The UK is currently in the process of introducing its new ETA system, set to be in place by the year 2024. This programme will replace the current visa waiver scheme and will affect travellers from a number of countries, including Saint Kitts and Nevis. Read on for a complete guide to the new ETA, including information about what to expect from the programme and how you can apply.
What Is the UK ETA for Kittitian and Nevisian Citizens?
Seasoned travellers might already be familiar with the United States ESTA or Canadian ETA, systems that have inspired the UK’s new ETA programme. These systems introduce digital travel permits, giving the government greater control and oversight over the people entering the country and helping to provide more security at the border. The UK ETA, which stands for Electronic Travel Authorisation, is part of a government plan to digitalise the country’s borders. It will soon replace the current UK system of visa waivers.
The ETA is a digital permit, not a visa. Holders of the ETA have permission to enter the UK and can spend up to six months in the country. It does not replace or affect the system of visas, and travellers who currently need a visa to enter the UK will still need one when the ETA programme comes into effect.
How Will Kittitian and Nevisian Travellers Be Affected?
The UK has visa waiver arrangements with a number of different countries, including the members of the Commonwealth of Nations. As a Commonwealth country, Saint Kitts and Nevis is on the list. At present, travellers from St Kitts and Nevis only need their passports to enter the UK and do not have to apply for any further documentation. This will change when the ETA system comes into effect. In the future, citizens of Saint Kitts and Nevis will need an ETA, as well as their passport, if they want to travel to the UK.
The UK has strong historical ties with Saint Kitts and Nevis, and it is a popular travel destination. Travellers from Saint Kitts and Nevis come to the UK for many different reasons. Some of these could include the following:
• Business trips
• Courses of study
• Visiting friends and family
• Medical treatment
The UK ETA for Kittitian and Nevisian citizens will be issued to travellers coming for any of the above reasons. There is only one application form, which all travellers should complete. An approved ETA allows Kittians and Nevians to spend up to six months in the UK.
The visa system will not be changed by the introduction of the ETA. This means that Kittitian and Nevisian travellers who currently need a visa will still need one. For example, those who want to work in the UK, live there permanently or spend a long period of time (defined as more than six months) there will all need to apply for a visa, as the ETA does not cover their circumstances.
Applying for the UK ETA for Kittitian and Nevisian Citizens
The ETA application form will only be available online. The underlying purpose of the ETA system is to digitalise the UK’s border, so the application form is only digital.
Before making their travel plans, visitors are advised to take a look at the published list of requirements for the ETA application. It is important to recognise that this information has not yet been finalised and may be subject to change before the system is introduced. Not all details have been confirmed. For example, the cost of the ETA application fee has not been released yet. Despite this, it is still a good idea for travellers to look at these requirements, as they will see what to expect from the programme. Some requirements for the ETA 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 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.
The ETA is designed to improve control of the UK’s borders, and that includes a more effective security screening process. Travellers with connections to terrorist organisations, gangs or organised crime may have their applications denied if they are considered to pose a threat to the safety of the UK.
Applicants must complete their forms correctly and pay the application fee in full before the application can be processed. The fee can be paid online using a debit or credit card.
Processing the UK ETA for Kittitian and Nevisian Citizens
It is expected that carriers will make an approved ETA a condition of carriage for travelling to the UK. As such, travellers should complete their application form well in advance, allowing enough time for it to be fully processed before they begin their journey. They will be expected to show their approved UK ETA for Kittitian and Nevisian citizens twice — first at their departure airport and again at border control on arrival in the UK. A passenger who is unable to present an ETA may be denied boarding.
An ETA application may take up to 72 hours of processing time before it is approved or denied. Rejected ETA applications can be appealed. If an appeal fails, the travellers may still have the opportunity to apply for a visa to travel to the UK. This is a much longer and more complicated process.
Travelling With the UK ETA for Kittitian and Nevisian Citizens
Once a Kittitian and Nevisian citizen has been issued with an ETA, they have permission to enter the UK and stay there for up to six months. During this period, they cannot legally work, but they can enrol on a course of study. Within the UK, there are four constituent countries: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. There is no border control between them, allowing freedom of movement. However, the ETA has no validity in the Republic of Ireland, which is an independent country.
If a traveller from Saint Kitts and Nevis would like to visit other European countries as part of their trip, they should look into the relevant entry requirements. The UK is not a member of the Schengen free movement zone or the European Union, and the ETA is not valid to enter any of the other countries. The ETIAS, the European Union’s own digital travel permit system, is currently in development.