The UK is currently in the process of introducing the new ETA system. Set to be fully implemented by the year 2024, this programme will replace the current visa waiver scheme. Citizens of Papua New Guinea will be among those affected by this new travel permit system. Read on for a full guide to the ETA, what to expect when travelling and how to apply for it.
What Is the UK ETA for Papuan Citizens?
The new ETA programme is part of a British government initiative to digitalise the country’s borders. The ETA, which stands for Electronic Travel Authorisation, replaces the current visa waiver scheme. It is based on successful systems already in place in other countries, such as the United States ESTA or the Canadian ETA. Like these systems, the UK ETA will give the government more oversight over people entering the country, allowing more effective monitoring of the borders and identification of potential security risks.
The ETA is a travel permit, not a visa. It will be issued to travellers who intend to spend less than six months in the UK. Travellers who need a visa to enter the country will be unaffected by the introduction of this new programme.
How Will Papuan Travellers Be Affected?
As a member of the Commonwealth, Papua New Guinea is one of the 92 countries that feature in the UK’s visa waiver programme. At present, travellers from those countries can enter the UK with just their passports and no other form of paperwork. This will change when the ETA system is implemented. Papuan citizens will still not need a visa to enter the UK, but they will have to apply for an ETA before they travel.
The UK ETA for Papuan citizens will be available to travellers coming to the UK for a number of different reasons. These reasons may include the following:
• Business trips
• Courses of study
• Visiting friends and family
• Medical treatment
The application process for the ETA is the same for all visitors, regardless of their reason for travelling. With an approved ETA, Papuans can enter the UK and spend up to six months in the country.
At present, some Papuans must apply for a visa to the UK. This is the case for Papuan citizens who want to work in the UK, settle there permanently or spend more than six months there. These travellers will not be affected by the introduction of the new system. Visa applications will remain entirely separate from the ETA.
Applying for the UK ETA for Papuan Citizens
Papuans who want to travel to the UK will first need to complete the ETA application form. They will have to do this online. As the ETA system is intended to be completely digital, there will be no offline alternatives available. The application process also involves a fee. This can be paid online using a debit or credit card.
Some information about the requirements for the ETA application has been released. However, this information has not been finalised, and some details are incomplete. For example, the ETA will have an application fee, but the amount that this fee will cost has yet to be announced. Other criteria may also be subject to change, such as the validity period of the applicant’s passport.
Although this information may change, it is still worth looking at. It gives Papuan travellers an idea of what to expect when they complete the ETA application form. Some of the requirements are likely to include the following:
• A valid biometric passport issued by one of the countries on the eligibility list.
• A recent digital passport photo.
• Personal information. This will include data such as date of birth, employment information, contact details, etc.
• The purpose of the traveller’s visit to the UK.
• Details about the planned trip to the UK, such as address while in the country.
• A debit or credit card for the ETA application fee.
• Disclosure of a criminal record, past immigration offences, and membership (past or present) of any proscribed groups or organisations.
Part of the ETA system is designed to protect the UK from security threats. For this reason, travellers are asked to provide information about their criminal record and so on. Applicants who are identified as potential safety risks will be flagged within the system, and their applications will be rejected.
Before an application can start to be processed, the form must be completed correctly and the fee paid in full.
Processing the UK ETA for Papuan Citizens
In other countries with similar systems of digital travel permits, carriers have adopted an approved permit as a condition of carriage. It seems likely that this precedent will be followed in the case of the UK. This means that passengers will be asked to show their approved UK ETA for Papuan citizens before boarding at their departure airport. If they are unable to do this, they may be denied boarding.
With this in mind, travellers should apply for their ETA, allowing enough processing time. It is expected that an application will take up to 72 hours to be approved or denied. An approved ETA must be shown at the departure airport, then once again on arrival in the UK.
In the case that an ETA application is denied, the applicant can appeal. If their appeal fails, they may still be able to apply for a visa to visit the UK. The visa application process is longer and more complicated than the ETA application.
Travelling With the UK ETA for Papuan Citizens
Once a Papuan has been approved for an ETA, they can enter the United Kingdom and spend up to six months in the country. During this time, they cannot work, but they are allowed to enrol on courses of study. They are also allowed to move freely around the UK, with no further paperwork, using different means of transport. They can travel between any of the UK’s four constituent countries of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The Republic of Ireland, which is independent, is not covered by the ETA and has its own entry requirements.
The ETA gives Papuans permission to enter the United Kingdom but has no legal validity in any other European countries. The UK is not a member of the Schengen common travel area or the European Union. Papuans who want to visit other European countries will need to look at the entry requirements before travelling. The European Union is currently in the process of introducing its own digital travel permit system, the ETIAS, which is likely to affect Papuan travellers who want to visit.