway and Lichtenstein) and you have been living in Ireland and working in Northern Ireland since before the end of 2020, you must apply for the Frontier Worker Permit to continue working Northern Ireland from 1 July 2021.

If you are an EEA citizen (not Irish) living in Northern Ireland since before 31 December 2020, you must apply for the EU Settlement Scheme.

What is a cross border worker?

A cross border worker (also called a ‘frontier worker’) is a person who lives in one country and works in another country, returning to the country they live in at least once a week.

For example, if you live in Ireland and work in Northern Ireland, you are a cross border worker if you return to your home in Ireland at least once a week.

The rules covering cross border workers on the island of Ireland have changed because Northern Ireland is no longer part of the EU.

How these new rules affect you depends on your nationality and if you were already a cross border worker before 1 January 2021.

Who can live in Ireland and work in Northern Ireland?

Irish and British citizens can continue to live and work on both sides of the border. This is because Ireland and the UK are part of the Common Travel Area, which gives Irish and British citizens the right to live and access services in both countries.

EEA and Swiss citizens

Different rules apply depending on if you were already a cross border worker before 1 January 2021

You were working in Northern Ireland and living in Ireland before 1 January 2021

If you were living in Ireland and working in Northern Ireland before 1 January 2021, you must apply for a Frontier Worker Permit to continue working there from 1 July 2021. There is no fee to apply for the permit.

You can qualify for a Frontier Worker Permit if you meet all of the following:

  • You are a citizen of the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Lichtenstein
  • You live in Ireland
  • You started working (including self-employment) in the UK before 1 January 2021

You must have spent less than 180 days in the UK in the 12 months since 1 January 2020. If you have spent more time in the UK than 180 days, you can still qualify if you have returned to Ireland at least once every 6 months, or twice in 12 months.

You may qualify for the Permit if you stopped working in the UK but retained your worker status. You can keep your worker status if you stopped working because:

  • You had an illness or an accident.
  • You became involuntarily unemployed. You must have registered as a jobseeker and have proof that you were looking for work in the UK while you were out of work. You can keep your worker status for:
    • 6 months if you worked in the UK for less than one year
    • As long as you were continuing to look for work, if you worked in the UK for a year or more
  • You became voluntarily unemployed and started vocational training related to the work you were doing.
  • You were pregnant or gave birth. If you are on maternity or paternity leave, you are still classed as working. If you stopped working because you had a child you can keep your worker status for up to one year. After this you can keep your worker status by registering as unemployed and looking for work.

You can read about how to apply for the Frontier Worker Permit on gov.uk.

If you are an Irish citizen, you do not need to apply for a Frontier Worker Permit but you can choose to if you want.

You were not living in Ireland and working in Northern Ireland before 1 January 2021

You do not qualify for the Frontier Worker Permit. If you want to work in Northern Ireland (or another part in the UK), you should apply for permission to work in the UK through the UK points based immigration scheme.

You live in Northern Ireland and work in Ireland

If you lived in Northern Ireland (or another part of the UK) before the end of 2020, you must apply to continue to live there through the EU Settlement Scheme. You have a right to work in Ireland.

New residents from 1 January 2021 - If you plan to move to Northern Ireland and work there, or to live in Northern Ireland and work in Ireland, you have to apply for UK residence through the Points Based Immigration System.

Non-EEA citizens

If you are from outside the EEA, you have to get permission to live in Ireland and permission to enter and work in the UK. This means you have to satisfy both country’s immigration conditions.

Non-EEA family members

People from outside the EEA, UK and Switzerland need permission to live in Ireland.

Family members of UK citizens

If your family lived with you in Ireland before 1 January 2021 and had an IRP Card with Stamp 4EU FAM (as family members of EU citizens), they must exchange their IRP card before the end of 2021.

Non-EEA family members of UK citizens who move to Ireland from 1 January 2021 must apply for a visa or preclearance through a new immigration scheme.

Family members of Irish citizens

If your spouse or partner is from outside the EEA, UK and Switzerland, they have to apply for residence. They may also have to apply for a visa to enter Ireland.

Tax

If you are living in Ireland and working in Northern Ireland, your tax and national insurance (this is like PRSI in Ireland) is deducted from your pay.

You also have to make an annual self-assessment to Revenue in Ireland. Ireland and the UK have a double taxation agreement, which means that you will get a credit for the tax that you already paid in the UK. This makes sure that you won’t have to pay tax twice. But you may have to pay extra tax in Ireland based on the difference in the tax rates between the two countries, and also based on the earnings of your spouse if you have one.

You should apply for Transborder Workers’ Relief in Ireland.

You may be entitled to tax credits in the UK based on how much income you have. UK tax credits is a payment made to workers on low income, and is different to tax credits in Ireland, which are used to calculate how much tax you have to pay.

Social welfare

In general, the country you work in is responsible for paying social welfare payments. For example, if you are working in Northern Ireland and your family lives in Ireland, the UK pays Child Benefit. But if the rate of Child Benefit you get in the UK is less than Child Benefit in Ireland, you can apply to get your payment topped up by Ireland.

Ireland and the UK have agreed to continue paying social welfare to cross border workers and to recognise insurance contributions (national insurance or PRSI) paid in the other country, in the same way as when the UK was part of the EU.

Family benefits

Family benefits include Child Benefit and Working Family Payment in Ireland, and Child Tax Credit in the UK.

The table below explains how payments are made where one or more spouse or partner lives in Ireland and has a spouse or partner and children in Ireland.

Location of work Who pays child benefit Other possible entitlements
One of a couple works in Northern Ireland and the other person does not work UK pays Child Benefit Means-tested Child Tax Credit in UK
One of a couple works in Northern Ireland and the other person works in Ireland Ireland pays Child Benefit Means-tested Working Family Payment in Ireland
Both work in Northern Ireland UK pays Child Benefit Means-tested Child Tax Credit in UK

Top-up of Child Benefit in Ireland

Means-tested Working Family Payment in Ireland

Unemployment payments

If you are lose your job completely you claim benefits from the country where you live. But if you have reduced hours or you are working casually, you apply for benefits in the country where you work.

For example, if you are made redundant from your job in Northern Ireland and you live in Ireland, you claim Jobseeker’s Benefit or Jobseeker’s Allowance from your local INTREO office in Ireland. If you are not working because of COVID-19 you can claim the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment.

If your job in Northern Ireland reduces your hours, you must apply for benefits in Northern Ireland.

Sickness and disability

If you become sick and cannot work temporarily, your employer in Northern Ireland should pay you Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for up to 28 weeks. If this is your only income, you can apply for Supplementary Welfare Allowance in Ireland to top up this payment.

You can claim Employment and Support Allowance if you are unable to work due to illness or disability and your SSP has finished or you are not entitled to SSP.

If you have to give up your job because of a sickness or disability, you may be entitled to Invalidity Pension in Ireland. This is based on your PRSI contributions and you can only apply for it if you have worked in Ireland some time in your life. If you have only worked in Ireland for a short period, you will only be able to get a small amount of Invalidity Pension.

Maternity and paternity payments and services

If you are working in Northern Ireland, you can choose to have your baby there and access healthcare services. This does not apply to you if only your partner works in NI.

The country you work in is competent (responsible) for your Maternity Benefit. If you are working in NI, you should apply for Statutory Maternity Pay there. If your partner is working in Northern Ireland, they can claim Paternity Pay through their employer. If your partner is working in Ireland they can claim paternity and parental benefits there.

Pensions

Contributions made in Northern Ireland and Ireland can be combined when you are applying for your pension. You may also be entitled to a pension from both countries.

If you have made contributions in both Ireland and Northern Ireland (or other parts of the UK, or other parts of the EEA) you can apply to the pension office in the country where you live when you reach pension age.

Further information

More information about cross-border working and the Frontier Worker Permit is available from:

Page edited: 14 April 2021