UK Planning Electronic Travel Authorization System for EU Citizens Traveling to Northern Ireland

The UK plans to introduce the Electronic Travel Authorization System for travellers from the European Union who wish to enter Northern Ireland. The system will start operation by 2025.

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The United Kingdom government has announced plans of implementing a new system under which travelers from the European Union would need to receive authorization in order to cross the Irish borders between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

This travel authorization would be applicable to all visitors excluding only British or Irish citizens. In the case of citizens of the European Union, the authorization would resemble the already functioning US ESTA, or ETIAS, which is planned to be eventually introduced in 2022.

The recently announced UK system for travelers willing to visit Northern Ireland is a distant plan expected to become effective not earlier than by 2025.

Reactions to the plans of the new system introduction

Northern Ireland responded without enthusiasm to the announcement of the new system planned to be introduced by the UK authorities. This idea is perceived by them as the hardening of the border, while both the European Union and the United Kingdom have made attempts not to make it more difficult to travel between countries after Brexit. However, Northern Ireland politicians perceive its introduction as a new unnecessary bureaucracy for many foreign travelers.

Kevin Foster, British Minister for Future Borders and Immigration, commented on the plans of implementing such a system that this travel authorization will be obtainable online and the formalities will be very simple not engaging any paperwork upon crossing the Irish border.

Since the beginning of Brexit, UK politicians have been debated the idea of creating an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA). Its introduction is primarily aimed at strengthening border controls and ensuring the safety of travelers and UK and Irish citizens.


The European Union is to implement a similar system as the UK has recently announced. This EU system, called ETIAS, was planned to start operating earlier but due to the coronavirus situation, its implementation had to be postponed. ETIAS, which is finally to start operating by the end of the next year, is a travel authorization for travelers from countries of  Schengen Area who can go to European countries visa-free. From next year, nationals of Schengen Area countries, including the British, will need to obtain ETIAS

ETIAS (the European Travel Information and Authorization System) will help travelers from non-European countries to obtain a necessary travel authorization entirely online. Currently, the list of ETIAS eligible countries includes 60 various nationalities. It will be issued for 3 years as a multiple-entry authorization so its holder will be able to use one ETIAS many times. What is more, each stay will be possible to last even 3 months and cover different travel purposes, like business, tourism, medical treatment, or tranist.

The entire application is to be completed online without any single embassy visit.

Katarzyna Żyła

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