US citizens will soon be able to apply for a permit before traveling to the UK and pay a small fee to enter the country as part of the country’s upcoming e-Travel Authorization scheme.
The ETA scheme, according to a British official at the British Consulate General, is aimed at securing the UK’s borders. The move is part of the UK’s plan to fully digitize its borders by 2025.
“This scheme will give the UK greater control over our borders and close down threats to the UK, while giving individuals and carriers greater certainty about their ability to travel to the UK.” According to the website of the British government.
The scheme is expected to be fully implemented by the end of 2023, and the ‘travel authorisation’ requirement will apply to travelers entering or transiting the UK without a visa or special immigration status, including visa-exempt nationals from the US. However, getting an ETA is not a regular visa.
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ETA processes are already in place in other countries. In 2022, the US implemented a requirement for certain visitors that cost them $21. The European Union is also seeking to establish an ETA.
Here’s what we know about the UK’s upcoming ETA scheme.
How does the ETA process work?
The new scheme shouldn’t put too much strain on your travel planning. Officials say the application process is expected to be quick and easy.
The ETA application process can be completed online in minutes. Travelers should make sure they complete the process “a few days before leaving for the UK” To apply, people will need a valid passport, travel details, a valid email address and a credit or debit card to pay online.
The typical time for the approval process is between 48-72 hours. Any errors in your application may result in a delay in processing or rejection.
Once approved, you can stay in the UK for business or tourism for up to six months. Short-term research and treatment are also valid goals for ETA.
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Who does ETA apply to?
Citizens without a visa need to apply for an ETA. The list of approved countries will be announced later, but includes:
- European Union
- Other European countries such as Norway, Iceland, Andorra, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Vatican and Monaco
- Visa-free countries such as Australia, Canada, and the United States
How much is ETA?
Officials say the fee will be small, but the exact cost has not yet been announced.
How long is the ETA valid? Do I have to apply for each trip?
An ETA is valid for two years and allows for multiple trips to the UK
What if I do not apply for an ETA?
Permits will be verified before travel, and carriers will check people’s forms either in printed form or digitally. If you arrive without a travel permit, you will be fined.
The Citizenship and Borders Bill makes it a criminal offense for someone to attempt to obtain an ETA by deception.