UK ETA for Australian Citizens and How it will Affect Travel

A Guide to the UK ETA for Australian Citizens

From 2023, Australian citizens travelling to Great Britain for business, study, work, medical treatment or pleasure will need to apply for an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA). Learn how the new ETA system will affect Australians travelling to the UK and some of the most popular places to visit while in the country.

What is the UK ETA?

The new British ETA system is an electronic programme designed to monitor arrivals to the UK more thoroughly. Those who have travelled to the USA in recent years will be familiar with the ESTA programme. The ETA is the British version.

The UK ETA for Australian nationals

Currently, Australians travelling to the UK for business or pleasure do not need a visa. However, from 2023 onwards, they will need to apply for an ETA before their trip. The ETA is an electronic entry permit that allows travellers from eligible countries to visit the UK for up to six months.

The ETA application process will be fully digitalised: visitors will be able to apply online. Once the ETA has been approved, travellers will be able to enter the UK anytime within a period of six months. The introduction of the ETA for Australian citizens is part of an initiative by the UK government to streamline the process for travellers not needing a UK visa.

Applying for an ETA

Before travelling, visitors will need to have an approved ETA. The processing time for an application is expected to be up to 72 hours. With that in mind, travellers must allow plenty of time to process their application. There will be a processing fee for ETA applications.

The application involves an online form. This is a digital system, so there is no offline alternative. When completing the application, travellers to the UK will need to provide the following:

A valid biometric passport (this should be valid for 6 months from the date the traveller intends to return to Australia).
Information about travel plans, including the reason for visiting the UK.
Contact details, including name, address, telephone number and email address.

As the programme comes closer to implementation, more precise information about the contents of the form will be known.

The impact of the ETA on Australian citizens

The launch of the UK ETA system is not expected to significantly impact Australians travelling to the UK. Most Australian visitors will meet the eligibility criteria for an ETA, and the process will not affect their experience once they arrive in the country.

It is, however, important to note that those planning to work or stay in the UK for longer than six months will still need to apply for a visa. For travellers who are unsure whether they meet the UK ETA requirements or need to apply for a visa, it is advisable to check in advance.

Australian visitors to the UK

Each year, hundreds of thousands of Australians make the trip to the UK to visit family and friends or to explore the country. Numbers have increased steadily throughout the 21st century: the latest statistics show that 1,063,000 Australians visited the UK in 2019, an increase of more than 20% since 2004.[1]

Travel in the time of COVID

The COVID-19 pandemic had a profound impact on the travel industry, with many countries imposing strict travel restrictions in an attempt to curb the spread of the virus. This resulted in a sharp decline in the number of visitors to the UK, with visits to the City of London decreasing to just 2.6 million in 2020 from 21.7 million in 2019.[2]

Why do Australians come to the UK?

There are four main groups of Australian visitors to the UK: holidaymakers, students, businesspeople and those with family ties. Holidaymakers make up the vast majority of Australian visitors to the UK.[3]

Many Australians have family in the UK due to the shared history and close connections between the two countries. In fact, over 1 million people born in England now live in Australia.[4] Those who carry a British passport will face no changes when entering the country; however, Australian citizens with British ancestry or connections but without a UK or Irish passport must now complete the ETA process.

Top destinations for travellers to the UK


From iconic landmarks like Big Ben and Westminster Abbey to world-class museums like The British Museum and the Tate Modern, there’s plenty to see and do in this bustling metropolis. The food scene is also diverse, with everything from traditional English fare to more cosmopolitan offerings.[5]


Most visitors start by exploring the Old Town, where they find the medieval Edinburgh Castle perched atop an extinct volcano. Other attractions in the Old Town include the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the Scottish Parliament and the Royal Mile, which is lined with imposing Georgian architecture.

The New Town is also popular with tourists, especially George Street, which is home to several luxurious shops and restaurants, such as The Dome. Beyond the city centre, visitors can take in views of the surrounding countryside from Arthur’s Seat or Calton Hill.[6]


Visitors can start by exploring the Roman baths, which are well preserved and offer a glimpse into the past. The Pump Room is another popular attraction; visitors can enjoy afternoon tea here while listening to live music. The Royal Crescent is another popular attraction, and guests can learn about the history of this iconic building at the nearby museum. Parade Gardens is recommended for those who enjoy the outdoors.[5]

Warwick Castle

Located in Warwickshire (Shakespeare’s home county), this medieval castle was built in 1068 by William the Conqueror. Today, Warwick Castle is one of England’s most popular tourist attractions. Warwick Castle has a lot to offer, including its Great Hall, which has a double staircase that soldiers and knights walked on over 500 years ago.[5]


Located in Wiltshire, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is thought to have been built between 3000 and 2000 BC. Although the exact purpose of Stonehenge is still unknown, it is believed that it was used as a burial ground or a place of astronomical observation. Whatever its purpose may have been, Stonehenge is one of the most popular and curious sites in all of Europe.[5]

The new UK ETA aims to digitalise borders and will affect Australians intending to visit the UK. From 2023 onwards, Australians will need to apply for an ETA before travelling to the UK.