UK Electronic Travel
Authorisation (ETA) scheme
to launch in October

This autumn, the UK is set to launch the first stage of its phased roll-out of the new Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) scheme.

The ETA is a digital ‘permission to travel’ scheme, which is being introduced to help strengthen the security of the UK border and to improve travel.

Broadly, the ETA is for visitors who do not need a visa for short stays to the UK, or who do not already have a UK immigration status prior to travelling.

Ahead of the scheme opening to Qatari nationals from 25 October, the Home Office has published official guidance on how to apply, how much it costs and key dates for the phased roll-out.

Who needs an ETA?

An ETA will soon be a requirement for people who do not need a visa to come to the UK. It will give you permission to travel to the UK, and it will be electronically linked to your passport.

You will need an ETA if you want to:

  • Visit the UK for up to 6 months for tourism, visiting family and friends, business or short-term study.
  • Come to the UK for up to 3 months on the Creative Worker visa concession.
  • Transit through the UK.

You will not need an ETA if you have either:

  • A British or Irish passport.
  • Permission to live, work or study in the UK.
  • A visa to enter the UK.

The application process

You can apply for an ETA using the UK ETA app or online on the GOV.UK website. You should apply before booking any travel to the UK. Each traveller must get their own ETA, including children and babies, but you can apply on behalf of others.

You will also need to pay a fee when you apply. It will cost £10 per applicant.

The application process will be quick and light-touch. Most applicants will receive a response within 3 working days, with many receiving a result sooner. It may take longer if the Home Office needs to make further checks.

At the border

Once granted, an ETA will be valid for multiple journeys over 2 years, or until the passport you applied with expires, whichever is sooner.

Whilst an ETA grants you permission to travel to the UK, it does not guarantee entry and you will still need to go through passport control at the border.

As your ETA is digitally linked to your passport, you will not need to show a paper copy. Make sure you show the same passport you used to apply for your ETA, and that your passport is valid for the whole of your stay.

Key dates

If you’re from Qatar, you will need an ETA if you are travelling to the UK on or after 15 November 2023. You’ll be able to apply from 25 October.

If you’re from Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates, you’ll need an ETA if you’re travelling to the UK on or after 22 February 2024. You’ll be able to apply from 1 February 2024.

Citizens of other countries do not need to apply for an ETA now, but the scheme will expand to more nationalities later.

Keep up to date with UK immigration news

Smith Stone Walters will continue to monitor the progress of the ETA’s rollout, and will provide further updates in due course. To keep up to date with all the latest UK and global immigration news, please sign up to our free news service.

Or to discuss a specific immigration enquiry with one of our qualified advisors, please contact us today.

Share story
Back to top of page