When the UK’s new ETA system of digital travel permits is introduced, it will affect travellers from all over the world. Citizens of Trinidad and Tobago are among those who will need to apply for an ETA to visit the UK. The new programme, which will be launched by the year 2024, is replacing the current system of visa waivers. Read on for a guide to how the ETA system works, what to expect when travelling and how to apply for an ETA.
What Is the UK ETA for Trinidadian and Tobagonian Citizens?
Some experienced travellers will already be familiar with the concept of digital travel permits, which have become increasingly common in countries around the world in recent years. The UK’s new ETA, or Electronic Travel Authorisation, is similar to other systems, such as the ESTA in Canada or the ETA in the United States. It allows visitors to enter the country without going through a lengthy visa application process. Travellers who are issued an ETA have permission to spend up to six months in the UK.
The ETA forms part of a larger British government plan to digitalise the borders of the United Kingdom. Its introduction will give the government more oversight over who is entering the country, making it easier to detect potential security risks.
How Will Trinidadian and Tobagonian Travellers Be Affected?
Members of the Commonwealth of Nations are listed among the 92 countries with which the UK maintains visa waiver agreements. As a Commonwealth country, Trinidad and Tobago is on the list. Under the UK’s current system, citizens of Trinidad and Tobago do not need to apply for a visa or any additional paperwork to enter the UK. Instead, their passport is the only document they need. When the new programme is launched, this will change, and they will need to apply for the UK ETA for Trinidadian and Tobagonian citizens.
The UK has a close relationship with Trinidad and Tobago, and there is a large Trinidadian and Tobagonian diaspora living in big cities, such as London. Visitors to the UK come from Trinidad and Tobago for a variety of reasons, which may include:
• Business trips
• Courses of study
• Visiting friends and family
• Medical treatment
All visitors from Trinidad and Tobago who plan to stay in the UK for less than six months will need to apply for an ETA. There is just one application form to complete, regardless of the individual traveller’s reason for coming to the country.
Under some particular circumstances, citizens of Trinidad and Tobago need to apply for a visa to come to the UK. This is true under the current system and will not change when the ETA scheme comes into effect. Travellers who intend to settle permanently in the UK, work there (for both short- and long-term periods), or spend more than six months in the country must apply for the relevant visa before they begin their journey.
Applying for the UK ETA for Trinidadian and Tobagonian Citizens
Citizens of Trinidad and Tobago who wish to travel to the UK can apply for the ETA through an online form. The ETA is designed to form part of a fully digital programme, so there will be no offline alternatives available. The application fee for the ETA can also be paid online.
The online application form contains a number of fields to complete, including personal details, travel plans and the disclosure of sensitive background information. Some information about the requirements for the ETA has been released, and it’s a good idea for travellers to consult these for an idea of what to expect. These requirements include:
• 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.
The final point on this list relates to the security aspect of the new ETA system. Travellers who have connections to organised crime, terrorist groups or gangs may find that their application is denied, as they are deemed to be a potential security threat.
It is important to note that this information may be subject to change. The system has not yet been finalised, and some details could be altered before it comes into effect.
Applicants should take care when completing their form to ensure that they do it correctly to avoid delays or problems later in the process. When the form has been completed in full and the application fee paid, the application will move to the processing stage. Incomplete or unpaid applications will not be processed.
Processing the UK ETA for Trinidadian and Tobagonian Citizens
The ETA application is projected to take up to 72 hours of processing time. If their application is successful, the traveller now has permission to enter the UK and does not need to complete any further forms. They will need to have their ETA ready to show staff at their departure airport and again when they arrive in the UK and pass through border control.
If an ETA application is denied, the applicant can opt to go through the system of appeals. Applicants whose appeals fail may still have the option of applying for a visa to visit the UK instead, although this is a much longer process.
The ETA is expected to be made a condition of carriage. This means that travellers must apply for their ETA in advance, allowing enough time for it to be processed. Passengers will be asked to present their approved UK ETA for Trinidadian and Tobagonian citizens at the boarding gate of their departure airport. If they cannot do this, they may be denied boarding.
Travelling With the UK ETA for Trinidadian and Tobagonian Citizens
With an approved ETA, a traveller from Trinidad and Tobago has permission to enter the United Kingdom and spend a period of up to six months there. They can move freely between the four constituent countries of the UK (England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland). They cannot work, but they can enrol on a course of study.
The ETA is only valid in the UK and has no legal relevance in the Republic of Ireland or any other European country. The UK is not a member of the Schengen common travel zone or the European Union, which has its own entry requirements. Travellers who wish to visit other European countries as part of their trip are advised to look into these requirements, which may include the ETIAS, the EU’s own digital permit system, set to be introduced in late 2023.