what you need to know about the uk electronic travel authorisation scheme

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The new UK Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) offers advanced authorisation to visit the UK for persons who do not currently require a visa. It is a requirement of the UK’s new Universal Permission to Travel (UPT).

Close up of Jamaican passport and a United States passport-letsworkabroad

Why is the UK launching the ETA programme?

The Home Office hopes to increase the security of the UK’s borders, improve traveller screening capabilities, and prevent people who represent a threat to the safety of the nation from entering the UK by implementing the ETA scheme.

Who requires a visa to enter the UK?

The ETA programme now applies to citizens of nations who previously did not require a visa to enter the UK. When entering the UK through the Common Travel Area, nationals of the UK and Ireland, as well as people who are legally residing in Ireland, are exempt and do not require an ETA.

What may the holder do with it? How long is it valid for?

It will be distributed digitally for a period of two years via an application that may be fully filled out and paid for via a new ETA mobile app.

The holder is permitted to travel to the UK on multiple occasions for a total of six months each time. Additionally, travel through the UK is permitted.

The ETA mobile app and the application process

A smartphone app or online application will be used by applicants. The application will request:

  • Taking a picture
  • Contact and biographical information
  • Passport information
  • Responses to inquiries concerning past criminal crimes and immigration status

Additionally, remote uploading of fingerprint data and ID checks should be made possible through the app.

How much will it cost and how long will it take?

A determination should be automatically communicated to you within three days of the application being submitted via the ETA mobile app. Each applicant will pay £10 for an ETS.

Will my child need an ETA as well?

Yes, unless the child is an Irish citizen, a British citizen, or has another valid UK visa.

When will the ETA programme be operational?

Qatari nationals are the first to be eligible for the programme; they can apply starting on October 25, 2023, and starting on November 15, 2023, they’ll need an ETA to travel to the UK.

The following Gulf nations will be eligible to apply for an ETA starting on February 1 and will require one starting on February 22 in order to travel to the UK:

  • Bahrain
  • Jordan
  • Kuwait
  • Oman
  • Saudi Arabia
  • United Arab Emirates

By the end of 2024, the UK hopes to expand the ETA programme to every country.

Do EU citizens require the ETA in order to travel?

Yes, someday they will. They should be subject to the ETA scheme starting in December 2024, and it appears that the EU is putting one in place with the EU Entry/Exit System (EES) and the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS).

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