UK ETA Requirement Extended to New Nationalities
As of February 1, 2024, citizens of Bahrain, Jordan, Oman, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE need to apply for an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) for travel or transit through the UK for tourism, business, or short-term educational purposes.
This is the second phase of the ETA scheme launched for Qatari citizens in November 2023. The scheme is planned to expand to even more nationalities by 2025.
ETA at a glance
- ETA is required for visa-free travelers; under the new ETA scheme, all visa-free nationals planning to visit the United Kingdom for short-term periods (up to 6 months) must obtain an electronic permit to travel to or transit through the UK
- The ETA requirements also apply to creative workers coming to the UK under the Creative Worker Visa
- The ETA application can be completed online and requires providing personal data, passport details, and uploading a face photograph
- The UK ETA is issued for two years (or until the applicant's passport expires first) and permits numerous entries; each visit can last up to 6 months
- There are some exceptions for Irish nationals and non-Irish nationals lawfully residing in Ireland who do not need to apply for the UK ETA
Background of UK ETA implementation
The ETA scheme was introduced in November 2023 for Qatari nationals who have been obliged to apply for an ETA since November 15, 2023.
The United Kingdom Electronic Travel Authorization was introduced as a part of the UK government's effort to digitalize the immigration system by 2025.
Under the ETA scheme, more accurate information regarding the number of incoming travelers to the UK can be gathered, which improves border security.
Future expansion of the UK ETA system
The ETA scheme is supposed to be gradually expanded to other countries across 2024.
The system is expected to become fully operational by 2025 when remaining visa-free countries will become eligible for UK ETA application. The exact date is yet unknown, and some delays are possible.
The commencement dates for the European Union's similar digital entry-monitoring systems (EES and ETIAS) have been delayed and are now set for Q4 2024 and Q2 2025, respectively.