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13 November 2023

Digitisation of the UK border: Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA)

As part of the UK Government’s plans to fully digitise the UK border by 2025, a new Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) system will be introduced similar to the e-visa system in the USA and Canada.

By the end of 2024, people who do not need a visa to enter the UK will need to have an ETA before they visit. This will impact millions of travellers.

What is an ETA?

An ETA is a digital permission to travel. 

The ETA scheme will apply to most visitors to the UK who do not need a visa for stays of less than six months, and who do not have any other immigration status prior to travelling.

An ETA will cost £10 per applicant when the scheme opens for nationals from the Gulf states and Jordan, permit multiple journeys and will be valid for two years or until the holder’s passport expires – whichever is sooner.

You can find more information on the upcoming changes by checking out the Home Office’s ETA Factsheet

When will the changes come into effect?

The scheme will operate for nationals from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states and Jordan first. From 25th October 2023, Qatari nationals will be the first to use the scheme followed by nationals from Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia from 1 February 2024. These nationals will move from being visa nationals to non-visa nationals. This also means the Electronic Visa Waiver (EVW) will cease to operate once moved to the ETA scheme. 

A worldwide expansion of the scheme will happen throughout 2024. 

Despite Home Office communications strategies, it is highly likely many will be caught out by the current, and future, changes to the UK border. We know that digitisation of our immigration systems can lead to more issues, so please make sure you are prepared for these pending changes. 

The Home Office have created a video which aims to provide a quick overview of the ETA and who will need one.  

Check out our other work on the Digital Hostile Environment.