Set to be introduced by 2024, the UK’s new ETA system is a replacement for the current visa waiver programme. When it comes into effect, Hungarians will be unable to enter the UK without applying for an ETA in advance. This guide explains how the system works and what Hungarians need to know before they travel to the UK.
What Is the UK ETA for Hungarian Citizens?
The UK’s Electronic Travel Authorisation — referred to as the ETA — is a new system that the British government is introducing. This forms part of a wider programme to digitalise the UK’s borders. Based on systems that already exist in countries such as the United States and Canada, the ETA scheme gives the government greater oversight over who is entering the country and allows for more effective screening of potential security risks.
When the new ETA system comes into effect, Hungarian travellers will need to apply for an ETA before they begin their journey. The ETA functions as a digital permit, giving its holders permission to enter the UK. It is not a visa. The application process is far simpler and faster than a visa application, and the ETA gives travellers permission to enter without any of the more advanced permissions that a visa might offer.
How Does the ETA Affect Hungarian Travellers?
The UK has a visa waiver programme which covers 92 countries. At present, travellers from these countries do not need to complete any forms or paperwork before entering the UK. When the ETA system is introduced, they will have to apply for an ETA prior to their journey. European Union countries such as Hungary are included on the list.
With an ETA, Hungarian travellers will be able to enter the UK and stay for a short period, which is defined as less than six months. The ETA covers Hungarians who are travelling to the UK for a number of different reasons. These might include:
• Business trips
• Short-term courses or study programmes
• Visits to friends and family
• Medical treatment
Some Hungarians will still require a visa for the UK. This is the case under the current system and will remain unchanged when the new ETA programme begins. If a Hungarian wants to work in the UK, spend more than six months there, or live there permanently, they will need to apply for the relevant visa. The visa application process is completely separate from the ETA system.
Applying for the UK ETA for Hungarian Citizens
Before finalising their travel plans, visitors are encouraged to look at the published list of requirements for the ETA. These requirements include:
• A valid biometric passport from a country on the list of eligibility.
• A recent digital passport photo.
• personal information. This will include data such as date of birth, employment information, contact details, etc.
• The reason for the traveller’s visit to the UK.
• Basic details about the planned trip to the UK, such as the visitor’s address while in the country
• A credit or debit card for the ETA application fee.
• Past information, including details of a criminal record, immigration offences and membership of proscribed groups or organisations.
One benefit of the new ETA system is the greater oversight that it provides, allowing the British government to flag security risks more effectively. For this reason, ETA applicants are asked questions about their criminal record and other offences. A traveller who is considered to pose a threat to the UK will have their ETA application denied.
It is important to remember that this information is subject to change. The ETA system has not yet been implemented, and some details may be changed as the programme is finalised. However, the above criteria are likely to remain the same.
The ETA application process is only available online. Travellers will not be able to use any paper-based alternatives, as this system is designed to be completely digital.
Processing the UK ETA for Hungarian Citizens
When completing the ETA application form, applicants will need to pay a non-refundable fee. When the fee is paid in full, and the application form is completed, the ETA application can move to the next phase: the processing stage.
ETA applications are expected to take a maximum of 72 hours to be processed. Applicants should keep this in mind when making their travel plans. It is essential that they apply with enough time for their application to be fully processed, as carriers are expected to make an approved ETA a condition of carriage. If a passenger is unable to show an approved UK ETA for Hungarian citizens at their departure airport, they may be denied boarding.
Most Hungarians fly when travelling to the UK. However, some might choose to enter by road or train, crossing the Channel Tunnel that connects Great Britain to France. Regardless of how they enter the country, they will need to have an approved ETA. This must be shown at their departure airport, station or port and once again upon arrival in the UK.
ETA applications may be denied. In this case, the applicant has the chance to appeal the decision. In some cases, it may be necessary for an applicant who has been denied an ETA to apply for a visa instead.
Travelling With the UK ETA for Hungarian Citizens
An approved UK ETA for Hungarian citizens gives holders permission to spend up to six months in the UK. They may enrol on a course of study, but they may not work. They can travel freely between the UK’s four constituent countries, England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Hungarians in the United Kingdom
The exact number of Hungarians living in the UK is not clear. Many came to the country after Hungary joined the European Union and have remained even after the UK’s departure. It is estimated that between 100,000 and 200,000 Hungarians currently reside in the UK. Unlike other groups of migrants, they are not spread out around the country, with the majority of Hungarians living in London.
Because of this, many Hungarians who travel to the UK are doing so to visit friends and family already living there. Others come for purposes of tourism, business trips or enrol in study programmes. Over 300,000 Hungarians travel to the UK each year.