From 2024, all travellers who want to visit any of the four countries of the United Kingdom will be required to apply and gain approval for admittance. The visa process will remain in place for anyone who wants to work in the UK or wishes to stay longer than six months, but for short stays, a new permit is being introduced.
New legislation for immigration has been passed into UK law, and travellers will require a UK ETA to be allowed past a UK border.
The information listed below will provide guidelines for Dutch citizens who have plans to travel to the UK in 2024 and beyond, including how they will be impacted by the ETA and the application process.
What Is the UK ETA for Dutch citizens?
The new Electronic Travel Authorisation system is similar to entry programmes run by the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
In accordance with the Nationality and Borders Bill, aligned with changes following the UK’s exit from the European Union and the need for secure and efficient immigration control, the UK’s borders will be fully digitalised by the end of 2024, and the newly developed ETA programme will fully be rolled out.
The ETA is a digital permit that will grant admission to travellers who have submitted successful applications. With a single ETA permit, travellers will be able to enter all four countries of the United Kingdom: England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
As published so far, there is an eligibility list of 92 countries, and it includes The Netherlands. The UK ETA for Dutch citizens is applicable to all intended visitors, regardless of the reason for travel. This includes business, tourism, education, medical treatment and visiting family or friends. It is required for all forms of transport, whether entering via an airport, seaport or Eurotunnel port.
How Will the New System Affect Dutch Citizens?
Based on existing data, there will likely be up to 2 million UK ETA for Dutch citizens applying every year. Prepandemic, the UK was among the most-visited tourist destinations in the world. In the list of the top 10 countries that visited the UK in 2018, travellers from the Netherlands came in 6th place, with 1.95 million visitors.
Prior to the introduction of the new ETA system, as European Union members, Dutch citizens who wanted to travel to the UK for a period of fewer than six months could do so without a visa as long as they met the standard visitor requirements.
From 2024, the visa waiver will no longer apply, and the UK ETA for Dutch citizens will be required. There are no exemptions, including any age exemptions.
Any Dutch citizen who wishes to work in the UK or wants to prolong their stay beyond a six-month period will need to apply for a visa via the existing process.
What Is the Application Process for an ETA?
While there may still be minor changes before the programme is fully enforced, the government has published information about the ETA application process.
Based on what is known, an ETA application requires the following:
• A valid Dutch passport and a recent passport photograph in digital format.
• Personal details, including full name, date of birth and current residential address.
• Passport details, namely the number, date of issue and country of issue.
• Employment details, including employer’s name, address and contact details.
• Travel details, including the purpose of the visit and the address to be used while in the UK.
All applicants will also be asked questions regarding their immigration status, history, nationality (for example, if dual citizenship is held), health status, drug and criminal records and also any activity with or affiliation to proscribed groups.
The answers to these questions will be checked against national and international databases used by border forces and UK government departments. If any details are red-flagged, it may result in an ETA being denied.
How Is the Application Processed?
Applications for UK ETAs are made exclusively online for ease of completion, and a non-refundable credit or debit card payment is required to complete the process. Any applications without payment will not be processed.
It is expected that the processing time for an ETA application will be 48 to 72 hours, but all applicants are advised to complete and submit their forms as early as possible before the intended travel date.
How Will an ETA Affect the Entry Process?
Once a UK ETA application has been successfully approved, the ETA is assigned in the form of a digital permit to the traveller’s passport. They will be recognised at the borders’ e-Gates.
Every ETA issued will be lodged on the global Advanced Passenger Information databases. This will enable travel carriers to ensure their passengers have the right permits to enter the UK. This should happen before they are allowed to board the plane, ferry or Eurostar train. Any Dutch travellers who are found not to have an ETA will be denied entry into the UK.
The ETA does not guarantee automatic entry. If border control decides someone is inadmissible under UK law, even with a valid ETA, they may be refused entry and turned back.
What Time Period Does the ETA Cover?
The ETA validity period is 180 days from the date of issue. The exception to this rule will be if the passport to which the ETA is linked runs out before the 180 days have finished.
No traveller from the 92 listed countries, the Netherlands included, will be allowed to remain in the United Kingdom for longer than their valid passport dates allow, and that is regardless of any time left on the ETA permit.
Should a Dutch citizen still be in the UK when their ETA expires, a new application will need to be made in order for the stay to be extended. In some cases, it might be necessary to return to the country of origin while the application process is undertaken.
A single ETA permit grants free, unlimited access to all four of the UK’s individual countries for as long as it is valid.
More information on the UK ETA for Dutch citizens can be found in the frequently asked questions section.