The UK is currently in the process of developing a new programme of digital travel permits, the ETA. This system, set to be introduced by the year 2024, will replace the current visa waiver scheme. South Korean citizens are among the travellers who will be affected by the introduction of the ETA. Keep reading to learn all about the system and discover how to apply for an ETA.
What Is the UK ETA for South Korean Citizens?
In recent years, many countries around the world have developed digital travel permits for visitors. Examples include the ESTA in the United States, the ETA in Canada and South Korea’s own K-ETA programme. Like these, the UK’s new ETA, or Electronic Travel Authorisation, will allow visitors to enter without applying for a visa, using a digital travel document instead.
The ETA is part of a broader British government plan to digitalise the country’s borders. When it comes into effect, it will give the government more oversight and control over people entering the country, allowing stronger border control and making it easier to identify potential threats to the UK’s security.
How Will South Korean Travellers Be Affected?
The UK has a list of 92 countries with which it maintains visa waiver agreements. The Republic of Korea is one of the countries on the list. This means that South Korean citizens do not need a visa to visit the UK. At present, holders of a South Korean passport can enter the country without applying for any further documents. This is set to change when the new ETA system is introduced, as Koreans will now have to apply for an ETA before travelling.
The UK is a popular destination for South Koreans, who travel there for a variety of reasons. Some of these reasons include the following:
• Business trips
• Courses of study
• Visiting friends and family
• Medical treatment
Regardless of an individual traveller’s reason for coming to the UK, they will need to apply for a UK ETA for South Korean citizens. The application form is “one size fits all”, so everyone will apply in the same way, no matter what their reason for travelling might be. The ETA will give them permission to spend up to six months in the UK.
There are some circumstances in which travellers from the Republic of Korea will need to apply for a visa to go to the UK. This will not change with the introduction of the ETA system. South Koreans who want to work in the UK, live there permanently, or spend more than six months in the country must apply for a visa. The visa application system remains the same as it is at present and will not be affected by the ETA programme.
Applying for the UK ETA for South Korean Citizens
South Korean travellers can apply for the ETA via an online form that will be issued by the British government. Because the ETA is part of a digital programme, there will be no alternative paper-based forms available.
The online application form will ask travellers to complete a number of fields with information about themselves, their backgrounds and their travel plans. Some information about these ETA requirements has been released, but it is still subject to change. The system has not yet been finalised, so not all information is available. For example, the ETA will have an application fee, but the price has not been confirmed yet. Although this information may change, it is still worth consulting, as it gives travellers a general idea of what the application will be like. Some of the requirements include the following:
• A valid biometric passport issued by one of the countries on the eligibility list.
• A recent digital passport photo.
• Personal information. This will include data such as date of birth, employment information, contact details, etc.
• The purpose of the traveller’s visit to the UK.
• Details about the planned trip to the UK, such as an address while in the country.
• A debit or credit card for the ETA application fee.
• Disclosure of a criminal record, past immigration offences and membership (past or present) of any proscribed groups or organisations.
One reason behind the introduction of the new ETA system is security. Travellers will be asked to disclose information about their past so that the British authorities can identify potential security risks. If an applicant has ties to terrorist groups, organised crime or gangs, their application may be denied.
Applicants should take care when completing their forms. It will need to be completed in full and the application fee paid before the ETA application can move to the processing stage.
Processing the UK ETA for South Korean Citizens
The ETA is expected to take up to 72 hours to be processed. If it is approved, a traveller does not need to take any further steps. They now have permission to enter the UK and can begin their journey. They will need to present their ETA at the boarding gate of their departure airport and again on arrival in the UK.
If an ETA is denied, the applicant has the option to appeal. Applicants whose appeals fail may still have the possibility of applying for a visa to travel to the UK instead.
The ETA is likely to be made a condition of carriage. This means that if a passenger is unable to show an approved UK ETA for South Korean citizens at their departure airport may be denied boarding. For this reason, it is essential that travellers complete their applications early, allowing enough time for processing.
Travelling With the UK ETA for South Korean Citizens
An approved ETA gives a South Korean traveller permission to enter the United Kingdom and stay there for up to six months. During this time, they can travel as they wish between the four constituent countries of the UK, which are England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. They cannot work, but they can enrol on a course of study.
As the United Kingdom is not a member of the Schengen common travel zone or the European Union, the ETA is only valid within the United Kingdom and does not allow visitors to enter other European countries. The UK’s only land border is with the Republic of Ireland, an independent country in which the ETA has no validity. The European Union’s own system of digital travel permits, known as the ETIAS, is currently in development and is expected to be launched in late 2023.