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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)?

PLEASE NOTE: as of 22 February 2022, the Electronic Visa Waiver has now been completely replaced by the Electronic Travel Authorisation. 

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. 

Previously, only nationals of the countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council required an EVW:

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

Nationals of the above countries needed to apply for an EVW for every trip they made to the UK. This is no longer the case. 

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

After 1 February 2024, nationals of the Gulf Cooperation Council and Jordan who plan on travelling to the UK on or after 22 February 2024, can apply for Electronic Travel Authorisation. The ETA has officially been introduced as of 22 November 2024.

Before this date, only Qatari nationals could 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 to 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; this is currently only available to nationals of Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. 

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.

We offer a FREE 10-minute consultation to all new clients. During this, you can tell us your issue and find out if we can help you or not. After this, you can arrange a longer, paid consultation that lasts either 30 minutes or an hour, in which you will be given immigration advice. 

Ready for assistance?

If you have any questions, or want to book an appointment with one of our legal experts, contact Woodcock Law today. Call us on +44 (0)20 7712 1705 or email

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