The Home Office has recently begun operating an electronic travel authorisation (ETA) scheme which allows nationals of certain countries to travel to the UK without a visa. The scheme will replace Electronic Visa Waivers (EVW) and the Home Office state that it will allow those eligible to ‘benefit from cheaper and smoother travel’.
Since 15 November 2023, ETAs have been mandatory for nationals of Qatar. From 1 February 2024, individuals from Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates will be eligible to apply, provided they are travelling on or after 22 February 2024. The Home Office plans to eventually roll out the ETA scheme worldwide to any persons who do not require a visa to visit the UK or do not hold a UK immigration status.
Applicants will be able to apply for an ETA instead of a visa if they meet the following requirements:
- They are coming to the UK for up to six months for the purpose of tourism, visiting family and friends, business or short-term study; or
- They are coming to the UK for up to three months under the Creative Worker visa concession; or
- They are transiting through the UK.
The Creative Worker visa concession is available for individuals who:
- have a valid Temporary Work – Creative Worker certificate of sponsorship;
- are coming to work in the UK for three months or less; and
- do not normally need a visa to enter the UK as a visitor.
Applicants will not require an ETA if they have already been granted a visa or have permission to live, work or study in the UK. The ETA is intended for short visits and not for people intending to work or stay on a long-term basis in the UK.
The application for an ETA will cost a total of £10 which is non-refundable and applications can be completed either using the UK ETA app or the online application form. As part of the application, each person applying will need to provide photographs of their passport and a passport-style photo of their face. They will further be required to answer questions on suitability and criminality.
The Home Office has advised that processing time for applications for ETAs is around three working days.
Once the application for an ETA is granted, the applicant will receive an email confirmation and the ETA will automatically be linked to their passport. An ETA will usually be valid for two years and allows the holder to enter the UK for an unlimited amount of times during that period.