UK ETA Eligibility: Who Needs An ETA to Travel to the UK?

All travelers who do not need a visa to visit the United Kingdom (UK) must soon obtain an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) before traveling to England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.

The UK ETA costs £10 per application and is valid for two years, allowing multiple short visits of up to six months. 

This includes visiting the UK for leisure, permitted business activities, and short-course study. Transit travelers and temporary creative workers staying in the UK for up to three months under the Creative visa concession must also have an ETA.

Still unsure if you need a UK ETA? Here are more details on who requires an ETA or is exempt and whether one needs a visa instead.

Who can travel to the UK without a visa?

Non-visa travelers include citizens of countries with visa waiver status with the UK. This includes European Union (EU) citizens and citizens of other countries, such as the United States of America (USA), Canada, Australia, and more. 

The final list of countries whose citizens need an ETA has yet to be confirmed. To start with, travelers from the following 92 nations must apply for and receive a valid UK ETA before traveling to the UK.

Currently, only citizens of Jordan, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) must have a valid ETA to visit the UK. 

The UK Home Office is gradually rolling out the ETA on a nationality basis to ensure a smooth transition. It will soon announce which nationalities can apply for an ETA and need one to visit the UK.  

There will be sufficient notice to ensure that all individuals needing a UK ETA are aware of the new requirement well in advance.

Who does not need an ETA to travel to the UK?

Once the system is fully operational, the UK government expects 30 million ETA applications annually. Still, some individuals are not required to present an ETA when traveling to the UK. These include:

British passport holders

Travelers with British passports do not need an ETA to travel to the UK. All British nationals with a valid British passport are exempt from the ETA scheme.

British Overseas Territories Citizen passport holders  

The updated guidance for ETA exemptions now includes those with British Overseas Territory Citizen passports. 

Irish passport holders

Travelers with Irish passports do not need a UK ETA due to the Common Travel Area (CTA) Arrangement between the UK, the Republic of Ireland, and the Crown Dependencies Guernsey, Jersey, and the Isla of Man.

Select legal residents of Ireland

Legal residents of the Republic of Ireland are exempt from the ETA system only if they meet all three conditions. These are:

  • They are legal residents of the Republic of Ireland.
  • They are non-visa nationals or do not need a visa to visit the UK.
  • They are coming to the UK via The Republic of Ireland, Guernsey, Jersey, or the Isle of Man.

All travelers aged 17 and over must show original and valid proof-of-residency documents issued by the Irish government. These include:

  • Irish driving license
  • Irish learner permit
  • Medical card
  • GP visit card
  • European Health Insurance Card
  • Irish Residence Permit
  • Permanent Residence Certificate
  • National Age Card

Travelers with UK visas

Citizens of countries who are required to obtain a visa for short trips to the UK for up to six months do not need an ETA. Individuals who need a UK visa to work, live, or stay in the country for more than six months are also exempt from the scheme. 

Travelers with UK immigration statuses

Those with immigration status in the UK, including those settled and pre-settled under the European Union Settlement Scheme (EUSS), are also exempt from the ETA system.

Proof of a UK immigration status includes a digital record or an eVisa linked to the travelers’ passports. Physical evidence, such as biometric residence permits (BRP), wet ink stamps, or vignette stickers on passports, is also valid. 

It’s important to note that physical representations of a UK immigration status will soon be obsolete. Travelers who still carry them must secure an eVisa as soon as possible to avoid travel complications.

Do you need a UK ETA or a UK visa?

Regardless of the country that issued your passport, if you plan to work, live, or stay in the UK or stay for more than six months, you must apply for an appropriate UK visa.