The UK ETA for Bahrain Citizens: What You Need To Know

From February 2024, Bahrain citizens traveling to the UK must have an electronic travel authorization (ETA). It replaces the previously required electronic visa waiver (EVW).

ETA is a new digital travel permit mandatory for citizens of countries who can visit England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland without a visa for short trips. This includes the citizens of Bahrain.

The ETA will simplify travel to the UK for around 28,000 Bahraini citizens who visit the UK for tourism, leisure, business, or study. This number is expected to increase due to the introduction of the ETA.

This guide explains everything Bahraini travelers need to know about the UK ETA: eligibility, requirements, application process, travel expectations, and more.

Why the UK ETA was introduced for Bahrain citizens

The UK ETA aims to improve the security of the UK border and allow the government more control and oversight over individuals entering the country.

The system seeks to help prevent illegal immigration, thwart organized crime syndicates, and identify potential threats to national security before they even arrive on UK soil.

The ETA is also designed to improve border control and streamline the immigration process for pre-verified, low-risk travelers.

Benefits of the UK ETA for Bahrain Citizens

The ETA is an electronic document that grants pre-screened non-visa nationals permission to travel to the UK. It is not a visa, so applicants can skip the complex and lengthy acquisition process.

For Bahrain citizens, the UK ETA presents benefits that include the following:

Quick and easy process

Applying for a UK ETA is entirely online and paperless. Bahraini applicants can complete the application in less than 20 minutes. They also do not need to visit consulates or visa offices for an in-person interview or to submit documents.

An ETA application is typically processed in three days. Travelers will receive the decision, whether approved or rejected, via the email address they provided.

If granted, the ETA will be linked to the passport they used to apply, so there is no need to print it out.

Affordable fee

A UK ETA application costs £10 each, significantly lower than the EVW, which costs £30 per application.

It is also comparable to similar digital travel permits imposed by other countries.

For instance, the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) of the United States (US) costs US$21 (£17).

Australia’s electronic travel authorization (ETA) costs AU$20 (£10), while Canada’s electronic travel authorization (eTA) costs CA$7 (£4).

Once operational, the European Union’s upcoming European Travel Information Authorization System (ETIAS) will cost €7 (£6).

Long validity period

Most digital travel permits are valid for a year to five years or when the passport it is linked to expires.

The UK ETA will be valid for multiple short visits over two years.

This is a considerable improvement over the EVW, which is valid for one short stay of up to six months. Bahrainis must apply for an EVW whenever they visit the UK.

With the UK ETA, travelers only need to apply for an ETA every two years or when their passport expires, whichever comes sooner, not every time they visit the UK.

How the UK ETA system will affect Bahrain citizens

Starting February 2024, Bahrain citizens must apply and receive a valid ETA before traveling to the UK.

It is required regardless of the mode of transport used, whether arriving on a flight, on a ship (e.g., as part of a cruise), or over land, such as through the rail tunnel connecting Britain and France.

A UK ETA is valid for the following travel purposes:

  • Short-term stay for less than six months (180 days) for tourism, short-course study, visiting friends and family, and permitted business activities and medical treatments
  • Short-term stay for up to three months (90 days) on the Creative Worker visa concession
  • Transiting through the UK (i.e., changing planes), whether or not passing through UK border control

ETA Eligibility Guidelines for Bahrain Citizens

To be eligible for an ETA, Bahrainis must meet the following conditions:

  • Be a national of a country with a visa-waiver status with the UK. Bahrain is included in the list of countries whose citizens need an ETA to travel to the UK.
  • Have a biometric passport valid for at least six months beyond the intended departure date from the UK.
  • Only intend to stay, work, or study in the UK for up to six months.
  • Do not have a criminal record or past immigration breaches in the UK or elsewhere.

All travelers, including children and babies, must have an ETA before traveling to the UK. Parents and guardians can apply for an ETA on their behalf.

Individuals with a history of immigration breaches, criminal convictions, or incarcerations of more than 12 months in the UK or elsewhere may be denied an ETA. These travelers should consider getting a UK visa instead.

Bahraini citizens planning to stay in the UK for more than six months or to work will still need an appropriate UK visa. The new ETA system does not affect these travelers. The UK visa application and processing will also remain unchanged.

Requirements for UK ETA for Bahrain citizens

Bahrainis eligible for a UK ETA must prepare the following application requirements:

  • A valid biometric passport issued by Bahrain, whose citizens do not need a visa to travel to the UK for short trips.
  • A recent digital passport photo
  • A valid email address
  • A working electronic payment method, such as credit or debit card, Apple Pay, or Google Pay

Applying for the UK ETA for Bahrain Citizens

Citizens of Bahrain can apply for a UK ETA through the official UK government website or app.

The UK ETA application process is entirely online and paperless, so visiting consulates or visa offices is unnecessary. It only takes a few minutes to complete when all the necessary documents and information are ready.

Below is a step-by-step guide on how Bahrainis can apply for an ETA.

1. Upload or take a photo of the passport you will use to travel to the UK.

Ensure you include the picture and the two lines of numbers and letters at the bottom.

2. Upload a recent passport photo or take a picture using your device’s camera.

Images should be saved as a jpeg file or with the file extension .jpg. Children aged nine and under will not need to upload a passport photo.

3. Fill in all the required information.

These include personal information (i.e., name, birth date), passport details, employment details, home address, and contact information.

4. Answer questions on security and eligibility.

Like any other UK visitor, Bahraini ETA applicants must truthfully disclose criminal records, past immigration offenses, and any associations with or membership in any unlawful or illegal groups or organizations.

5. Pay for the UK ETA application online.

A UK ETA application costs £10 each. To submit the application, you must pay the fee online using a credit or debit card, Apple Pay, or Google Pay.

After completing the UK ETA online application, travelers will receive a confirmation through the email they provided.

Tips for applying for a UK ETA for Bahrain Citizens

Applying for an ETA is simple, but there is still room for errors. To avoid common mistakes, follow these guidelines for a swift and efficient UK ETA online application.

  • Provide or capture clear, high-quality photos of your passport and yourself. Ensure the images comply with passport photo specifications and are in full color without filters or effects.
  • Make sure you provide the correct data. Giving false or incorrect information and even withholding information could result in delays or the refusal of your application.
  • Check beforehand if your online payment method works and if you have enough funds to pay for the application online.
  • Review and double-check the data you provided in your ETA application before you submit.

After submitting the UK ETA application, travelers can no longer amend or withdraw it. Should Bahraini travelers need to correct simple mistakes in their ETA application, they can quickly do this by re-submitting the application and paying the fee again.

Processing and Receiving the ETA for Bahrain Nationals

Once a UK ETA online application is submitted, the system will cross-verify the details submitted against several security databases in the UK and worldwide to check if the applicant is qualified for an ETA.

Applicants typically receive a decision on their ETA application via the email address provided within three days (72 hours).

Many travelers receive a decision within hours of submitting their application. Still, some applications may take more than three days to receive a decision.

Bahraini citizens are recommended to apply for a UK ETA before booking their travel to the UK to prevent delays or other issues.

If an ETA application is denied, the applicant can choose to complete a new ETA application form and pay the fee again. However, this is only recommended if they can establish the reason for the initial rejection and address it before doing so.

Denying an ETA does not mean the applicant is banned from traveling to the UK. The alternative to a UK ETA is an appropriate UK visa: a Standard Visitor visa, Temporary Work visa, or Transit visa.

However, getting a visa is a more complicated and longer procedure, so visitors must adjust their travel plans accordingly.

Traveling with a UK ETA

A UK ETA is digitally linked to an individual’s passport. It is valid for two years, allowing multiple short visits lasting up to six months per visit.

Travelers from Bahrain must apply for a new ETA after two years or when their passport expires, whichever comes first, to continue being allowed to travel to the UK.

Departure to the UK

Since it is an electronic document, Bahraini visitors don’t need to bring a physical copy of their ETA. Still, they can print it and carry the paper copy with them or be prepared to show the ETA decision email in their inbox in case of unprecedented circumstances.

For travelers with multiple passports, make sure to travel to the UK with the passport used in the application.

Before boarding a plane, ship, or train, carriers will scan passports to check if travelers have the appropriate permission-to-travel document. Carriers will only allow boarding to Bahraini travelers who can present an approved UK ETA or visa.

Those still waiting to decide on their ETA applications will also not be permitted to board.

Arriving in the UK

An ETA does not guarantee entry into the UK. Upon arrival, Bahraini citizens with an approved UK ETA must still submit their identity documents to the UK Border Force or go through an electronic passport gate (eGate), if available.

Be prepared to provide proof of onward travel upon request. This typically means presenting a ticket to leave the UK within six months of arrival.

If asked, Bahraini travelers must also show evidence that they have enough funds to support themselves during their entire stay in the UK and their journey home.

Travelers with a valid ETA may still be refused entry into the UK if they fail a border check or meet other entry conditions.

Once past border security, Bahrain citizens with a valid ETA can freely travel between the UK’s four constituent countries: England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

Bahraini visitors can use all modes of transportation within the UK, such as trains, ferries, and local flights. Before boarding a ferry or an internal flight within the UK, they only need to present an ID, usually a passport or driving license.

Important Note: UK ETA is not valid in Ireland or other European Countries.

A UK ETA does not allow entry to the Republic of Ireland and other European countries. The UK is not a member of the European Union (EU) or the Schengen Common Travel Zone.

Bahrain citizens who plan to visit other Ireland or European countries must inquire about their destination’s entry requirements and ensure they have met them before booking their travel.

If Bahrainis require a visa to visit other European countries, they typically must apply for one before leaving Bahrain.

Travelers can check the UK ETA FAQ page for more information.