The UK is expected to introduce its new ETA system by the year 2024. This programme will replace the current visa waiver scheme, affecting travellers from many countries, including Qatar. In this complete guide to the UK ETA, you will learn how the new system works, what to expect when you travel and how to apply for an ETA.
What Is the UK ETA for Qatari Citizens?
Travellers who have experience with the United States ESTA or Canadian ETA will already have an idea of how the UK ETA programme works. Like those systems, it is a digital travel permit designed to give the government more control and oversight over people entering the country. It will also make it easier to identify potential security risks. The ETA, which stands for Electronic Travel Authorisation, is part of a broader government initiative to digitalise the borders and will replace the UK’s current system of visa waivers.
The ETA is not a type of visa. Instead, it is a digital permit that gives holders permission to enter the UK. It will be issued to Qataris, along with citizens of other selected countries, who intend to spend less than six months in the United Kingdom. The visa system for travellers who do not meet the criteria for an ETA will remain in place separately.
How Will Qatari Travellers Be Affected?
The UK has visa waiver arrangements with 92 countries, including Qatar. This means that, at the moment, travellers with a Qatari passport do not need any additional documents to travel to the UK. The introduction of the ETA system will change this. In the future, Qataris will need to apply for an ETA before they are allowed to enter the country.
The UK is a popular destination for Qatari travellers. Many come for holidays, with the capital city of London being the most common destination. However, there are other reasons why they might choose to travel, including:
• Business trips
• Courses of study
• Visiting friends and family
• Medical treatment
The application system for the UK ETA for Qatari citizens is the same for everyone, no matter what their reason for travelling may be. Holders of an ETA have permission to enter the country and stay there for up to six months.
Some Qatari travellers, who are coming to the UK for other reasons, will need to apply for a visa. Effectively, the introduction of the ETA programme on the UK’s visa system. Qataris who would like to work in the UK (whether for short periods or long-term), live there permanently or spend more than six months there will all need to apply for a visa, as the ETA does not cover them.
Applying for the UK ETA for Qatari Citizens
The ETA application form will be available online. The ETA system is completely digital, so there will not be any alternative paper-based methods of application. As well as completing the form, applicants must pay a fee. This can be paid online using a debit or credit card. The cost of the fee has not yet been announced.
Some details about the requirements for the ETA application have been released. It is important to note that this information is subject to change, as the system has not yet been finalised. Additional requirements may be added. For example, in some countries with similar systems, travellers must hold a passport that is valid for three or six months beyond their travel dates.
Although the information is not finalised, it gives Qatari travellers an idea of what to expect and allows them to prepare the documents they will need. Some of the likely requirements for the ETA 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.
One important reason why the ETA system is being introduced is to improve the UK’s border security. For this reason, applicants will be asked to disclose information about their criminal records or any connections to organised crime, terrorist groups, etc. If an applicant is considered to pose a threat to the security of the UK or its citizens, they will not be issued an ETA.
Applicants must complete the form correctly and pay the fee in full. Only then will their ETA application start to be processed.
Processing the UK ETA for Qatari Citizens
The ETA is expected to be set as a condition of carriage for travelling to the UK. This means that airlines can deny boarding to travellers who cannot present an approved UK ETA for Qatari citizens at their departure airport.
To avoid this, travellers should make sure they apply for their ETA with plenty of time to spare. The ETA is expected to take up to 72 hours to be processed. Travellers with an approved ETA do not need to apply for any further documentation. They will have to show their ETA at their departure airport and again when they pass through UK border control on arrival.
If an ETA application is denied, the applicant can appeal. An unsuccessful appeal does not necessarily mean that the traveller is prohibited from entering the UK. Instead, they may be able to apply for a visa before travelling.
Travelling With the UK ETA for Qatari Citizens
Once a citizen from Qatar has had their ETA application approved, they can enter the UK and spend up to six months there. During this time, they can enrol on courses of study but cannot work. There is freedom of movement between the UK’s four constituent countries of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, so ETA holders can travel between them as they wish. However, the ETA does not give permission to enter the Republic of Ireland, which is an independent country.
The ETA has no validity in other parts of Europe, as the UK is not a member of the Schengen common travel zone or the European Union. Qataris who want to visit other European countries will need to look up the entry requirements before they begin their journey. The EU will soon introduce its own travel permit system, which is called the ETIAS.