The United Kingdom (UK) government’s foremost priority is the safety and security of the nation.
In pursuit of a more robust border security system and streamlined travel procedures, the UK is introducing the Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) scheme, a digital permission to travel to the UK.
The ETA scheme primarily targets visitors who do not require a visa for short stays in the UK or those without prior UK immigration status before traveling. The implementation of this scheme will occur in phases, starting with Qatari nationals from 25th October 2023, followed by nationals from Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia from 1st February 2024.
Under the ETA scheme, each applicant will need to pay £10, granting them multiple journeys and a validity period of two years or until their passport expires, whichever is earlier. The introduction of ETAs will replace Electronic Visa Waivers (EVWs) for nationals of Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia, offering cost savings and the convenience of multi-use over two years.
By the end of 2024, the ETA scheme will become a global requirement for short-stay visitors who do not need a visa, including those from Europe.
Applying for an ETA will be a swift and straightforward process. Most applicants can expect a response within three working days, with many receiving results even sooner. The UK ETA app or the ‘Apply for an ETA to come to the UK’ section on the gov.uk website will be the platforms to submit applications.
The ETA will hold validity for multiple journeys over a two-year period or until the expiration of the applicant’s passport, offering flexibility for frequent travelers.
The ETA scheme will affect visitors who do not require a visa for short stays and have no other prior UK immigration status before their journey.
Enhancing UK border security, the ETA application will collect biographic, biometric, and contact details, and include a set of suitability questions to improve the authorities’ knowledge of applicants and prevent any potential threats.
For those refused an ETA, they will need to apply for a visa to seek permission to enter the UK.
The scheme will operate differently for the Ireland-Northern Ireland border, as British and Irish nationals will be exempt from requiring an ETA. The Common Travel Area will continue to facilitate movement between the UK, the Crown Dependencies, and Ireland without routine immigration controls. However, individuals legally resident in Ireland from nationalities that typically do not require a visa for UK visits (e.g., EU, EEA, and Swiss nationals) will need an ETA when traveling from outside the Common Travel Area.
ETAs will replace Electronic Visa Waivers, offering visitors from Gulf Cooperation Council states a more cost-effective option for multiple visits within a two-year period.
Qatari visitors will require an ETA from 15th November 2023, but applications can be submitted in advance from 25th October 2023. Until then, they will still need an EVW for travel. Similarly, visitors from Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates will need an ETA from 22nd February 2024, with advance applications possible from 1st February 2024.
Overall, the ETA scheme aims to strengthen UK border security while facilitating smooth and efficient travel for eligible visitors, ensuring the nation’s safety remains paramount. In the future, it’s possible this may affect Caribbean passport holders. Follow along by subscribing to our newsletter to be the first to hear if this will affect your passport.