The UK’s current visa waiver system will soon be changed to the new ETA programme. This system, which is set to be introduced by 2024, will affect Guatemalan travellers. Read on for a complete guide with everything that Guatemalan citizens need to know before travelling to the UK.
What Is the UK ETA for Guatemalan Citizens?
The ETA, which stands for Electronic Travel Authorisation, is a new programme designed to replace the current British system of visa waivers. It is based on systems that have been introduced in recent years in other countries, such as the United States ESTA or Canadian ETA. Like those programmes, the ETA gives the government greater oversight over people coming into the country and provides a stronger way of screening potential security risks.
The ETA is entirely separate from the UK’s visa programme. It is not a visa and has a much simpler application process than a visa would have. Instead, it functions as a kind of digital travel permit, giving holders permission to enter the United Kingdom. When it comes into effect, Guatemalan citizens will be one of the groups affected. They will need to apply for an ETA before travelling to the UK.
How Does the ETA Affect Guatemalan Travellers?
Guatemala is one of the 92 countries that have visa waiver arrangements with the UK. Travellers from these countries can, under the present system, enter the UK without needing to complete any paperwork. This will change under the new programme, as these travellers will need to apply for an ETA.
The UK ETA for Guatemalan citizens gives travellers permission to stay in the UK for up to six months. They may be coming to the UK for a number of different reasons, such as those outlined below:
• Business trips
• Short-term courses or study programmes
• Visits to friends and family
• Medical treatment
Regardless of their reason for visiting the UK, Guatemalan travellers will all go through the same ETA application process. There are some exceptions, just like there are exceptions to the current visa waiver programme. Guatemalans who are hoping to live permanently in the UK, stay there for a period of more than six months, or work there will all have to apply for a visa. The visa application process remains totally separate from the ETA.
Applying for the UK ETA for Guatemalan Citizens
Guatemalans planning to visit the UK should look at the published list of requirements for the ETA. Some of these requirements include the following:
• A valid biometric passport from a country on the list of eligibility.
• A recent digital passport photo.
• Personal information, which will include various data, such as date of birth, employment information, contact details, etc.
• The reason for the traveller’s visit to the UK.
• Some basic details regarding the planned trip to the UK, such as the traveller’s address while in the country.
• Payment for the ETA application fee.
This information is subject to change. The ETA system has not yet been introduced, and some details may change as it is finalised. However, the above information provides a general overview of what travellers can expect from the new programme.
In addition to the requirements listed above, applicants will need to disclose information about their past, including any criminal records, past immigration offences and any membership (past or present) of a proscribed group or organisation. The ETA is designed to help flag travellers who might pose a potential threat to the security of the United Kingdom or its citizens. ETA applicants with severe past offences may be considered a risk and will have their application denied.
ETA applicants will need to complete the application online. This is a completely digital system, and there will not be an option to make a postal application.
Processing the UK ETA for Guatemalan Citizens
An approved ETA may be considered a condition of carriage by travel carriers. This means that travellers will need to start their application with plenty of time. If they reach their departure gate at the airport without an ETA to show staff, they may be denied boarding.
As part of the application process, applicants must pay a non-refundable fee. Once their application has been completed and the fee has been paid in full, the application is considered complete and can now be processed.
An ETA application can take up to 72 hours to process, so applicants should keep this in mind. They will need to show their ETA at their departure airport and again on arrival in the UK.
In some cases, an ETA application will be denied. If this happens, an applicant has some alternatives to pursue. First, they can appeal the decision. If this fails, they may be able to apply for a visa instead. This is a more complicated process and involves a much longer processing time. Travellers with a serious criminal record who are denied an ETA may be able to apply for a visa instead.
Travelling With the UK ETA for Guatemalan Citizens
An approved UK ETA for Guatemalan citizens gives a traveller permission to enter the UK and spend up to six months there. Within the United Kingdom, there are four constituent countries: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. There is no border control between the four, so a traveller with an ETA can move freely between them. The Republic of Ireland is independent, and the ETA is not a valid travel document there.
The UK is not part of the Schengen zone and is no longer a member state of the European Union. This means that the ETA allows Guatemalans to visit the UK, but it does not give them permission to enter any other European countries. Guatemalans who wish to continue their trip by visiting other countries in Europe will need to look into the relevant entry requirements. The European Union is currently in the process of instituting its own electronic travel permit, referred to as the ETIAS.