When the UK’s new ETA system is introduced, it will have a big impact on many visitors to the country. Bahrain is one of the countries that will be affected by the new programme. Bahraini visitors to the UK will need to apply for an ETA before beginning their journey. This guide explains what to expect and how to apply.
What is the UK ETA for Bahraini Citizens?
The Electronic Travel Authorisation system, or ETA, is expected to come into effect by 2024. It is based on similar, existing systems in countries like the United States and Canada. This is part of the British government’s plan to digitalise the country’s borders. With the ETA system, the government will have greater oversight regarding who is entering and leaving the country, which will enable them to screen out undesirable visitors more effectively.
At present, travellers from many countries, including Bahrain, fall under the UK’s visa waiver programme. They can enter the UK without completing any forms or paperwork. This will change when the new system starts. Instead, travellers must apply for an ETA before beginning their journey. The ETA is a digital permit that grants the holder permission to enter the United Kingdom.
How Does the ETA Affect the Citizens of Bahrain?
Bahrain is one of the 92 countries in which the UK has a visa waiver system in place. Under the new ETA programme, citizens of these countries will need to apply for an ETA if they wish to travel to the UK.
The UK ETA for Bahraini citizens is not limited to tourists. Instead, it is available for visitors coming to the country for several different reasons. These reasons include the following:
• Business trips
• Short-term courses or study programmes
• Visits to friends and family
• Medical treatment
However, the ETA is not valid for travellers who wish to work while in the United Kingdom. People who are travelling with the intention of working or those who would like to spend longer than six months in the UK currently require a visa. Under the new system, this will not change — they will still need to apply for a visa, in a separate process to the ETA, before coming to the country.
Applying for the UK ETA for Bahraini Citizens
Until the ETA system starts, information about it is limited. However, some details have been released. While they may change when the programme is finalised, they provide travellers with a general idea of what to expect from the ETA application process.
To start, travellers can consult the list of requirements. Some of these include:
• A valid biometric passport from a country on the eligibility list.
• A recent digital passport photo.
• Personal information — this will include data, including date of birth, employment information, contact details, etc.
• The reason for the traveller’s visit to the UK.
• Some details about the planned trip to the UK, such as address while in the country.
• The ETA application fee.
• Disclosure of any criminal record, immigration offences and membership (past or present) of proscribed groups or organisations.
The final data point will be used to screen for security risks. An applicant who is deemed to be a potential threat to the security of the United Kingdom will have their application denied.
The ETA application is an online process, and applicants will only be able to do it via the internet. The ETA is a digital programme, so no paper-based alternative applications will be offered.
Processing the UK ETA for Bahraini Citizens
Carriers are expected to make an approved ETA certificate a condition of carriage. Passengers who do not have an ETA or whose ETA is still being processed may be denied boarding. Because of this, it is essential that travellers apply for the ETA with sufficient time and do not leave it to the last minute.
When completing the ETA application form, applicants will need to pay a fee. This is non-refundable and must be paid in full before the application will be processed. An ETA can take up to 72 hours to be processed. If the application is approved, then the traveller will need to show their ETA at their departure airport and again on arrival in the United Kingdom.
In the case that an ETA is denied, applicants may be able to appeal. Alternatively, they can apply for a visa to visit the UK. This is a much longer and more complicated process, so applicants will need to allow sufficient time if they plan to apply for a visa.
Travelling With the UK ETA for Bahraini Citizens
A traveller who holds a UK ETA for Bahraini citizens can spend up to six months in the United Kingdom. Within the UK, there are four constituent countries: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. There is no border control separating them, and travellers are free to move as they wish between the four countries. However, the Republic of Ireland is independent. The ETA does not grant a traveller permission to travel there.
The ETA is valid for travel within the United Kingdom but nowhere else in Europe. Bahraini citizens who would like to visit other European countries during their trip will need to look up the entry requirements for these countries and ensure they have met them. A UK ETA will have no effect outside the United Kingdom. In general, Bahrainis will require a visa to visit most European countries; normally, they will need to apply for a visa before leaving Bahrain.
Bahrainis in the UK
Until the year 1971, Bahrain was a British protectorate. After it gained independence, it chose not to join the Commonwealth. However, it continues to have a close relationship with the United Kingdom.
The UK is a particularly popular destination for Bahraini students, with over 2,000 studying in Britain. As well as coming to the UK to study, Bahrainis often choose the country as a destination for tourism. Large cities like London are among the most popular destinations. There are direct daily flights from London Heathrow Airport to Manama, the capital of Bahrain.