The UK is currently in the process of implementing its new ETA scheme, which is expected to be in place by the year 2024. This programme, which replaces the current system of waivers, will affect Kiwi travellers coming to the UK. Read on for all the information you need about the new UK ETA for New Zealand Citizens, how it will affect Kiwis and how to apply.
What Is the UK ETA for New Zealand Citizens?
The ETA programme stands for Electronic Travel Authorisation. It is designed to give the government more oversight over who is entering the country, as well as make it easier and more effective to screen out potential security risks. Although the ETA is a new system, some travellers may already have experience with similar schemes. It is based on programmes already in place in other countries, such as the ETA in Canada or the ESTA in the United States.
The ETA is part of a larger plan, with the British government aiming to fully digitalise the country’s borders. It replaces the current visa waiver system, but it is not a visa. The application process is far simpler and easier than a visa application and can be entirely completed online. Once a Kiwi traveller has been approved for an ETA, they have permission to enter the UK, and they can stay in the country for up to six months.
How Does the ETA Affect New Zealand Citizens Travelling to the UK?
All Commonwealth countries, including New Zealand, are on the list of 92 countries that have visa waiver arrangements with the UK. Kiwi citizens, like travellers from other parts of the Commonwealth, can enter the UK without a visa. The current visa waiver programme means that they do not need to complete any paperwork before coming to the UK. This part of the system is changing. Once the ETA scheme is in place, New Zealand nationals will need to apply for an ETA before they can enter the country.
The UK and New Zealand have close historic ties, and many Kiwis visit the UK each year. While tourism is a popular purpose for Kiwis to travel to the UK, it is not the only reason. Some of the reasons why Kiwis come to the UK include:
• Business trips
• Short-term courses or study programmes
• Visits to friends and family
• Medical treatment
All travellers who want to spend less than six months in the country will need to apply for a UK ETA for New Zealand citizens. Their reason for travelling does not change this. There is just one form that all Kiwi travellers must complete.
Under the current system, some New Zealand citizens need to apply for a visa before entering the UK. For example, New Zealanders who want to spend more than six months in the UK, work in the country or settle there permanently all require a visa. Many Kiwis come to the UK with a Working Holiday Visa or UK Ancestry Visa. This will not change when the ETA programme comes into effect. The ETA is not a visa and has nothing to do with the visa application process.
Applying for the UK ETA for New Zealand Citizens
The ETA application form must be completed online. This is part of a government initiative that is entirely digital, so paper-based alternatives will not be available.
Information about the application process is subject to change as the system has yet to be completely finalised. For example, the government has yet to release information about how much the ETA application fee will cost. Nevertheless, a list of requirements has been published, and travellers can check it for an idea of what to expect. Some of the requirements to apply for the ETA application include:
• A valid biometric passport from a country on the list of eligibility.
• A recent digital passport photo.
• Personal information — this will include various data, such as their 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 address while in the country.
• A credit or debit card to pay the ETA application fee.
• Disclosure of criminal records, past immigration offences, and membership (past or present) of proscribed groups or organisations.
Additionally, applicants will be expected to disclose certain pieces of sensitive information about their past. They will be asked if they have a criminal record, have ever committed immigration offences or are — or have ever been — a member of a proscribed group or organisation. Travellers who are deemed to be a risk to the safety of the UK and its citizens will have their applications rejected.
When completing the application form, applicants must pay a fee. This is to be paid online and in full before the application can be processed.
Processing the UK ETA for New Zealand Citizens
Travellers to countries like the United States and Canada will know that an electronic travel authorisation is now considered a condition of carriage. This is expected to be the same in the case of the UK. With that in mind, it is essential that travellers apply for their ETA with enough time for the application to be completely processed before they begin their journey. A traveller who reaches their boarding gate and cannot show a UK ETA for New Zealand citizens may not be allowed to board.
An ETA application is expected to take up to 72 hours to process. If it is denied, the applicant can appeal the decision. If this fails, they can apply for a visa instead, a much longer process.
Travelling With the UK ETA for New Zealand Citizens
An approved ETA gives New Zealand travellers permission to enter the UK for a period of up to six months. There is no internal border control separating the four constituent countries of the UK, so travellers can move freely between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The Republic of Ireland, an independent country, is not covered by the ETA.
The UK is not part of the European Union or the Schengen travel zone. Kiwis planning to visit other European countries will need to look up the relevant entry requirements, as the ETA has no validity in other countries. The European Union is currently in the process of introducing its own ETIAS travel programme. This is likely to affect New Zealand Citizens travelling to Europe in the future, so travellers are advised to pay attention to further developments.