Anyone travelling to the UK from the year 2024 onwards will need to be familiar with the new ETA system. This upcoming programme will be replacing the current system of visa waivers. Travellers from the Bahamas, along with visitors from many other countries, must apply for an ETA before entering the country. In this guide, you’ll learn how to do that and what to expect from the new system.
What is the UK ETA for Bahamian Citizens?
The ETA stands for Electronic Travel Authorisation and is a new system for the UK. However, it is based on existing programmes in other countries. In particular, it is very similar to the ESTA in the United States and the ETA in Canada. The British ETA is part of the government’s programme of digitalising the country’s borders. When the new system comes into effect, the government will be able to have more oversight of the people entering and leaving the country. It will create a stronger screening process for travellers.
The UK ETA for Bahamian citizens takes the form of a digital permit. An ETA holder has been granted permission to enter the United Kingdom and can stay in the country for up to six months. It is not the same as a visa, and the application process is much simpler and quicker than a visa application.
How Does the ETA Affect the Citizens of the Bahamas?
Like other Commonwealth nations, the Bahamas has a visa waiver agreement with the UK. This means that citizens of the Bahamas can enter the UK without a visa. Travellers from the Bahamas, along with those from a number of other countries, will be affected by the new ETA programme. They will still not need a visa to visit the UK, but they will have to apply for an ETA.
The UK ETA for Bahamian citizens will be issued to visitors coming to the country for a short period (less than six months) for a number of different purposes. These reasons may include the following:
• Business trips
• Short-term courses or study programmes
• Visits to friends and family
• Medical treatments
There are exceptions to the system, and some Bahamian citizens will need to apply for a visa if they are coming to the UK. In general, if they want to spend more than six months in the UK, they will need to apply for a visa. The same is true if they would like to work while in the United Kingdom. The visa application process is completely separate from the ETA.
Applying for the UK ETA for Bahamian Citizens
At present, all details of the ETA programme have not yet been finalised, and aspects of the system may change as the start date draws nearer. However, some information has been released. This gives travellers an idea of what they can expect from the ETA application process.
To learn more about the system, visitors should take a look at the list of ETA requirements. All travellers who hope to go to the UK should be ready in advance with these requirements. Some of these ETA requirements include the following:
• A valid biometric passport from a country on the eligibility list.
• A recent digital passport photo.
• Personal information, which will include data on the date of birth, employment information, contact details, etc.
• The reason for the traveller’s visit to the UK.
• Details about the planned trip to the UK, such as an address while in the country.
• Payment for the ETA application fee.
• Disclosure of any criminal record, immigration offences and membership (past or present) of proscribed groups or organisations.
The last point on the list is designed to help screen out security risks. Travellers who are considered to present a threat to the safety of the UK and its citizens will have their ETA application denied.
Travellers will need to apply for the ETA online. This is a fully digital system, so no paper-based alternatives will be made available.
Processing the UK ETA for Bahamian Citizens
Before an ETA application can be processed, applicants will need to pay a fee. This is non-refundable and must be paid in full. Once it is paid and the application form has been completely filled out, the application will move to the processing stage.
An ETA can take up to 72 hours before being approved or denied. If an application is denied, travellers will be able to appeal the decision. They may need to apply for a visa instead. This is a longer, more complicated process and may take significantly more time.
It is expected that carriers will make an approved ETA a condition of carriage. Therefore, passengers should make sure they complete their application well in advance of travelling. If they are not able to show an approved ETA when they are at the departing airport, they may be denied boarding.
Travelling With the UK ETA for Bahamian Citizens
Once a traveller has had their ETA application approved, they have permission to stay in the United Kingdom for up to six months. They cannot work in the country. The UK consists of four constituent countries: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. An ETA holder can travel between these four countries freely, using whatever means of transport they prefer. The ETA does not extend to the Republic of Ireland, which is an independent country.
The ETA is only valid for the United Kingdom. Bahamians who wish to visit other European countries as part of their trip should look up the relevant entry requirements. The UK is not a member of the European Union or the Schengen zone. Travellers are encouraged to review the UK ETA FAQ page for additional details.
Bahamians in the United Kingdom
The Bahamas became independent from the United Kingdom in 1973. It remains a Commonwealth country and has a close relationship with the UK. Many Bahamians choose to visit the UK for reasons of tourism, while others come to visit friends and family who have settled there.