The UK Government has announced the launch of a new electronic authorization for visa-free travelers and for Europeans, called Electronic Travel Authorization UK (ETA UK), with the aim of improving British border control and fully digitizing border systems by 2025.
As explained in a statement, the ETA system will be introduced at the beginning of 2023 and will be fully operational by the end of this year. The ETA system will screen visitors before they arrive in the UK and travelers will provide basic personal details, passport details and certain security information by completing an online ETA application form.
According to the Government, this measure will provide “more accurate” information on the number of people traveling to the United Kingdom and the countries of origin, in addition to making the country “an even safer destination” by being able to detect threats much earlier.
The British Home Secretary, Priti Patel, has explained that the ETA UK is not a visa and that Europeans and travelers from countries like the United States and Canada will maintain their visa exemption, but “will need an ETA to cross the border of the United Kingdom”.
The validity period of the UK ETA has not yet been announced, but the British government has stated that it is based on the US ESTA system, so it is likely that it “will be valid for at least two years and for multiple trips to Britain”. Currently, most visa-exempt visitors can stay in the UK for a maximum of six months.
Arab countries will be the first to benefit
Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) passport holders will be the first nationalities to benefit from the new UK visa waiver system, once it comes into effect in 2023.
Thus, the ETA UK The ETA will first be extended to the citizens of these countries: United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain.
(Reference image source: Tomek Baginski, Unsplash)