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2 November 2023

Visiting the UK: What is the difference between the EVW and the ETA?

If you are travelling to the UK from a country in the Gulf Cooperation Council, an EVW is currently required, but from 2024, an ETA is needed instead. Learn what the differences are below.
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
The ETA and EVW

What is the Electronic Visa Waiver (EVW) and the Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA)?

The Electronic Visa Waiver and the Electronic Travel Authorisation are electronic travel documents. They confirm your identity and give you permission to travel to the UK. 

Currently, only nationals of the countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council require an EVW:

Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

As of 1 November 2023, nationals of the countries listed above are required to hold an Electronic Visa Waiver for every trip they take to the UK. 

The Electronic Travel Authorisation is a new type of travel authorisation document that will be slowly rolled out in 2024.

As of 1 November 2023, if travelling on or after 15 November 2023, only Qatar nationals can apply for an Electronic Travel Authorisation.

After 1 February 2024, anyone travelling on or after 22 February 2024, nationals of the Gulf Cooperation Council and Jordan can apply for an Electronic Travel Authorisation.

If you are a national of a different country, then neither of the above are required. You may need a Visitor Visa instead.

By the end of 2024, all countries that do not currently require a visa will need an ETA to travel to the UK.

What is the difference between the EVW and ETA?

The Electronic Visa Waiver:

The EVW is an online travel form application. It is only valid for the single journey you specify on your application. The application process will ask you for the following information:

  • Dates of arrival and departure
  • The address of where you are staying
  • All information on your current, valid passport

It will cost you £30 to apply. Everyone, including minors and babies, must apply.

The Electronic Travel Authorisation:

The ETA is also an online application, but it is not specific to one journey. Instead, it lasts up to two years and allows you to travel in and out of the UK for up to 6 months a year. The application will ask for the following information:

  • All information on your current, valid passport
  • A passport image of yourself

It will cost you £10 to apply. Everyone, including minors and babies, must apply. It is recommended to apply for the ETA using the dedicated app, but you can apply online also.

When do I need an Electronic Visa Waiver or Electronic Travel Authorisation?

You need to apply for an EVW or an ETA when travelling to the UK for:

  • Tourism
  • Business (not work)
  • Travelling through the UK to somewhere else

You can also use an ETA for the Creative Worker Visa if you are in the UK for three months or less.

You can not do the following on either the EVW or ETA:

  • Get married
  • Work

Preparing for your arrival to the UK

Electronic Visa Waiver:

You must apply 3 months – 48 hours before you travel.
After 24 hours you will receive an email with your EVW. At UK border control you can show a printed OR a digital version.

You must update your travel plans on your EVW if they change.

Electronic Travel Authorisation:

You can apply when you like, as it often only takes 3 days to get a decision. There is a payment of £10 as a part of application. 

You can use it multiple times over the two years it lasts for, so it may be best to complete your application 7-5 days before your trip to ensure you get maximum usage out of it.

Your ETA will be linked to the passport you used to apply with. If your passport expires or changes, you will need a new one.

Please note: You will still be required to pass through UK border control and it does not automatically ensure UK entry.

Helpful links:

Here is a list of helpful links to help get your application started. 

The link to apply for the ETA, currently only available to nationals of Qatar. 

Apply for the EVW here. This is needed each time you wish to travel to the UK.

If you are wanting to get married in the UK, you need to apply for a Marriage Visa.

If you require immigration advice, we offer a FREE 10-minute consultation to all new clients.

Ready for assistance?

If you have any questions about the changes or want legal advice, contact
Woodcock Law & Notary Public today. Contact us by phone on 0330 133 6490 or
by email at info@woodcocklaw.co.uk.

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