The UK Government recently announced their plans to transform the UK border by introducing more streamlined, digital systems. It’s a move with progressive ambition: the improvements are planned to enhance the experience of travellers and make entering and leaving the UK far more efficient.
As part of this digital transformation, the Government are developing an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) scheme, like the approach taken by countries such as Australia and the US towards border security.
In this article, we take a deeper look at ETAs and provide you with a rundown of everything you need to know ahead of the official rollout starting in October 2023.
What is an ETA?
Put simply, an ETA is a permission to travel to the UK for people without a visa. It will replace Electronic Visa Waivers (EVW) required by travellers from certain nations, making UK visits cheaper and long lasting.
Starting with Qatari nationals in October 2023, visitors from several countries (see below) will need an ETA to:
- Come to the UK for up to 6 months of tourism.
- Come to the UK for up to 3 months on the Creative Worker visa concession.
- Transit through the UK, even if they are not going through UK border control.
Each qualifying traveller will require an ETA, including babies and children.
NATIONALS THAT WILL REQUIRE AN ETA
Qatar can apply for an ETA from 25 October 2023 and will require one from 15 November 2023.
Bahrain, Oman, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates can apply for an ETA from 01 February 2024 and will require one from 22 February 2024.
How Does an ETA Work?
An ETA will be electronically linked to an individual’s passport. Those that require an ETA will be able to apply through a new ‘UK ETA app’ or via the gov.uk website at a cost of £10 per applicant.
When applying for an ETA you will be expected to:
- Pay the £10 application fee
- Provide passport details
- Provide a valid photo
- Answer a set of questions.
A decision will be made within 3 working days, upon which the ETA remains valid for two years or until the holder’s passport expires.
What if I’m a Resident of Ireland?
Those who are legally resident in Ireland and are of a nationality that does not usually require a visa to enter the UK will NOT be required to obtain an ETA when travelling to the UK from a Common Travel Area – provided they hold an exemption document.
The new Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) scheme is part of a plan by the UK Government to streamline the process of entering the country for people without a visa.
Nationals from Qatar, Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates wil be the first to take advantage of the scheme, with travellers able to apply via an official ‘UK ETA app’ which promises a decision within 3 working days.
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