The UK’s new ETA programme, which introduces a system of travel permits, is expected to come into effect by the year 2024. This will affect travellers from many different countries, including Mexico. Read this guide to get all the information you need about the new system and learn how to apply for your ETA permit.
What Is the UK ETA for Mexican Citizens?
The ETA, or Electronic Travel Authorisation, has been developed by the British government as part of a larger goal to digitalise the country’s borders. This is being designed for reasons of oversight and security. With the ETA, the government will have greater control over people entering the country and be able to identify potential risks more effectively. Although the ETA is new to the UK, elements of the system will be familiar to seasoned travellers, as it is based on similar programmes that are currently in effect in countries such as Canada and the United States.
When the ETA comes into effect, it will replace the current UK visa waiver programme. The ETA is not a visa. Instead, it is a digital travel permit. The application system is much simpler and faster than a visa application and can be completed online. When a traveller is approved for an ETA, they have permission to enter the UK and spend up to six months there.
How Does the ETA Affect Mexican Travellers?
Mexico is one of the 92 countries whose citizens do not require a visa to enter the United Kingdom. At present, this means that Mexican citizens do not need to complete any paperwork or forms before travelling to the UK. This will change when the new system is introduced. Mexicans will not need a visa to travel, but they must apply for an ETA before they enter the UK.
Mexican travellers come to the UK for a number of different reasons, which might include:
• Business trips
• Short-term courses or study programmes
• Visits to friends and family
• Medical treatment
All Mexicans who intend to spend less than six months in the UK will need to apply for an ETA. The application form is the same for all travellers, regardless of their reason for visiting the UK.
Travellers who currently require a visa to enter the UK will still need one when the new system comes into effect. For Mexican travellers, this includes people who would like to work in the UK, spend more than six months there or settle there permanently. The visa application system will not change. The ETA programme is completely separate from the system of visas.
Applying for the UK ETA for Mexican Citizens
The ETA application form will only be available online. This is part of a digital programme, so the government is not expected to provide any paper-based methods for applicants who would prefer an alternative.
Some information about the ETA application process has been released, but it is subject to change. The system has not yet been finalised, so all the details are not known. For example, there will be a fee attached to the ETA application process, but the price of that fee has not yet been decided. Although the ETA requirements may change before the system is introduced, the published information is worth looking at. It will give travellers an idea of what they will need to apply for the ETA. The requirements include the following:
• A valid biometric passport from a country on the list of eligibility.
• A recent digital passport photo.
• Personal information — this will include various data, such as their date of birth, employment information, contact details, etc.
• The reason for the traveller’s visit to the UK.
• Basic details about the planned trip to the UK, such as address while in the country.
• A credit or debit card to pay the ETA application fee.
• Disclosure of criminal records, past immigration offences, and membership (past or present) of proscribed groups or organisations.
Part of the ETA system is designed to provide greater security screening at the UK’s borders. Travellers with connections to gangs, organised crime or terrorist organisations are likely to have their applications denied, as they could pose a threat to the UK’s safety.
Before the application can be processed, it must be completed in full, and the fee must be paid. The fee is non-refundable.
Processing the UK ETA for Mexican Citizens
Travellers who are familiar with the Canadian ETA and United States ESTA will know that these are considered a condition of carriage. This is also likely to happen with the UK ETA. Passengers who are not able to show their approved UK ETA for Mexican citizens at their departure airport may be denied boarding.
To avoid this unfortunate situation, travellers should apply for their ETA with enough time to spare. They will need to take the processing time into account. Although an ETA takes far less processing time than a visa, it is not instantaneous and is expected to need up to 72 hours for approval or denial.
If a traveller’s application is approved, they will need to show their ETA at their departure airport and again when they arrive in the UK and pass through border control.
Travellers whose applications are denied have the opportunity to appeal. If an appeal fails, they may choose to apply for a visa instead. They should bear in mind that a visa application is much longer and more complicated than the ETA application process.
Travelling With the UK ETA for Mexican Citizens
Once a traveller is granted the UK ETA for Mexican citizens, they can enter the UK and stay there for a period of not longer than six months. While in the UK, they have freedom of movement between the four constituent countries of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. They do not have permission to enter the Republic of Ireland, which is an independent country with its own entry requirements.
Some Mexicans coming to the UK may be planning to visit other European countries. In this case, they will need to look into the relevant entry requirements before beginning their journey. The UK is not part of the European Union or the Schengen common travel area. This means that the ETA is only valid in the ETA and has no relevance in other countries. The European Union is in the process of introducing its own electronic travel permit system — the ETIAS — which is likely to affect Mexican travellers in a similar way as the UK ETA.