UK Electronic Travel Authorization Starts in October 2023

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The United Kingdom Government announced that is developing a Electronic Travel Authorisation Scheme similar in scope to the United States Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) program.

The UK ETA will be rolled out in phases with the first phases starting in 2023 for select countries in Gulf Corporation States in the Middle East.

As part of the first rollout phase, UK visitors who do not require a visa, such as United States, Canadian, European Union, Australian and New Zealand, etc. citizens will not be impacted.

Here’s everything business aviation operators need to know:


About the UK ETA

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The UK Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) is a new requirement for people who do not need a visa to come to the UK. It gives them permission to travel to the UK, and it is electronically linked to their passport.

The scheme was created to strengthen security at the border and improve travel for visitors to the UK.

With a UK ETA, visitors are allowed to:

  • come to the UK for up to 6 months for tourism, visiting family and friends, business, or study
  • come to the UK for up to 3 months on the Creative Worker visa concession
  • transit through the UK

You can check if you need a UK visa here.


ETA Rollout Phases

 Qatari visitors to the UK can begin applying for an ETA in October 2023.

ETA will be required:

  • Nov. 15, 2023: Nationals of Qatar will require an ETA
  • Feb. 22, 2024: Nationals of Bahrain Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates will require an ETA

The new scheme will entirely replace the current Electronic Visa Waiver (EVW) Scheme which requires visitors to the UK from GCC states to pay a higher cost for a single-use visit.


Future ETA Rollout Phases and Requirements for Visitors Who Do Not Require a Visa such as U.S. citizens

 By the end of 2024, ETAs will be a requirement worldwide for visitors who do not need a visa for short stays, including those visiting from Europe. Visitors from Europe, and other nations such as America and Australia do not currently need to make any form of application to visit the UK, however, this will be changing with the introduction of ETAs.


ETA Application Process

The UK has pledged that the application process will be quick, light touch, and entirely digital with most visitors applying via a mobile app and receiving a swift decision on their application.

Visitors can apply on the UK ETA app, or online at GOV.UK.

You’ll usually get a decision within three working days, but you may get a quicker decision. It may take longer than three working days if further checks are required.

As part of the application for an ETA, individuals will need to provide biometric details and answer a set of suitability questions. This will ensure we have intelligence on those seeking to come to the UK helping to prevent dangerous individuals, such as criminals, from entering the UK.


ETA Confirmation

Applicants will receive an email confirmation if their application is approved.

The approval will link your ETA electronically to the passport you applied with. You must use the same passport to travel.


ETA Fees

The cost of an ETA will be competitive with similar international schemes, and individuals can make multiple visits to the UK over a two-year validity period.


ETA Validity

An ETA is valid for two years.

You can use it to make multiple visits to the UK. You still need to either use an ePassport gate if you are eligible to use one or see a Border Force officer to enter the UK.

If you get a new passport in less than 2 years, you’ll need to get a new ETA.

An ETA does not guarantee entry to the UK.


Conclusion

The UK is rolling out a new Electronic Travel Authorization Scheme starting in 2023. The first phases focus on Qatari nationals in November 2023 and then other Gulf Corporation State citizens in February 2024.

Citizens of countries that do not require a visa to enter the UK, such as the United States, EU countries, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand are not impacted for now. However, by the end of 2024, ETAs will be required for all international visitors to the UK.


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