The UK’s new ETA system will soon come into effect, changing the travel experience for many visitors. Citizens of El Salvador are among those who will be affected by the new programme. This guide explains how to apply for the UK ETA, how the new system will work, and what travellers need to know before they start their journey.
What is the UK ETA for Salvadoran Citizens?
Although the ETA, which stands for Electronic Travel Authorisation, is new to the UK, travellers may already have experience with similar programmes. The scheme is based on existing systems that are in place in countries like the United States and Canada. It is part of the British government’s initiative to digitalise the borders. When the ETA system is complete, it will give the government more insight into the visitors coming to the country. It will also create a stronger security process, making it easier to identify and flag potential risks to the UK.
The ETA is not a visa and has a much simpler, easier application process than a visa would. Instead, it is being introduced to replace the current system of visa waivers. It is a digital travel permit. Holders of the UK ETA for Salvadoran citizens have permission to enter the United Kingdom.
How Does the ETA Affect Salvadoran Travellers?
El Salvador is on the list of 92 countries that have a visa waiver programme with the United Kingdom. Citizens from these countries do not need to go through a lengthy visa application process if they wish to visit the UK. Under the new system, Salvadoran citizens will still not require a visa for a trip to the UK. However, they will need to apply for an ETA before they travel.
Some Salvadoran citizens go to the UK with the intention of staying there for a long period, living there or working in the country. In these situations, they currently need a visa. This will not change under the new system. Travellers who need a visa will have to go through a separate visa application process, which is unrelated to the ETA.
However, Salvadoran travellers who do not plan to work in the UK, and are spending less than six months in the country, will be able to do so with just an ETA. Many travellers come to the UK to enjoy a holiday, but there are other reasons to travel. These reasons include the following:
• Business trips
• Short-term courses or study programmes
• Visiting friends and family
• Medical procedures
Travellers coming to the UK for any of these reasons can apply for an ETA. Some Salvadoran citizens may want to come to the UK to seek asylum. In this case, there is a separate application process they will need to go through.
The UK ETA for Salvadoran Citizens Application Process
Until the ETA system is finalised, information about it cannot be completely verified. The British government has released some information about the planned programme, but this is subject to change. Nevertheless, it is worth looking at this information, as it gives travellers an idea of what to expect when the programme comes into effect.
The ETA application form will only be available online. As the ETA is part of a digital system, there will be no paper-based alternatives offered. Some requirements for the ETA have been released. While these may change when the system is introduced, they include the following:
• A valid biometric passport from a country on the list of eligibility. Depending on the issuing country, this passport may need to be in-date for 3-6 months from the planned date of travel.
• A recent digital passport photo.
• personal information. This will include 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 address while in the country.
• Credit or debit card to cover the ETA application fee.
• Disclosure of criminal record, historical immigration offences, and membership of proscribed organisations or groups.
The final point on this list is particularly important. One of the reasons the ETA is being introduced is to serve as a screening process for security risks. An applicant who is considered to pose a threat to the United Kingdom will have their ETA application denied.
Processing the UK ETA for Salvadoran Citizens
Part of the ETA application involves paying a non-refundable fee. If this is not paid in full, the application will not be processed. Once the application is complete and the fee has been paid, it will enter the processing queue. A processing time of up to 72 hours is expected, so travellers should keep this in mind when they are planning their journey.
It is essential that travellers reach their departure airport with their ETA application completed and approved. Carriers are expected to make an approved ETA a condition of carriage. If a traveller does not have a UK ETA for Salvadoran citizens when they reach their boarding gate, they might be denied the right to board the plane.
On arrival in the UK, travellers will pass through British border control. Here, they will once again need to show their ETA. If an ETA application is denied, the applicant can appeal the decision. However, this will be a lengthier process than a standard application. A traveller whose ETA application has been denied may also apply for a visa, which has a much lengthier processing time.
Travelling with the UK ETA for Salvadoran Citizens
The ETA gives Salvadoran travellers permission to spend up to six months in the UK. The United Kingdom consists of four constituent countries, which are England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. There is no border control between these countries, so travellers can move freely between them as they wish, using any form of transport. This permission does not apply to the Republic of Ireland, which is an independent country.
The United Kingdom is not a member of the Schengen common travel zone or the European Union. An ETA will only affect a traveller’s ability to enter the United Kingdom. It has no validity in any other European country, so Salvadorans who want to visit other parts of Europe as part of their trip will need to look into the relevant entry requirements. The EU is in the process of introducing its own similar system, the ETIAS. For more information on the UK ETA, please refer to the FAQ page.