From 2024, any person planning to travel to the UK will be subject to the new ETA system. Application for an ETA needs to be made prior to the journey, and the system applies universally, which includes travellers who currently qualify for a visa waiver. Here, we provide information on how people from Barbados who want to visit the United Kingdom will be affected by the ETA and how to apply for a UK ETA for Barbadian citizens.
What Is the UK ETA?
Similar to the USA ESTA and Canadian ETA systems, the UK’s Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) programme will be fully in place by the end of 2024, thanks to changes to the UK government’s Nationality and Borders Bill. Under this new legislation, all UK borders will be digitalised.
The ETA will serve as a digital permit that gives permission to and enables visitors to enter all four countries of the UK: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. There are currently 92 countries that do not require UK visas. The ETA eligibility list can be viewed here, and it includes Barbados.
The UK ETA for Barbadian citizens applies to all reasons for travel, including tourism, visiting friends or family, business trips, studying and receiving medical treatment. The ETA will apply to all means of travel and arrival in the UK. All ports of entry will have the digital system in place — airports, seaports and Eurostar train ports.
How Will the New System Affect Barbadian Citizens?
Prior to the introduction of the ETA, as a commonwealth country, citizens of Barbados who meet the Standard Visitor requirements did not need a visa to enter the United Kingdom. From 2024, visa-free access will effectively be withdrawn, and Barbadians will need to apply for an ETA. As with visa-free access, the UK ETA for Barbadian citizens is granted for a period of six months. For travel of a duration of more than six months, a visa is required as per the existing requirements.
What is the Application Process for an ETA?
Although the information for the new ETA system is yet to be finalised, the government has published various pieces of information and some broad guidelines. Two areas of main concern for Barbadian travellers are eligibility and the application process.
It has been confirmed that Barbados is one of the eligible countries, and all visitors from Barbados will require an ETA. Still subject to change, it is expected that the application process for a UK ETA for Barbadian citizens will be completely digital. That means all ETA applications are to be made online. There are no paper-based alternatives. It is advised that travellers have all their information to hand before they start completing the form, along with a debit or credit card to pay the fee.
What is required for a UK ETA?
The information required will include the following:
• A valid biometric passport issued by one of 92 eligible countries
• A recent digital passport photo
• Personal details
• Full names
• Date of birth
• Residential address
• Passport details
• Contact number
• Country of issue
• Date of issue
• Employment details
• Name of employer
• Address of employer
• Employer contact details
• Travel details
• Purpose of visit
• Address while in the country
The applicant will also be expected to disclose certain information about their past. This will involve answering questions about past immigration history, criminal records and affiliations with or memberships of proscribed groups. This latter information will be checked against national and international databases used by the UK government and border forces. If an applicant is considered to be a threat or security risk to the UK, an ETA will be denied.
How Is the Application Processed?
Once the form is completed, the applicant needs to pay a non-refundable fee — debit and credit cards are accepted. Applications without payment will not be processed. The estimated processing time is between 48 and 72 hours.
As an ETA is going to be a legal necessity, applications for a UK ETA for Barbadian citizens should be made in good time to allow for processing. There is no guarantee that an ETA will be granted, and if an application is refused, there may be an appeal process. Alternatively, there is the option to apply for a visa via a much longer process.
How Will an ETA Affect the Entry Process?
When an ETA is approved, it is granted as a digital permit linked to a passport. Details of ETAs will be lodged on the Advanced Passenger Information database. Carriers will retain the responsibility for ensuring that their passengers have valid permission to enter the UK before they begin their journey.
Passengers who are unable to show an approved ETA may be prevented from boarding an aircraft, boat or train. On arrival in the UK, the ETA will be checked by border officials. Entry can still be denied if officials believe the traveller is inadmissible under UK law.
What is the Time Period an ETA Covers?
A UK ETA is valid for 180 days from the date of issue unless the passport to which it is linked expires during that six-month period. No one is permitted to stay beyond the expiration of their passport, even if they have a valid ETA. Similarly, if an ETA expires during the visit, a new ETA is required for the visit to be continued.
In order to extend a visit beyond the ETA validity period, a visa will be required. Depending on the circumstances, the traveller may have to return to their home country to make the visa application. During the six months, there is no limit on the number of times the UK can be visited and while in the UK, the ETA holder has freedom of movement through all four countries. More information about the process and the UK ETA for Barbadian citizens can be found in the frequently asked questions section.