To enter the United Kingdom, travellers will soon have to make an advance application and pay a fee. The Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) is due to be rolled out by the end of 2023.
We are introducing a fully digital border system to keep the 🇬🇧 public safe.— Home Office (@ukhomeoffice) May 24, 2021
It will feature an Electronic Travel Authorisation scheme requiring travellers to complete an electronic application before entry into the UK. pic.twitter.com/wfIScN144l
The UK’s official ETA website indicates that when the new system is in place, any ‘non-visa’ foreign visitors (including those from the United States) will need to complete an online application prior to arrival.
Visitors completing the electronic form will be required to enter personal details, passport information, and security information. The next step is an automatic administrative procedure and the applicant should receiving a notification of the result between 48 and 72 hours later.
No confirmation of how much the ETA will cost applicants have yet been made available.
The move comes as part of the UK’s ongoing conversation about immigration. Digitalisation of border control is expected to be complete by 2025.
Our number one priority is the security of the UK border and by launching ETAs we can ensure that everyone wishing to travel to the UK has permission to do so in advance of travel and refuse those who pose a threat.The UK’s Home Office
Officials added that ETAs will act “as an additional security measure allowing the government to block threats from entering the UK, whilst also providing individuals with more assurance at an earlier point in time about their ability to travel.”
Other countries are already implementing or planning to put into place similar border control methods.
Europe is putting in place a new European Travel Information and Authorisation System (or ETIAS) from November. All foreign visitors aged 18 – 70 years old will need to apply for authorisation costing 7 euros.
Those travelling to the United States from Visa Waiver Program countries are required to apply through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (or ESTA). The fee increased by 50% last year, from $14 to $21, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Where the UK is concerned, Gulf states and Gulf Cooperation Council Council (GCC) countries such as Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar will be among the first to experience the new system.
Applicants from those countries will need to apply at least 72 hours in advance, and be holders of a valid GCC passport, a credit or debit card, and an email address.
Currently, GCC nationals are able to gain visa exception for the UK for stays up to six consecutive months, for the purposes of:
- Short-term study
- Medical treatment
To do so they must apply online for a UK EVW (Electronic Visa Waiver) that can be electronically associated with the traveller’s GCC passport. For this reason, it’s important that dual passport holders use just one passport for the process. The EVW is only valid for single entry and travellers must notify authorities if their itineraties change.
GCC nationals wanting to stay over six consecutive months, should approach British embassies or consulates in their country of residence to apply for alternative visas/permits.
The ETA will eventually be available to more than 60 nationalities for multiple entries to the United Kingdom.