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UK to Launch the Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) Scheme

What is the ETA Scheme?

The UK’s travel requirements are set to change for nationals of Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudia Arabia, and United Arab Emirates. When visiting the UK, an ETA will be a requirement for those individuals who do not need a visa. ETAs will be electronically linked to passports and will give people permission to travel to the UK. The scheme is similar to the United States’ ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorisation) scheme.

Who needs an ETA and when by?

Qatari nationals, if travelling to the UK on or after 15 November 2023, will require an ETA and will be able to apply for one from 25 October 2023.

Nationals of Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates will need an ETA if they are travelling to the UK on or after 22 February 2024. They will be able to apply for one from 1 February 2024.

There is yet to be confirmation of a date when nationals of other countries who do not need a visa to visit the UK will need to apply for an ETA, but full implementation of the ETA scheme is planned for the end of 2024.

Who does not need an ETA?

Those with any of the following will not be required to obtain an ETA:

  1. British or Irish passport;
  2. permission to live, work or study in the UK; or
  3. a visa to enter the UK.

Further, those living in Ireland, but not Irish citizens, will also not need to apply for an ETA providing:

  1. they are legally resident in Ireland;
  2. they do not need a visa to enter the UK; and
  3. they’re entering the UK from Ireland, Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man.

What is the purpose of the scheme?

The ETA scheme is designed to better the UK’s security, enabling the UK to better assess the risks travellers pose before their scheduled visit.

Queue times are also expected to improve for visitors.

How to apply for ETA?

The application process is straightforward. Applicants will need to download the UK ETA app and follow instructions or apply through GOV.UK.

It is estimated that it will take three working days to receive a decision, via email confirmation. If further checks are required, it might take longer than this.

The ETA will cost £10 per applicant, and it will be valid for two years, or will expire with the applicant’s passport, whichever period is shorter. Since the ETA will be electronically linked to the passport used in your application. It’s important to travel with the same passport as your ETA is connected to.

What happens if you are refused an ETA?

If an ETA is refused, then to visit the UK, you will need to apply for either:

  1. a Standard Visitor visa to visit the UK;
  2. a Temporary Work – Creative Worker visa to come to the UK as a creative worker; or
  3. a Transit visa to transit through the UK.

If you have any issues with your ETA application or would like to discuss any of the above, or anything else, please do get in touch with our immigration team.