If you have travelled to countries such as Canada, the USA, Australia, and New Zealand, you may be familiar with the concept of an ETA. Short for electronic travel authorisation, ETAs are used to prevent unwanted visitors from entering the respective country. While they are already used in the previously listed countries, both the EU and UK will soon join the list by using ETAs to protect their borders.
Introduced in the UK’s Nationality and Borders Act 2022, ETAs will need to be applied for by those who do not require a visa to enter the UK, known as non-visa nationals.
ETAs will come into effect for those travelling to the UK from 15th November 2023, when nationals from Qatar will be required to possess an ETA to travel. However, applications will open from 25th October to give enough time for applications to be processed.
For nationals of Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates, you will need to have an ETA if you are travelling to the UK on or after 22nd February 2024.
Nationals of other countries do not need to think about applying for an ETA now, however more countries will be added later. As a result, most travellers to the UK do not need to worry about getting an ETA.
However, the Home Office has previously stated that ETAs will be in place for all relevant nationalities by the end of 2024.
Keep reading to learn more about whether you need to apply for an ETA and how to do so.
Do I need to apply for an ETA?
You need an ETA if you:
- 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 – including if you’re not going through UK border control
However, you will not need an ETA if you have:
- a British or Irish passport
- permission to live, work or study in the UK
- a visa to enter the UK
Furthermore, those who live in Ireland do not need an ETA if they:
- are legally resident in Ireland
- do not need a visa to enter the UK
- are entering the UK from Ireland, Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man
How do I apply for an ETA?
Applying for an ETA will be a rather simple process according to the Home Office. Applicants will be able to apply either through an ETA app or online on GOV.UK. You should then receive a decision within 3 working days, unless further checks are required.
To apply, you will need the following items:
- A valid biometric passport from one of the eligible countries
- The details of your travel
- A credit card or debit card
- A valid email address to receive confirmation
While each traveller must get an ETA, including children and babies, it will be possible to apply on behalf of others.
The cost will be £10 per applicant and will be electronically linked to your passport, meaning you must use the same passport to travel.
You will also receive email confirmation to say if your application has been successful.
How long does my ETA last?
As your ETA lasts for 2 years, you won’t need to apply for a new one every time you travel to the UK. However, if your passport expires in less than 2 years then you will need to get a new ETA.
You will still need to use an E-passport gate or see a Border Officer when entering the UK. However, it should be noted that an ETA does not guarantee you entry to the UK.
What happens if I am refused an ETA?
If this happens then you will be required to apply for a visa instead. These include a standard visitor visa, a transit visa if you are simply transiting through the UK, or a Temporary Work – Creative Worker visa to come to the UK as a creative worker.
Reasons for being refused an ETA may include past criminal convictions or overstaying a visa.
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