Advice for Brexit Preparation

With only a matter of weeks until the 31 October there is still huge uncertainty about whether the UK will leave the EU with or without a deal. 

This uncertainty is as per usual felt most severely in Northern Ireland due to the lack of a functioning NI Assembly and absence of political leadership and adequate representation.

As the UK Government continues steadfast towards ‘getting Brexit done’ by the end of October, whatever the consequences, there remain concerns about how limited preparations for all sectors in NI have been in the event of both a deal or a no deal Brexit. Many voluntary and community organisations and businesses simply do not have the resources, capacity or the knowledge to undertake significant preparations for any changes Brexit may bring about.

The UK government, NI Direct, Irish government and EU Commission have been putting out various advice and information notes on what will and will not be impacted post Brexit. We have attempted to pull together the relevant advice for the voluntary and community sector in NI to try to help organisations consider what changes may come about and what preparation may need to be undertaken.

Health and Social Care

NI Direct have advised that Brexit may include changes to health and social care however, planning is being developed to try and ensure there is no immediate effect on services including emergency care, social care, GP and dentist services.

  • Supply of medicines and medical products is expected to continue as normal.
  • There should be no major disruption to cross-border health and social care services but discussion on impacts of cross border acute services is being discussed.
  • Cross border health services (like the cardiology and cancer treatments in Altnagelvin Hospital and paediatric cardiology and maternity services in Dublin) are managed by service level agreements. These services and others like them will continue.
  • The Common Travel Area will continue to give British citizens in Ireland or Irish citizens in the UK mutual rights to access health services.
  • Departmental Operations Centre has been set up by the Department of Health to deal with any disruption to NI’s health and social care services which may be caused by Brexit and the Department continues to focus on ‘no deal’ exit contingency plans.
  • In a no deal scenario, UK nationals resident in the EU may experience limits to their access to healthcare services.
  • European Health Insurance Cards (EHICs) issued by the UK will not be valid if there is a no deal. If you are travelling to EU countries other than Ireland after the UK leaves the EU, you should purchase travel insurance to cover your health care needs just as if you were visiting a non-EU country.

Further information:


  • Children living on one side of the border are able to access education on the other side of the border and the Common Travel Area provides citizens of the UK and ROI with the right to access education in the other jurisdiction.
  • If there is any disruption to school transport, the Education Authority and Translink will provide information.
  • In the event of a no deal Brexit, the EU is preparing legislation to ensure that students from other EU Member States who are on mobility schemes in the UK, or UK students on mobility schemes such as Erasmus+ in other EU Member States, on the date of withdrawal will be able to complete them. 

Further information:

Professional Qualifications

  • After Brexit there may be implications for those working in an EU Member State who obtained professional qualifications in NI. However, if you have already had these qualifications recognised by the relevant regulator, there will be no change and you can continue to practice anywhere in the EU.
  • The Irish Government has encouraged regulatory authorities in Ireland, many of which operate on an all island basis, to engage with their counterparts in NI and Britain in order to manage the process of continued recognition. 



  • Brexit will mean that the NI voluntary sector will lose out on future EU Funding including through the NI Rural Development Programme for environmental schemes and projects for rural communities and the NI European Social Fund Programme to support vulnerable groups into employment. 
  • Assurances have been given by both the EU and UK Government that funding from the current Rural Development, European Social Fund, PEACE IV and INTERREG VA programmes will continue until the completion of the programmes in 2023, even in the event of a no deal Brexit.
  • Both the EU and UK Government have also given their commitment to developing a future PEACE PLUS programme which would ‘include support for both PEACE and INTERREG activities building on the work of previous and current programmes to support ‘social, economic and regional stability.’ For more on recent reassurances from  the Special EU Programmes Body on these issues see here.
  • In addition to the above ‘EU structural funds’ programmes, Brexit will also affect future access to a wide range of other EU funding programmes, including the Erasmus+ programme, major source of funding for educational and training exchanges between EU countries, Horizon 2020, a major source of funding for large-scale research projects between partner organisations across the EU, the MEDIA programme for the arts and creative industries, and Life+ for environmental projects.  Whilst some indications have been given by UK government of its interest in continuing access or ‘buying into’ such programmes (as some other non-EU European countries do) it remains uncertain what future access to such funding and at what level will be available after Brexit.

Further information:

Transport and Travel

  • Irish and British citizens will be able to continue to travel freely across the border after Brexit, even in a no deal scenario.
  • However if you hold a UK or NI driving licence you should not need an International Driving Permit to drive in the Republic of Ireland after Brexit. If you hold an EU or and EEA licence, you will not need an IDP to drive in the UK.
  • Coach drivers from the UK may need extra documents to drive in the EU and EEA after Brexit.
  • If you are travelling to the EU with your pet, you will have to contact your vet at least four months in advance to get the necessary paperwork.
  • There will be no requirements for passport controls for Irish and British citizens travelling between Ireland and Britain, however as is currently the case and will continue to be, air and sea carriers require a form of identification with some carriers only accepting passports as valid form of ID.
  • After Brexit there may be longer customs checks at the airports and ports when travelling between Ireland and Britain.
  • Drivers taking cross border journeys on the island of Ireland will be required to carry a Green Card which proves that you have motor insurance cover when driving in another jurisdiction.

Further information:

Citizenship rights

  • EU, EEA or Swiss citizens living in NI will need to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme to continue to live in the UK after 30 June 2021. To be eligible to apply to the scheme, EU citizens will need to show that they are living in the UK by December 2020. Citizens of Norway, Iceland, Lichtenstein and Switzerland will also need to apply to the EU settlement scheme.
  • If there is a no deal, EU, EEA or Swiss citizens living in the UK will have to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme by December 2020 instead of the June 2021.
  • Irish citizens will continue to have EU citizenship wherever they live and will continue to enjoy the right to travel, live and work anywhere in the EU. Irish citizens do not need to take any action to protect their status and rights.

Further information:

Changes to Family Law

Certain current family law agreements which apply between the EU countries will stop applying to UK. The rules will change for cross-border family law cases involving the EU.

There will be changes to rules that decide:

  • where cases for divorce are heard (jurisdiction) and how a divorce granted in one country will be recognised in another
  • where cases about children (parental responsibility) are heard and in which countries decisions will be recognised and enforced
  • where cases for maintenance are heard and in which countries decisions will be recognised and enforced
  • extra EU rules on child abduction

Further information:


It is a guarantee that the standards of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will be incorporated into the UK's own data protection laws, post-Brexit. Brexit will however have an impact on the free flow of personal data to and from the UK, especially if there is a no deal. Organisations should review their current transfers of data—received from or sent to other countries—and assess how they might be affected.

Further information:

Money benefit and pensions

After Brexit, if you are an Irish citizen living in Northern Ireland, or a British citizen living in the South, your social welfare rights will not change even in the case of no deal. UK law allows for workplace pensions to be paid overseas. The government does not expect this to change after Brexit.

Further information:

NICVA Brexit Articles Timeline

Share your COVID-19 support service

Organisations providing support to people and communities can share their service information here

> Share your support

Not a NICVA member yet?

Save time, money and energy. Join NICVA and you’ll be connecting in to a strong network of local organisations focused on voluntary and community activity.

Join Us

NICVA now welcomes all small groups for free.