Citizens of GCC Nations, Jordan Can Now Enjoy Travel Benefits of the UK ETA

| February 23, 2024
Citizens of GCC Nations, Jordan Can Now Enjoy Travel Benefits of the UK ETA

The new United Kingdom Electronic Travel Authorization (UK ETA) scheme is now mandatory for the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and Jordanian citizens.

The GCC bloc comprises Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Saudi Arabia.

Starting 22 February 2024, GCC and Jordan nationals must have a valid ETA when traveling to the UK.

Travelers from Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan have been able to apply for an ETA since 1 February 2024.

Qatar was the first nation to be able to benefit from using the UK ETA for travel to the UK since November 2023.

“The ETA will improve the experience of traveling to the UK for the thousands of visitors from the Gulf and Jordan,” UK Home Office Secretary James Cleverly said via a statement.

The ETA is a digital travel permit that will be mandatory for all travelers who can visit the UK without a visa by the end of 2024.

ETA for Gulf visitors to boost UK tourism

The UK received almost 800,000 Gulf visitors in 2022, contributing around £2 billion of tourism spending during their stays in the UK.

This makes the Gulf the second-largest tourism market for the UK economy after the United States.

Lord Ahmad, UK Minister of State, believes both the UK and Gulf nations will benefit from enhanced trade, education, and tourism ties resulting from the ETA.

VisitBritain CEO Patricia Yates said they are also working with travel and trade partners in the Gulf to promote UK destinations.

“We look forward to welcoming even more visitors to experience our vibrant and dynamic tourism offer,” she added.

ETA makes travel to the UK cheaper for Gulf visitors

A UK ETA application costs £10 each. This makes travel to the UK cheaper for Gulf bloc and Jordanian nationals.

The ETA replaces the electronic visa waiver (EVW) required for GCC citizens visiting the UK. An EVW costs £10 each.

It also removes the visa requirement for short stays in the UK for Jordanian visitors. A UK Standard Visitor visa starts at £115.

Unlike the EVW or Standard Visitor visa, Gulf bloc and Jordanian citizens do not need to apply for an ETA for each visit to the UK.

A UK ETA is valid for two years and allows unlimited short trips to the UK of up to six months per visit.

Transiting travelers or those coming to the UK for leisure, short-course study, and permitted business activities will benefit from the ETA.

It can also be used for the Creative Worker visa concession and medical treatments, provided all other requirements are met.

ETA streamlines travel to the UK

The ETA is not a visa but a digital travel permit similarly used by other countries.

It works like the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) of the United States or Canada’s Electronic Travel Authority (eTA).

The application process for an ETA is also quick and easy. There is no need to visit consulates or visa offices.

Applicants must provide biographical and biometric details and answer questions regarding their eligibility and criminal history, if any.

They can complete the online ETA application within minutes and receive a decision in three days.

Additionally, travelers only need to apply for an ETA every two years, or when their passport expires, to continue visiting the UK.

Since it is an electronic document, travelers do not need to bring a printout of their ETA. It will be linked to their passport.

Airlines, railway operators, and maritime companies can check travelers’ permission to travel to the UK by scanning their passports.

Why the ETA is being introduced to non-visa travelers

The ETA system aims to help improve border control security and streamline the immigration process for pre-screened travelers.

It will only affect non-visa travelers, including European Union (EU) citizens. UK visas are still required for those working or staying in the UK for more than six months.

The UK government will continue to roll out ETA applications and enforcement on a nationality basis throughout 2024.

It will announce when other nationalities can apply with sufficient time for UK travelers to prepare for the new scheme.

BY mid-2025, the EU will also introduce ETIAS, or the Electronic Travel Information and Authorization System.

Once enforced, British citizens must obtain one before traveling to the EU’s Schengen Area.