The United Kingdom (UK) is set to introduce a new Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) scheme in November 2023. The scheme will require non-British and non-Irish citizens who do not require a visa for short stays, including those using the Creative Worker route, to obtain advance permission to enter or transit to the UK. The legislative foundation for the ETA scheme is the Nationality and Borders Act 2022, which empowers the Secretary of State to make Immigration Rules for the ETA scheme. The Immigration Rules, in ‘Appendix Electronic Travel Authorisation,’ outline who is required to obtain an ETA, the application process, ETA validity, and exceptions.
According to reports, EU nationals will not be required to obtain an ETA until after February 2024, while nationals of Qatar will need an ETA from November 15, 2023.
Nationals of six other countries, including Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, will need an ETA from February 22, 2024. The UK government intends to add more countries to the scheme later.
The ETA will be linked electronically to the applicant’s passport and allow them to enter and stay in the UK for up to six months for tourism, business, study, or visiting family or friends. It will also permit transits through the UK and entry for up to three months under the Creative Worker visa concession. The application process for ETA will be through the UK ETA app or online via the government website. The processing time for ETA applications is expected to be around three working days, with the possibility of further checks resulting in longer processing times. The cost of obtaining an ETA is yet to be announced, but it is expected to be lower than a visa application.
Some categories of travellers will be exempted from obtaining an ETA, including British or Irish passport holders, those with permission to live, work, or study in the UK, or those with a UK visa. Legally resident Irish nationals who do not require a visa to enter the UK will also be exempted if they enter from Ireland, Guernsey, Jersey, or the Isle of Man.
The UK government is introducing the ETA scheme to enhance the security of the country’s borders and safeguard its people. The ETA will be a mandatory requirement for non-British and non-Irish citizens travelling to the UK or transiting the country who do not require a visa for short stays. Applicants must apply for ETA electronically via the UK ETA app or the government website. The ETA will be valid for up to six months for various purposes, including tourism, study, business, and visiting family and friends. Exemptions from ETA will be available to some categories of travellers, including British or Irish passport holders, those with permission to live, work or study in the UK, and those with a UK visa. The UK government intends to add more countries to the ETA scheme in the future, and further updates will be provided on the government website.