The experience of travelling to the UK will soon change for many people, as the country is introducing its new ETA programme. Expected to come into effect by the year 2024, the ETA will affect Namibian citizens visiting the UK. Read on for all the information you need to know before you travel, including how to apply for the new ETA.
What Is the UK ETA for Namibian Citizens?
The ETA, or Electronic Travel Authorisation, has been developed by the British government as part of a new system designed to digitalise the country’s borders. The two main goals of the system are oversight and security. When the ETA is in place, the government will be able to more effectively monitor people entering the country and, in turn, identify potential threats to safety. The ETA is a new programme for the UK, but some travellers may already have experience with similar systems. Programmes like the Canadian ETA or United States ESTA, which have now been in place for a few years, are very similar to the UK ETA.
The ETA is replacing the UK’s visa waiver system. It is not a visa, and the application process is much faster and simpler. Unlike a visa, an ETA can be acquired through a totally online process. A traveller with an ETA can spend up to six months in the UK.
How Does the ETA Affect Namibian Travellers?
As a member of the Commonwealth, Namibia is on the list of 92 countries whose citizens can enter the United Kingdom without a visa. At the moment, Namibians can come to the UK without filling in any extra forms or paperwork. All they need is their passport. This will change under the new system, as they will need to apply for an ETA before they are allowed to enter the UK.
The UK ETA for Namibian citizens will be issued to travellers who come to the UK for a variety of different reasons. These include the following:
• Business trips
• Short-term courses or study programmes
• Visits to friends and family
• Medical treatment
The application process is the same for all of these travellers. Anyone who is coming to the UK for a duration of not more than six months, and those who do not intend to work in the country, may apply for an ETA in the same way.
Namibians who want to spend more than six months in the UK, are hoping to live there permanently or would like to work there (whether temporarily or long-term) will still need to apply for a visa, just as they do under the current system. The ETA is replacing the visa waiver programme and will not affect the visa application process in any way. Visa applications will remain entirely separate from the ETA programme.
Applying for the UK ETA for Namibian Citizens
The ETA application form will only be available online. No paper-based alternatives will be provided for travellers, as this is part of a digital programme. Travellers should also be prepared to pay their ETA application fee online.
A list of requirements for the ETA has been released. This information is subject to change, as the system is not completely finalised. Some details are also currently unknown. For example, the ETA will have an application fee, but the price has not been confirmed. Although this information might change in some ways, it is still worth looking at, as it provides a general idea of what Namibian applicants can expect. Requirements include:
• 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 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 the visitor’s address while in the country.
• Payment for the ETA application fee.
• Disclosure of criminal records, past immigration offences and membership (past or present) of proscribed groups or organisations.
The last point on the list is included for security reasons. One of the main goals of the ETA is to tighten up security at the borders of the United Kingdom. Travellers with links to organised crime, terrorism or gangs may be considered a threat to the country’s security, resulting in their ETA application being denied.
The application form must be completed and the application fee paid in full before the application can be processed. The fee is non-refundable.
Processing the UK ETA for Namibian Citizens
Carriers are expected to make the UK ETA a condition of carriage, as they do with similar initiatives in other countries. This means that travellers will need to apply for their ETA with plenty of time to spare before they set out on their journey. Passengers who reach the boarding gate of their departure airport without an approved UK ETA for Namibian citizens may be denied the right to board their flights.
It is expected that the ETA will take up to 72 hours to process. If a traveller’s application for the ETA is approved, they will need to show it at their departure airport — and once again on arrival in the UK — as they pass through the country’s border control.
If an application is denied, a traveller has some options. They can appeal the rejection. If an appeal fails, then the traveller might choose to apply for a visa instead. A visa application process is longer and more complex than an ETA application.
Travelling With the UK ETA for Namibian Citizens
With an ETA, Namibian travellers can enter the United Kingdom and stay there for up to six months. They cannot work while in the country, but they can move around it as they wish. In the UK, there are four constituent countries: England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Namibians in possession of a valid ETA can travel freely between them. The ETA is not valid in the Republic of Ireland, which is an independent country and not part of the UK.
Many Namibians travelling to the UK also intend to visit other countries in Europe. As the UK is not part of the European Union or the Schengen common travel zone, the ETA is only valid in the UK. Namibians who would like to visit other European countries will need to look up their entry requirements before they begin their journey. In particular, they should pay attention to the development of the ETIAS system, which is the European Union’s version of an electronic travel permit.