New Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) requirement for nationals of Qatar, Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the UAE visiting or transiting the UK

Business and Personal Immigration, 25 July 2023

An Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) is a new requirement for people of certain nationalities who do not need a visa to come to the UK. It gives you permission to travel to the UK, and is electronically linked to your passport.

You’ll need an ETA if you wish to come to the UK for up to 6 months as a visitor for tourism, visiting family and friends, business or study purposes or for up to 3 months on the Creative Worker visa concession. You will also need an ETA if you wish to transit through the UK, whether or not you will be passing through UK border control.

Who needs to obtain an ETA?

From 15 November 2023, if you’re travelling to the UK for one of the above purposes, and you’re a national of Qatar, you’ll need an ETA. You’ll be able to apply from 25 October 2023.

From 22 February 2024, if you’re travelling to the UK for one of the above purposes, and you’re a national of Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates (UAE), you’ll need an ETA.

You will not need an ETA (even if a national of one of the above countries) if you have either a British or Irish passport, permission to live, work or study in the UK or if you hold any other visa to enter the UK.

More nationalities will be added to the scheme at a later date.

How to apply for an ETA: Qatar, Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and UAE nationals

If you need an ETA, you must make sure you apply online before booking any travel to the UK.

You’ll need to apply on the UK ETA app, or online on GOV.UK. You can apply on behalf of others and each traveller must get their own ETA, including children and babies.

An ETA will cost £10 per person and you’ll usually get a decision within 3 working days. It may take longer than 3 working days if further checks need to be made.

If you’re successful in your ETA application

You will receive an email confirmation if your application is approved, and your ETA will be electronically linked to the passport which you applied with.  For this reason, you must use the same passport which you apply with to travel to the UK, and your passport must be valid for the whole of your stay.

When you check in for your journey, you may not be allowed to board without a valid ETA.  As the ETA is digitally linked to your passport, you may not be required to show a paper copy.  Nonetheless, it may be helpful to print the confirmation email for your own records.

While an ETA grants you permission to travel to the UK, it does not grant you entry.  Upon entering the UK, you can either use an eGate if you’re eligible or see a Border Force officer.

How long will your ETA be valid for

Once granted, your ETA will be valid for multiple journeys over 2 years or until the passport you applied with expires – whichever is sooner.  If your passport expires during the 2-year ETA validity period, you will need to apply for and obtain a new ETA.

If you’re unsuccessful in your ETA application

If you’re refused an ETA, you will need to apply for either a Standard Visitor visa to visit the UK, a Creative Worker visa to come to the UK as a Creative Worker or a Transit visa to transit through the UK.

How can we help?

We can provide comprehensive advice to individuals globally seeking to apply for an ETA to visit or transit the UK.  We can advise on how the changes will affect you and ensure that your ETA application complies with all eligibility requirements to ensure your application is successful so you can visit the UK for 2 years.

For more detailed UK immigration advice and for any other questions on this and other UK immigration developments, please contact us at info@viajeukimmigration.com