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The UK Government Announces New Fee to Enter the Country

The UK is set to introduce an entry fee to foreign nationals entering the country from 2024 onwards in a plan to digitise Border Control.

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Details of the new Electronic Travel Authorisation System

Earlier this year, the UK government announced the introduction of the Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) program. This is part of a larger plan to modernise the UK border by 2025, with the goal of enhancing both border security and the visitor experience. The ETA acts as a virtual permit for individuals who are visiting or passing through the UK for short stays and don’t require a visa.

Modelled after the United States’ ESTA system, the fully digital process greatly reduces the need for traditional paperwork. Much like how UK citizens must complete an online ESTA application before going to the US, the ETA follows a similar process for foreign travellers coming to the UK.

Though the exact requirements for obtaining an ETA haven’t been officially revealed by the UK government yet, potential international visitors should be ready to provide their passport details, biometric information, and answer security questions online to secure their ETA. Upon a successful review, permission to travel to the UK will be granted.

The ETA program is set to replace the current Electronic Visa Waiver (EVW) system.

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Quick Facts about the new ETA scheme

  • The ETA, which costs £10 to apply for (approximately $12.50 or €8.50), offers pre-authorisation for entry into the UK.
  • Approval for the ETA may take up to 72 hours, and once granted, it remains valid for up to 2 years.
  • It’s important to note that the ETA is specifically valid for UK entry only; it is not applicable for any other purpose.
  • The ETA operates as a pre-authorisation system and should not be confused with a traditional visa.

Who will need an ETA to enter the UK?

The ETA applies to individuals eligible to travel to the UK without a visa. This includes tourists, those visiting family or friends, individuals coming for business or studies within a six-month period, those with the Creative Worker visa concession, and those transiting through the UK. Irish citizens are exempt from the ETA requirement.

Phased Implementation for Global Travellers

The UK is introducing this new system gradually. Commencing in October 2023, it will be applicable to travellers from Qatar. Following that, from February 2024, it will be expanded to citizens of Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE.

Looking ahead, the ETA system’s reach is set to expand even further. By 2024, it is anticipated that all foreign visitors who currently enjoy visa-free access to the UK will fall under the ETA umbrella. This includes travellers from the EU, as well as individuals from countries like Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Israel, New Zealand, South Korea, Canada, Hong Kong, Singapore, the United States, and more before the close of 2024.

For more information and updates on the ETA system’s implementation, reach out to an adviser at IAS today on 0333 305 9375, and stay up to date with official government announcements. 

We can help you if you need help with your visa application or immigration case.

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