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Electronic Travel Authorisation

In 2023, the Home Office announced plans to introduce a new visa scheme for non-visa nationals entering the UK. The Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) resembles the systems already adopted by the U.S. and Canada, and has already rolled out for nationals of a few countries.

person holding phone

What is an ETA?

An ETA is prior digital authorisation by the Home Office permitting non-visa nationals entry to the UK. It is linked to your passport number and will be required in advance of your travel date.


How much does an ETA cost?

An ETA costs £10. Each ETA permits multiple journeys to the UK.


How long is an ETA valid for?

An ETA is valid for 2 years or until your passport expires, whichever is sooner. Once you have your ETA you will not be required to reapply for future trips to the UK, unless you change your passport.


Do i need an ETA?

Eventually, all non-visa nationals will require an ETA before travelling to the UK. The Scheme initially opened to Qatari nationals from 15 November 2023, and later to nationals of Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia from 1 February 2024.

You will need an ETA to:

  • come to the UK for up to 6 months for tourism, visiting family and friends, business or study

  • come to the UK for up to 3 months on the Creative Worker visa concession

  • transit through the UK – including if you’re not going through UK border control

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Who doesn't need an ETA?

If you are a British national, have permission to live, work or study in the UK, or other entry clearance or permission to stay in the UK, you will not need an ETA.


How can i apply for an ETA?

You will be able to apply for an ETA online or via the dedicated mobile application. The process involves standard personal and immigration information, in addition to your photograph and criminal history. You must ensure that you enter all of your details correctly as errors could result in delays or a refusal. Each person will need their own ETA, including children. Each traveller's application must be completed separately, but it will be possible to apply on behalf of a friend or family member if they have given their permission for you to do so.


How long will it take?

The process could take as little as a few minutes up to several days. The standard processing time is expected to be approximately 3 working days. It is important to ensure you apply as soon as possible to allow time for any potential delays.


My ETA was approved

If your application for an ETA is successful, you will receive a confirmation email that your ETA has been approved. Your ETA will be digitally linked to your passport. The airline and Border Force agents will have access to your ETA status when conducting their checks.


My ETA was refused

You will be notified by email if your application for an ETA is refused. This could be due to a previous breach of immigration rules, such as overstaying a visa, or because of past criminal convictions. The same justifications for refusal of entry clearance applications are applicable to ETA applications. In the event of a refusal, your application fee will not be refunded and you will not be able to challenge or appeal the decision. You will normally have to apply for a Visitor or Transit visa instead.


What Happens If I Forget to Apply for an ETA?

If you attempt to enter the UK without an ETA, your airline will likely not permit you to travel. You may also be denied entry at the border and required to return to your country of departure if you somehow managed to travel in the first place. It will be a criminal offence under the Nationality and Borders Act 2022 to attempt to enter the UK without an ETA.


 

If you are unsure whether the new Electronic Travel Authorisation scheme will apply to you, contact us for further information.

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