On May 1, over three centuries ago, the Act of Union treaty effected the merging of England and Scotland under the name of Great Britain.

Before that, there were two separate kingdoms – the Kingdom of Scotland and England respectively. The union of these two kingdoms had been proposed for over a hundred years before it actually happened in 1707. It is believed that the Scots were scared about their country would merely another region of England and eventually goes unnoticed like Wales, who had joined Great Britain some 400 years earlier.

On the other hand, England’s worry was concerning Scotland’s soldiers. Since they heavily relied on the Scot soldiers, they feared Scotland may join hands with France because if that happened, it would be nothing short of being disastrous for England.

The Buckingham Palace in London, England © Wikimedia Commons

The United Kingdom went on to become one of the most powerful and successful unions in history. By 1850, the news reports state that almost 40% of the total world trade was conducted via the UK. Not just England but also Scotland as Glasgow, from being a small market town on the River Clyde, was termed as the “Second City of the British Empire.”

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Be it England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, each location mentioned here is beautiful with tons of tourist attractions. The UK as a whole is believed to be the 10th most visited country, while the likes of London, Oxford, Edinbrugh, Belfast and York to name a few continue to remain popular tourist destinations. The country is famous for its long history and culture that attract thousands of travellers year after year.

Scotland’s scenic countryside © Narendran KS

For travellers, it is easy moving around between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, thanks to the Act of Union that took place over 300 years ago. Travelling between these countries is considered to be domestic travel on a UK visa for travellers.

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Even though Ireland received its independence from Great Britain in 1922 and became an independent country, the border controls are from very little to almost nil between the two nations, especially for their respective citizens. In turn, that has helped the travellers too, who want to explore both the countries in one single trip.

Ireland’s famous Cliffs of Moher © Sandipan Banerjee

In fact, do you know us Indians can visit UK and Ireland, which is a part of the Schengen region, on a single visa?

British-Irish visa scheme

As of now, this scheme is applicable only for Indian and Chinese nationals, according to www.govt.uk.

“Under the British-Irish visa scheme, some Irish short stay visas will allow onward travel to the UK and some UK visitor visas will allow onward travel to Ireland. For example, under the scheme, an Indian or Chinese visitor in Dublin will be able to make a short trip to London or Belfast without needing a separate visa. Alternatively, an Indian or Chinese visitor in London could travel to Dublin or Cork,” the website further stated.

The UK is known for its picturesique villages and towns © Narendran KS

Ireland and the UK have joint visa application centres in China and India. For the British-Irish scheme visa, it must be applied to the UK/Ireland centre in these two countries as applications for the same will be rejected at any other centre, as of now. It is understood that the joint working will be rolled out gradually to other countries.