The government’s number one priority is keeping the UK safe. To strengthen the security of our border and improve travel, the UK is launching an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) scheme - an ETA is a digital permission to travel to the UK.
The ETA scheme is broadly for visitors who do not need a visa for short stays to the UK, or who do not already have a UK immigration status prior to travelling.
It will launch for Qatari nationals from 25 October 2023. From 1 February 2024, the scheme will be introduced for nationals of Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.
ETAs will replace Electronic Visa Waivers (EVW) for nationals of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia – improving our offer as ETAs are cheaper and multi-use over a two-year period.
By the end of 2024, the scheme will be a requirement worldwide for visitors who do not need a visa for short stays, including those visiting from Europe.
How much does an ETA cost?
- The cost will be competitive and comparable with similar schemes such as the US and Australia. We will confirm the exact cost of an ETA in due course.
How do people apply for an ETA?
- The application process will be quick and light-touch. Most applicants will receive a response within three working days, with many receiving a result sooner.
- Individuals will be able to apply for an ETA through the ‘UK ETA app’ or by searching for ‘Apply for an ETA to come to the UK’ on gov.uk.
- To apply for an ETA, individuals will need to:
- Pay a fee
- Provide contact and passport details
- Provide a valid photo, complying with our rules for digital photos on gov.uk
- Answer a set of questions
How long is an ETA valid for?
- An ETA will be valid for multiple journeys over a two-year period or until the passport the individual used to apply with expires – whichever is sooner.
How many visitors will this impact?
- The ETA scheme will broadly apply to visitors who do not need a visa for short stays and who do not have any other UK immigration status prior to travelling to the UK.
How will an ETA help UK border security?
- Those applying for an ETA will provide their biographic, biometric and contact details, and answer a short set of suitability questions. This will increase our knowledge about those seeking to come to the UK and prevent the arrival of those who present a threat.
What will happen if someone is refused an ETA?
- If an individual’s ETA application is refused they will need to apply for a visa if they wish to seek permission come to the UK.
How will the scheme work in the context of the Ireland-Northern Ireland border?
- The Common Travel Area facilitates movement of people between the United Kingdom, the Crown Dependencies and Ireland.
- As is the case now, the UK will not operate routine immigration controls on journeys from within the Common Travel Area, with no immigration controls whatsoever on the Ireland-Northern Ireland land border.
- All individuals arriving in the UK, including those crossing the land border into Northern Ireland, will continue to need to enter in line with the UK’s immigration framework, including the need to obtain an ETA if required.
- Those who are legally resident in Ireland and from a nationality that does not usually require a visa to visit the UK, will not be required to obtain an ETA when travelling to the UK from within the CTA. Non-Irish residents of Ireland who are travelling to the UK from outside of the CTA will require an ETA before travel.
- Once granted, an ETA will be valid for multiple journeys over an extended period, including those across the Ireland-Northern Ireland border whilst protecting the Common Travel Area from abuse.
Will Electronic Visa Waivers still be valid?
- ETAs will replace EVWs, which currently require visitors to the UK from Gulf Cooperation Council states to pay a higher cost for a single-use visit.
- ETAs will improve our offer, being cheaper and multi-use over a two-year period.
- Qatari visitors will need an ETA to travel to the UK from 15 November 2023, but can apply in advance from 25 October 2023. Before 15 November 2023, they will continue to require an EVW to travel to the UK.
- Visitors from Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates will need an ETA to travel to the UK from 22 February 2024, but can apply in advance from 1 February 2024. Before 22 February 2024, they will continue to require an EVW to travel to the UK.