Landing in Ireland and visiting N. Ireland

Just got back from an enjoyable tour of Ireland and Northern Ireland (to those of you that answered my questions a few months ago, thanks!). The other current threads about crossing borders got me wondering about something.

When I landed in Dublin I got a stamp in my passport that says “Permitted to remain in Ireland until September 20 2006”. Now, Northern Ireland is a part of the United Kingdom, the rest of Ireland is not. However, there are no really obvious borders, at least on the roads we used (I knew I was in Northern Ireland when the signs switched to just English and the prices to Pounds rather than bilingual English/Irish and Euros).

So, given that Northern Ireland is separate from the Republic of Ireland, what was my status in Northern Ireland? Did I by law have the same right to remain in Northern Ireland as I did in the Republic of Ireland, or do the authorities just look the other way in circumstances like mine? How about if I hopped a ferry to Scotland?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_Travel_Area is a starting-point to understanding just how confused the whole situation is.

And yes, it’s good fun working out which country you’re in by the state of the road surface.

Heh, it used to be the road quality went up on crossing into the UK but now its more likely to be the other way round.

Lots of problems with this, in the university where I work we get a lot of American’s travelling to the UK through Irish airports. They have to have their passports sent off to Immigration authorities in England as we no longer have immigration offices here in Belfast, plus of course the standard extortionate fee for the Home Office :rolleyes:

So while you were in Northern Ireland, you were an illegal alien really. If you had been stopped by the police for any reason, they may just have checked your passport for an appropriate visa. One unlikely ex-student who was here illegally (left his course but not the country for a few months, even stayed on in university accommodation!) was booted out of not only the UK, but the entire EU for the next 10 years.

I’ve heard it more likely that the police in Ireland will go after you for your passport and visa stamp, but then they usually stop people who are more obviously foreign (for want of a better way of saying it) i.e. Asians or Africans.

A few years ago (pre 1998/99) you would have had to negotiate Army checkpoints (on the British side of the border) and longer ago again Customs and Excise posts (mostly on the Irish side from what I remember) so you could have had your identity checked more throughly. It took 10 or 15 minutes for Dad to get our caravan across border alone at customs.

Don’t Canadians get a visa waiver for visiting the UK?

I wasn’t completely correct Google should have been my friend, Canadians don’t need a visa if they’re only visiting, according to the British High Commission site. All you need to do is talk the chappy in immigration that you’re just visiting. But since there aren’t any border checkpoints any more, you probably wouldn’t have been at much risk of questioning.

Interesting - thanks! The chances are nil that this situation will ever arise for me again (I certainly plan to go overseas again if I have the $ and time, but I can’t think of another trip that I would be interested in that would provide a similar situation); I was just curious.