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27 September 2022

Electronic Travel Authorisation: what you need to know

If you are planning on travelling to the UK from 2023, you may need an Electronic Travel Authorisation.
Estimated reading time: 2 minutes
The ETA: what you need to know

PLEASE NOTE: the Electronic Travel Authorisation has now been implemented as of 22 February 2024, and is now being slowly rolled out for citizens of countries around the world.

The roll-out of the UK’s new system to authenticate the permissions of visa-exempt travellers is to begin from 2023. 

The new system will form part of the UK’s ‘Permission to Travel Scheme’ and will mean people will need an ETA. The ETA’s implementation is expected to reach full operation by the end of 2023. 

The system will be introduced in phases throughout 2024. The first phase will test the system’s capabilities, while the second phase will introduce it to countries in the Middle East. Finally, the third phase will include citizens from the rest of the world. 

What is the ETA?

The ETA – which stands for Electronic Travel Authorisation – will work as digital travel authorisation for visa-exempt travellers who are visiting the UK. It is not a type of visa. 

Getting an ETA is not the same as getting a visa, and will not include the same steps. It will be meant for use as a digital travel authorisation for visa-exempt travellers who are visiting the UK. 

It will give permission only for a person to board a plane for travel here. Its introduction will be aimed at strengthening the control and compliance of the UK’s borders.

Who will need Electronic Travel Authorisation?

Non-British and non-Irish citizens who are visa-exempt, and so do not need a visa to visit the UK, will need to get ETA before visiting the country. Example countries include the EU, EEA and the United States. Those who have already acquired a visa before travelling to the UK will not need an ETA. 

As of 22 February 2024, citizens of the following countries need an ETA to enter the UK:

  • Bahrain
  • Jordan
  • Kuwait
  • Oman
  • Qatar
  • Saudi Arabia
  • UAE

How to apply for an ETA

Your application must be completed online before you travel to the UK. The process should not take long (around 15 minutes) and a decision will be provided within 78 hours.

The fee for getting an ETA is a relatively low cost of £10.

How long will the ETA last for?

The ETA will be valid for two years. Holders will be able to travel to the UK throughout this period, without applying for another ETA.

If you are an employer, you will need to ensure that anyone travelling to the UK to conduct business for your company has an ETA if they need one. 

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