Understanding the Differences between Deportation, Early Removal Scheme (ERS) and Prisoners Transfer (Repatriation)

Deportation, Early Removal Scheme (ERS) and Prisoner Transfer (Repatriation) are all methods of removing individuals from one country to another. Understanding the differences between these three types of removal can help individuals make informed decisions about their immigration and deportation status. Let’s explore each of these policies further to understand their differences.


Deportation is forcibly removing someone from the UK due to immigration law violations or criminal activity. It is a severe punishment with serious consequences for the individual and their family. Deportees are generally barred from returning to the UK for a minimum of 10 years.

In the UK, deportation orders are issued by the Home Office and enforced by Immigration Enforcement. The Home Office issues a notice of the decision to deport when they have come to the conclusion that an individual must leave their current country. This document includes the Home Office’s reasoning and justification for why they want to deport you.

There are various reasons why someone may be deported, including overstaying their visa, committing a crime, or being deemed a threat to national security. The removal process can be complex and lengthy, with multiple stages involved before an individual is removed from the UK.

Early Removal Scheme

The Early Removal Scheme is an option for foreign nationals serving a fixed-term prison sentence in the UK who are liable to be removed from the country. It provides a way for imprisoned foreign nationals to be released before completing their original sentence, solely for the purpose of removal or deportation from the United Kingdom.

According to the policy, any foreign national imprisoned in England or Wales must be assessed for possible removal from the country. This scheme applies to all foreign nationals residing in the UK, regardless of nationality or origin, including those from EEA and non-EEA countries.

The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) is the governing body in charge of the scheme, also overseen by several other operational areas. These include:

  • Home Office Immigration Enforcement
  • HM Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS)
  • HMPPS Public Protection Casework Section (PPCS)


Repatriation is returning a person, usually a prisoner, to their country of origin or citizenship. It is also known as prisoner transfer and is typically used to refer to the transfer of individuals who have been convicted of crimes in the UK and are being returned to their home country for incarceration or other forms of punishment.

Prisoner transfers involve mutually agreed-upon terms between two countries under pre-determined regulations protecting individual rights. Non-UK citizens convicted of a crime in the UK who prefer serving their sentence in their homeland are typically eligible for this processing.

Final Thoughts

It is important to understand the differences between deportation, Early Removal Scheme (ERS) and Prisoners Transfer (Repatriation).

Deportation is a form of removal from the UK that is involuntary and imposed by the Home Office. Early Removal Scheme (ERS) is a voluntary scheme for people to return to their country of origin as an alternative to deportation. Prisoner Transfer (Repatriation) is a voluntary scheme for prisoners to transfer from a foreign prison to a prison in their home country.

All of these schemes have different requirements, eligibility criteria and implications for those who are affected. Knowing the various schemes available when approaching the Home Office to facilitate your return is important.