The UK government is introducing a new border control system that will require travellers to get a permit to visit the country. Electronic travel authorisation (ETA) will be available from 2024 and will affect travellers from countries with visa waivers like Malaysia. Visitors need to apply for the ETA and get the permit before they go to the airport to prevent denial of entry into the country. This guide shows the effects of the new UK ETA for Malaysian citizens and provides insights into the requirements and the application process.
What Is the UK ETA for Malaysian Citizens?
The UK government’s new electronic travel authorisation will be used to grant permission to travellers from visa-exempt countries to enter the UK borders. The universal permission to travel requirement is part of the efforts to transform the border and the immigration system. At present, citizens from Malaysia can enter and leave the UK borders without a visa for short-term stays. Since Malaysians only need a passport to enter the UK borders, the authorities have minimal information about them and their activities in the country. With the new ETA system, the government can register the number of Malaysians entering or leaving the country.
Aside from tightening border controls, the UK government can use the ETA to asses risks posed by certain cohorts of people before they are permitted to travel to the UK. The eligibility for the travel permit will be based on a person’s immigration status and if they pose a risk to the UK. Hence, the UK government can block threats and assure travellers about their ability to visit the country in advance. For instance, Malaysian carriers need to check the travellers’ ETA before they leave the country to avoid issues with the border authorities.
The electronic travel permit will follow the same principle as the ETSA digital system and Canada’s ETA scheme. The travel permit is currently in development and will be launched by 2024. Since the permit will be fully digital, it will be convenient for travellers to apply for the ETA online instead of visiting the embassy.
The UK government will provide the requirements for enforcing the scheme by laying the ground rules for the ETA. For instance, the eligibility criteria for getting the ETA is that travellers should be from visa-exempt countries like Malaysia. Citizens from other nationalities without a visa-free arrangement with the UK must apply for a visa, which necessitates visiting the local embassy or consulate.
How Will the ETA System Affect Malaysian Citizens?
While Malaysia is not a member of the European Union, the Malaysian government has special agreements with the UK. That means Malaysian citizens can travel to the UK without a visa. However, with the introduction of the ETA system, Malaysian citizens will require a travel permit to visit the UK. Under the new ETA system, visitors can use the travel permit for short-term stays of up to six months. Malaysians planning to stay in the country longer than six months will require a visa.
The UK ETA for Malaysian citizens also allows travellers to visit the UK for specified reasons only. For instance, visitors can travel to the UK for business meetings, conferences and workshops but cannot use the ETA to seek employment or start a business. Travellers wishing to start a business or seek employment should seek a UK visa. The ETA can also be used for tourism. With the travel permit, Malaysian citizens can visit the UK to explore its top attractions in Northern Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales. Malaysians can visit relatives and friends in the UK for short-term stays. The travel permit also allows travellers seeking medical treatment or pursuing short-term studies to enter the UK.
How to Obtain the UK ETA for Malaysian Citizens
The new UK ETA is yet to be launched, but Malaysian citizens can find information on the eligibility criteria and the requirements for applying for the new travel permit. While the requirements and application process could change when the system is finalised, here are the basic items that travellers need:
• A valid Malaysian passport: Travellers need a biometric passport to apply for the electronic travel permit. The passport provides details on the validity of the applicant’s passport and nationality.
• Email address: Every applicant requires an email address to receive a notification on the status of their application. The approved ETA is also sent to the traveller’s email address.
• Debit/credit card: The ETA attracts a fee, and applicants should provide a valid credit or debit card to complete the payment.
The application process is straightforward for travellers with all the required documents. When filling out the online application form, applicants are expected to provide the following information:
• Personal details and contact information: A traveller must provide their full name during the application. The information should match the name on the passport. The date of birth and contact information is also required. Malaysian citizens must provide their home address, phone number and a valid email address. Travellers under the legal age should provide the contact information of their legal guardians or parents. Visitors travelling for work may be required to provide the employer’s address during the application.
• Passport information: Travellers must provide the necessary information relating to their nationality. The passport details required include the passport number, issue date and expiry date. Visitors with multiple nationalities should provide the details. The ETA will be denied if the passport has less than three months to the expiry date. Travellers with multiple passports should use only one to apply.
• Eligibility questions: Aside from personal and nationality details, travellers must answer the eligibility questions provided. The questions determine the traveller’s immigration history. For instance, an applicant needs to provide information on previous visa denials. Travellers with past criminal charges must disclose the details of the crime, whether it was violent or non-violent. Any affiliation to terrorist groups and terrorist charges should also be disclosed. Visitors with previous drug usage history are required to disclose relevant information and answer questions on the distribution history. The eligibility section also includes health-related questions, like previous infections and immunisations.
After completing the online form, an applicant can make the payment and submit the application. The travel permit will only be processed with the ETA fee. The processing takes a few days, and travellers can get a confirmation to travel within 72 hours.
The UK ETA for Malaysian citizens is valid for six months, and travellers with permits will not need to queue at the border for registration. Since the passport will be scanned to confirm the ETA, travellers should ensure they carry the passport used to apply for the travel permit to avoid issues at the borders. The new ETA system is expected to benefit the UK government and Malaysian citizens. For more information on the UK ETA for Malaysian citizens, travellers can refer to the FAQ page.