UNITED KINGDOM: Government to Implement ETA Scheme

January 13, 2023

From January 2023, the government of the United Kingdom will be implementing an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) scheme as part of their universal “permission to travel” requirement.

The scheme will be implemented for “non-visa nationals” who do not require a visa before traveling to the UK and nationalities entitled to the Electronic Visa Waiver. Those eligible will receive a pre-approved digital travel authorization to enter the UK. Through this scheme, the UK government aims to strengthen security checks in advance of an individual’s arrival and should also result in a more seamless entry process at the UK border for all travellers.

This scheme will be rolled out in stages and is anticipated to be fully in force by the end of 2024. The first stage will be in private beta testing. The second will see the scheme rolled out to nationals of Qatar, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, and the third to the rest of the eligible nationalities.


Who will need an Electronic Travel Authorisation visa waiver to enter the UK?

The full list of eligible countries are yet to be confirmed but it is expected that non-visa nationals such as those from EEA member states, Australia, USA, New Zealand, Japan, Brazil, etc will need to apply prior to entering the UK. It will also be rolled out for the Gulf States currently eligible for the Electronic Visa Waiver.

It will not be required for British or Irish nationals or those with valid permission to enter or remain in the UK.

The ETA will be required for those wishing to enter the UK for transit purposes or as visitors for Tourism, Business, Short Term study, and Medical Treatment.

What will the application process be?

Individuals applying for an ETA will be required to complete a short application form and provide their biographic, biometric and contact details. This information will then be checked and assessed to determine whether the person can travel to the UK. Individuals are expected to receive their ETA within a short time of submitting their application.

Is the ETA a visa?

The ETA is not a visa. On arrival at the UK border, an individual will still need to obtain leave to enter, as per the current process.

Will there be a fee?

Fees have yet to be released although it is likely to be in line with similar schemes available in countries such as USA, Australia, and Canada.

What will happen if I don’t apply for an ETA before traveling?

Airline carriers will be expected to confirm that an ETA has been obtained prior to travelling to the UK. Otherwise, individuals may be liable to a penalty charge.

UK Visas and Immigration will use interactive “advance passenger information” (API) to confirm whether an individual has the appropriate permission to travel to the UK and return an electronic message to the airline carrier confirming the same.


Further information

Once the scheme is available, employers should ensure that eligible employees intending to visit the UK for business purposes apply for their ETA in advance.

Newland Chase will continue monitoring any developments.

Organisations and individuals impacted by this development are encouraged to contact a Newland Chase immigration specialist for case-specific advice.

For general advice and information on immigration and business travel to the UK, please contact us.