The UK Government has revealed more details about its recently announced new entry system, Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA), for foreign nationals entering the UK. The new system will be introduced by the Home Office in October 2023, as part of the government’s plan to increase border security and prevent the arrival of dangerous travellers.
The scheme, which is set to be fully introduced by the end of 2024, will affect visitors from countries whose citizens do not currently require a visitor visa to enter the UK, including citizens of European countries, the USA and Australia. The scheme will not apply to British and Irish passport holders, those with UK-settled status, and those with “permission to live, work, or study” in the UK.
The new scheme replaces the Electronic Visa Waiver (EVW) system and is expected to be applied to Qatari nationals in November and then expanded to Jordan, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Saudi Arabia and UAE nationals in February 2024.
Application Procedure For ETAs
Applications for ETAs can be submitted through the UK government website or via an ETA app. As part of the application process, individuals will be required to answer a series of questions regarding their suitability and provide biometric information. The application costs a fee of £10 per applicant and a decision is expected to be made within three days.
The ETAs will be required from travellers on trains, ferries and airlines coming into the UK, and operators are expected to verify the ETAs before departure to the UK.
The UK Border Force will examine the traveller’s ETA upon arrival and will ask additional questions before allowing entry. According to the government:
“An ETA does not guarantee entry to the UK.”
The ETA is valid for two years and can be used to make multiple visits to the UK. However, if your passport expires in less than two years, you will need to get a new ETA.
The UK Government also insists that all connecting travellers must obtain an ETA. However, travellers from the Republic of Ireland to Northern Ireland will not be checked but are expected to have an ETA.
The ETA is similar to the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) in the US, which determines whether visitors are eligible to enter the country through the Visa Waiver Program.
The introduction of ETAs could present more difficulties for London Heathrow Airport as a transit hub and can lead to a drop in passenger numbers as experienced last year.
Experts Raise Concerns About The ETAs
Some experts have expressed concerns about how this could affect the aviation industry as they predict that this will negatively impact Britain’s largest airport and result in fewer passengers for British Airways and Virgin Atlantic.
Paul Charles, Virgin Atlantic’s former Communications Director and Director of the PC Agency, expressed his concerns about the ETAs to The Independent. According to him:
“BA and Virgin Atlantic rely on transit passengers to fill their long-haul flights, make a profit and employ more people. Taxing transit will turn away tens of thousands of people who will find an easier hub.”
Rob Burgess, editor of the frequent flyer website Head for Points, also spoke to The Independent saying:
“Why would anyone pay £40 for a family of four to get an ETA purely so they can transit in the UK on the way from, say, the US to Croatia? All of the other European hub carriers will be laughing as they pick up this business.”
However, the government believes ETAs will secure the border and give accurate data on the number of people entering and leaving the country. According to The immigration minister, Robert Jenrick:
“ETAs will enhance our border security by increasing our knowledge about those seeking to come to the UK and preventing the arrival of those who pose a threat. It will also improve travel for legitimate visitors.”
What are your thoughts about the ETA? Share your thoughts in the comment section.