Travelling from Switzerland to the UK in 2024 will require a travel permit since the government will roll out a system for issuing electronic travel authorisation (ETA). The permission to travel targets citizens from visa-exempt countries like Switzerland. Securing a travel permit is different from getting a visa since the ETA only provides permission to visit the UK for short stays of six months. Read on to discover what the electronic travel permit entails, the requirements and the process for obtaining an ETA before visiting the UK.
What Is the UK ETA for Swiss Citizens?
The UK electronic travel authorisation is a British travel permit that will soon be available online. The UK ETA for Swiss citizens is part of the permission-to-travel scheme introduced by the British government to improve its border control system. With an approved ETA, citizens from eligible nations can visit Great Britain for different purposes without a visa.
Currently, the UK government has agreements with various countries that allow travellers to traverse UK borders without a visa. The downside to visa-exempt entries into the country is the minimal information recorded at the border about the visitors. This makes it challenging for the border authorities to keep track of the number of travellers entering or leaving the UK and their immigration status. It is also difficult to prevent criminals from taking advantage of the UK’s hospitality. The introduction of an electronic permission-to-travel scheme aims to fill the gaps in the current immigration system.
Travellers from non-visa countries are eligible for the travel permit. All European countries, including Switzerland, are among the visa-exempt nations that meet the ETA eligibility criteria. The UK ETA will not apply to travellers who must obtain a UK visa before travelling. However, getting an ETA is not similar to acquiring a visa since the ETA only permits travellers to board a plane to the UK. The new digital permit uses the same principle as Canada’s ETA programme and ESTA in the United States, designed to strengthen the control and compliance at UK borders.
How the UK ETA Will Affect Swiss Citizens
Switzerland is a part of the European Union, and even with Brexit, Swiss citizens are allowed special freedom of movement in and out of the UK. Swiss travellers fall under the non-visa agreement, and travellers don’t require a visa to travel to the UK. However, when the ETA rolls out, Swiss citizens must apply for a travel permit to visit the UK.
With a valid ETA, Swiss citizens can visit the UK for up to six months. Swiss citizens cannot work or open a business with the ETA, but they can experience UK’s cultural heritage and tour the best landmarks in the country. With the UK ETA for Swiss citizens, travellers from Switzerland can attend business conferences and workshops and meet with clients.
ETA holders can visit the UK for short-term study or medical treatment. Travellers can also use the ETA to visit relatives and attend short-term engagements in the country. For all other reasons for travel that require a longer stay in the UK, like long-term study or working in Britain, Swiss nationals must visit the British embassy or consulate to apply for a visa.
What Are the Requirements for the UK ETA for Swiss Citizens?
While all details for the UK ETA are yet to be finalised, travellers can find entry requirements for obtaining an electronic travel permit. Some of the ETA requirements for Swiss nationals include the following:
• A valid passport: Swiss nationals require a valid passport with biometric details to apply for an ETA. The passport must be valid, and the expiry date should be at least three months from the application date. The passport should have a recent digital photo.
• An active email address: Travellers need an active and accessible email address for receiving notifications from the ETA border authorities. Applicants will receive a confirmation email from the authorities.
• Payment details: During the ETA application, applicants must pay a non-refundable processing fee. Hence, they require a credit or debit card to pay the UK ETA processing fee.
Applying for the UK ETA for Swiss Citizens
Travellers with the requirements to obtain an ETA can start the online application. When the application is live, applicants should provide the following information:
• Personal information: The information required includes name, gender and date of birth. Applicants without a first or last name should indicate the absence of the name by typing FNU for first name unknown or LNU for last name unknown since the field is mandatory.
• Passport information: The Swiss passport provides information on the applicant’s nationality. Applicants will fill in the passport number they intend to use to travel to the UK and passport issuance and expiry dates. If a traveller has other nationalities, they should provide details on their citizenship. Disclosure is also required of additional passport and national ID numbers held by the applicant.
• Contact information: While the mandatory contact information is an email address, Swiss citizens must provide additional contact information. Applicants will disclose their city, postal code, home address and mobile numbers. When applying for a minor, the applicant should include the contact details of the parents and legal guardians. Travellers visiting the UK for business purposes must provide their employer’s name, physical address and phone number.
• Eligibility questions: Applicants are expected to answer the questions asked to determine their eligibility for the electronic travel permit. For instance, travellers will find questions on previous immigration history requiring them to disclose past immigration issues like visa denials. Applicants must also provide details of their criminal history, including violent and non-violent criminal activities. Any history of drug use, possession and distribution must be disclosed in the application. Additionally, applicants should provide information on terrorism activities and charges. The questions on terrorism cover membership, activities and charges related to terrorist groups.
• Health-related questions: Applicants must answer health-related questions and provide details on previous and existing infections. Details on vaccinations and immunisations may also be required.
• Payment information: Applicants should include a payment method for the processing fee. With the payment, an ETA application can be processed and approved.
After applying for the UK ETA for Swiss citizens, applicants will wait for the application to be processed within 72 hours. Travellers should plan accordingly and get an ETA several days before travelling to the UK. However, applicants with last-minute travel plans can also get an approved ETA. Carriers transporting Swiss nationals from Switzerland to the UK must check that travellers have an approved electronic travel authorisation before the journey. Travellers from Switzerland are encouraged to review the UK ETA FAQ page for additional information.