If you’re planning on visiting the UK after 2024, you’ll need to know about the UK’s new ETA system. Within this new scheme, all nationals who do not currently need a visa to visit the UK, including Finns, will be required to apply for an ETA before they travel. Entry into the UK will be prohibited without this ETA. Learn how the system works and how to apply for an ETA for Finnish citizens in this guide.
What Is the UK ETA for Finnish Nationals
The UK’s new ETA system will become fully operational by 2024. An ETA, which means Electronic Travels Authorisation, is a new permit scheme that works as a visa waiver. The principles of the scheme may be familiar to those with experience visiting the USA, which has a similar ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) scheme. Likewise, the EU, including Finland, has its own ESTA (European Travel Information and Authorisation System) for non-EU visa-free visitors.
In an effort to strengthen security and fully digitise the border entry process, the UK’s ETA system was announced as part of a new Nationality and Borders Bill. For Finnish visitors, this will add an extra online step in the form of a digital ‘permission to travel’ application.
This new ETA rule affects Finns, among 91 other countries, including all EU states, except for the Republic of Ireland. Those affected are countries that do not require a visa to visit on a short-stay trip of no more than 6 months to the UK. This covers tourist and business trips, as well as family reunions, education enrolment or medical treatment. All these are valid reasons to enter the UK with an ETA.
How Will the New ETA System Affect Finnish Citizens?
The new UK ETA is an additional step in the travel process. Finns can no longer simply enter the UK with a passport; they must prepare for and receive an ETA before they arrive. This will change the universal freedom of movement once afforded to Finns. In short, Finnish citizens can no longer enter the UK as easily as they can travel across the EU.
Finns still do not require a visa to enter the UK. They are legally allowed to visit the country for up to 180 days per trip. For stays longer than 180 days, as well as Finns commencing employment in the UK, a visa is required. While a visa application is not required for short stays, a UK ETA for Finnish citizens is. Without an ETA, Finns will not be allowed to enter the UK.
The ETA application is an online process that is designed to be quick and convenient. No physical documents or in-person consulate visits are needed, as outlined below.
Applying for a UK ETA for Finnish Citizens
While the ETA system is yet to be finalised, the basics are known. First, those eligible for an ETA have been announced to include all 92 current visa-free countries, including Finland. A full list of requirements has also been published. This may change as the ETA goes through its trial year, but it provides a good outline of what can be expected during the application process.
Finnish nationals will need to apply for an ETA online through the official UK portal. This system is designed to be entirely digital, with no need for paper or mailed documents. There’s also no need to visit a consulate, embassy or visa centre when visiting the UK. The applicant should have the following at hand when completing the online form:
• A valid biometric passport issued by an eligible country, such as Finland.
• A recent digital passport-sized photograph.
• Personal details, including full name(s), date of birth, occupation and contact details.
• The purpose and details of travel arrangements within the UK.
• A credit or debit card to pay the ETA application fee.
Finnish applicants must also complete a disclosure form that confirms the applicant has no criminal history, immigration offences or membership to a proscribed group. Such security questions must be answered accurately for the risk of future prosecution. If an applicant is found to be a risk to the UK’s security, they will be denied entry. For those with a criminal history, a standard visa is often required in lieu of an ETA.
Processing the UK ETA for Finnish Citizens
The ETA application time itself is short, taking no more than 10 minutes. However, upon submission and after payment of the fee, it can take up to 72 hours to process. The UK will aim to keep processing times short, but delays can occur. This is all done electronically, with an email to confirm the applicant’s success.
As the potential processing time is 72 hours, Finnish applicants must ensure they apply with enough time before their intended travel date. As an ETA is now a mandatory requirement, failure to promptly apply for a permit may lead to an applicant being denied entry into the country. If an ETA is rejected, there is expected to be an appeal process. The applicant may be asked to complete a visa instead, particularly if they do not meet certain security requirements.
Finns can apply for an ETA from any location and no matter how they intend to enter the UK. Finns travelling through Europe and entering via France, for instance, will need to present a valid ETA at the Channel border. This doesn’t need to be completed in Finland but can be done in France or another location if touring Europe.
Regardless of how the applicant enters the UK, an approved ETA must be presented at the border and sometimes in the departing country. Direct carriers will be expected to screen their passengers to ensure they hold a valid ETA. Failure to present an ETA confirmation may lead to the passenger being prohibited from boarding. When arriving in the UK, the passenger must provide their valid ETA and biometric passport at an eGate for swift border access.
Travelling With the UK ETA for Finnish Citizens
A UK ETA is valid across the United Kingdom, allowing Finns to travel to England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland without any additional paperwork. This also includes crown dependencies like the Isle of Man, Jersey or Guernsey. What’s more, as EU members, Finns can travel into the UK via ferry entry points, like France and Ireland. Finnish visitors can refer to the UK FAQ for additional details.
Finnish in the United Kingdom
Finns are granted visa-free travel in the UK and need only apply for an ETA. There are plenty of highlights for Finns visiting the UK, from cultural hubs like London to the country’s national parks. It’s estimated that some 20,000 Finns live in the UK, many of whom are drawn to London for work and pleasure. There are also plenty of ways to enter the UK from Finland, including direct flights from Helsinki, Tampere and Rovaniemi.