The ETA system, the UK’s new programme of digital travel permits, is set to come into effect by the year 2024, replacing the current system of visa waivers. Once it is in place, citizens of Seychelles will need to hold an ETA before they can enter the UK. This guide will explain what the ETA is, how the system works and how you can apply for your ETA.
What Is the UK ETA for Seychellois Citizens?
In recent years, digital travel permits have been introduced to many countries around the world. Experienced travellers may already have experience with these systems, which include the ESTA in the United States and the ETA in Canada. The ETA, or Electronic Travel Authorisation, is the UK’s version. It is being implemented as part of a larger British government plan to digitalise the country’s borders. The programme will give greater oversight into the travellers entering the country and make it easier to flag up security risks.
The ETA is not a visa. Instead, it will replace the UK’s current visa waiver scheme. An ETA application is much simpler than a visa application and can be completed entirely online. Once a traveller’s application for the ETA has been approved, they have permission to enter the UK and spend up to six months there.
How Will Seychelloin Travellers Be Affected?
The UK has visa waiver agreements in place with 92 countries. As a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, Seychelles is on this list. Like citizens from other Commonwealth countries, at present, Seychellois travellers do not need any paperwork other than their passports to enter the UK. When the new system is introduced, this will change. Visitors from Seychelles will not need a UK visa, but they will need to apply for a UK ETA.
There are many different reasons why Seychelloin travellers visit the UK. These might include:
• Business trips
• Courses of study
• Visiting friends and family
• Medical treatment
The application process for the UK ETA for Seychellois citizens will remain the same, regardless of their reason for travelling. There is one application form that all travellers will need to complete.
There are some exceptions, namely Seychellois travellers who need a visa for the UK. If a citizen of Seychelles wants to work in the UK (temporarily or long-term), live there permanently or spend more than six months there, they will require a proper visa. The process to apply for a visa for the UK is totally unchanged by the introduction of the ETA system and will remain separate.
Applying for the UK ETA for Seychellois Citizens
Seychellois travellers will need to apply for the ETA using an online form. As the ETA system is digital, offline alternatives will not be made available. Applicants must pay a fee as part of the application process. This is non-refundable and can be paid online with a debit or credit card.
While preparing for their journey, travellers should consult the published list of ETA requirements. Some details have not yet been confirmed, such as the final price of the ETA application. Other information is subject to change, as the system has not been finalised yet. In general, though, the list of requirements will give travellers an idea of what to expect and how to prepare for their ETA application. Some requirements 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 an 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 of the reasons the ETA system is being introduced is security. Travellers will be asked to disclose sensitive information about their past in an effort to safeguard the border. If an applicant is considered to be a risk to the UK’s security, their application will be denied.
The application form must be correctly completed and the fee paid in full before an application can be processed.
Processing the UK ETA for Seychellois Citizens
Since digital travel permits have been introduced in other countries, they have often become a condition of carriage. The same is likely to happen in the UK, so travellers will need to complete their ETA application early, allowing enough time for it to be processed and approved before they begin their journey.
The processing time for the ETA is projected to take up to 72 hours. If the application is approved, the traveller now has permission to enter the UK. They will need to present their UK ETA for Seychellois citizens at the boarding gate of their departure airport and again at border control in the UK.
Applications may be denied. In this case, the applicant has some options available. There will be a system of appeals for rejected applications. If the appeal is also denied, the traveller might be able to apply for a visa instead. This is a much longer process and is not as simple as the ETA.
Travelling with the UK ETA for Seychellois citizens
Once a traveller from Seychelles has an ETA, they have permission to spend up to six months in the UK. During this period of time, they cannot work, but they can enrol on a course of study if they wish. Within the UK, there are four constituent countries, including England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. ETA holders can move freely between these areas. They do not, however, have permission to enter the Republic of Ireland, which is an independent country.
The ETA is only valid in the UK. As the UK is not a member state of the European Union or part of the Schengen free travel zone, the ETA has no legal status in other European countries. Seychellois travellers who would like to visit other parts of Europe will need to look up the relevant entry requirements before they begin their journey. The European Union is currently in the process of developing its own digital travel permit, the ETIAS, which is set to come into effect at roughly the same time as the UK’s ETA.