Travelers from Europe, Australia, the US, and Canada will soon be required to apply for permission to enter the UK. This scheme, known as Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA), will be introduced by the UK Home Office by the end of 2023.
Here’s everything we know about her so far.
How do I apply for an ETA to enter the UK?
Visitors will have to fill out an online application that will permit them to enter the UK, writes Euronews. Most will be able to apply using the mobile app and a decision on their application will be made fairly quickly, the government said.
You will need a valid biometric passport from an eligible country, travel details, an email address, and a credit or debit card. You will also have to answer a series of eligibility questions.
As with the Electronic Travel Authorization (ESTA) system in the US, there will be a small fee for the application process. It will be 10 pounds (11.66 euros).
Travelers are advised to apply at least a few days in advance of their planned trip, as there is a 72-hour time limit for an entry permit to be issued.
Who will be able to access the ETA first?
Visitors from Qatar will be the first to be able to apply for the new ETA scheme in the UK. The ETA will be available to them from October 2023.
The next group – from February 2024 – will be tourists from the Gulf Cooperation Council countries and Jordan. The scheme will then roll out globally over a year, with ETA becoming a requirement by the end of 2024.
Do I need a visa to enter the UK?
An ETA is not a visa, but it permits one to enter the country.
All visitors who do not currently require a visa will be required to obtain an ETA before travel. This also applies to those who do not currently need to apply to visit the UK, i.e. citizens of the US, Canada, Australia, and Europe – they will also need an ETA even for a short stay.
If you do not apply before your trip, you may be fined. UK and Irish passport holders do not require an ETA.
Travelers from countries that do not have a Visa Waiver Agreement with the UK will still need to apply for an appropriate visa and ETA.
Your ETA will be valid for six months or two years with a valid UK visa. This means that you will not need to apply for a new entry permit if you visit the UK again within the current period.
Why is the UK introducing the ETA scheme?
The ETA scheme is part of the UK’s plan to digitize borders at the country’s airports by the end of 2025.
Some passengers will be able to enter the country without using EPassport Gates or talking to a border officer. Instead, they will likely have to upload their photo and submit it to the Home Office before they travel. Facial recognition technology could be used to create these “contactless corridors”, according to the British newspaper The Times.
The system is designed to reduce queues at airports and make travel to the UK more enjoyable.