The UK Home Office has made drastic changes to the way they handle border control and immigration. Their drive to streamline the process and increase border visibility has led to the development of a new UK ETA system. This system is expected to roll out in 2023 and be fully operational by the end of 2024. In the meantime, it is crucial for those who are planning to travel to the UK to understand how the ETA system will affect their travels. This guide will cover everything there is to know about the UK ETA for Maldivian citizens, including how to apply, what documents one will need and eligibility criteria.
What Is the UK ETA for Maldivian Citizens?
An ETA is an electronic travel authorisation. The ETA will be linked to the traveller’s passport electronically; hence, the need for applicants to have a biometric passport. Biometric passports are passports that contain the holder’s biometrics — such as their fingerprint or iris scan — in addition to traditional information, such as their name and date of birth.
The UK ETA is similar to the electronic travel authorisation systems used by other countries, such as Canada (eTA), Australia (ETA) and the United States (ESTA). These systems are designed to streamline the travel application process and facilitate entry into the country for eligible travellers from the Maldives.
UK ETAs will be valid for multiple trips into the country over a period of 6 months. ETAs cannot be renewed from inside the United Kingdom. If a traveller from the Maldives wants to stay in the country for longer than 6 months, they will need to apply for another type of visa before their trip.
How to Apply for a UK ETA for Maldivian Citizens
Applying for the UK ETA for Maldivian citizens will be done online through the official UK visa website. The application process is straightforward and should take a few minutes to complete. Note that all eligible Maldivian travellers must apply for the ETA regardless of age. Below are some of the details that applicants should have on hand before starting the application process:
Applicants will need to provide some personal information, such as their full name, date of birth and gender. Special characters will be permitted in the name field, and applicants without a last name will be allowed to enter LNU (last name unknown) in the surname field.
This includes the applicant’s country of citizenship, passport number, passport issuance date and the expiry date of the passport. Maldivians with multiple citizenships will also need to disclose this information and provide national ID numbers and passport numbers of their other nationalities.
This includes an email address, phone number, and mailing address. It is critical that this information is accurate and up to date, as it will be used to communicate with applicants about their application status and any updates to the ETA program. While all eligible travellers should apply for the ETA regardless of age, in cases where a minor is travelling, the contact information provided can be that of a legal guardian or parent.
Maldivians will need to provide information about their current employment situation. This includes their job title and the contact information of the employer. The UK ETA application asks for this information in order to determine if the applicant is a genuine tourist or visitor and unlikely to overstay their welcome.
Applicants will need to answer a number of questions in order to determine their eligibility. Some of these questions relate to the applicant’s criminal history, as the UK government is interested in ensuring that only those with clean records are allowed into the country.
Other questions relate to the applicant’s health, as the government wants to avoid granting entry to anyone who might pose a risk to public health. There are questions about the applicant’s previous immigration history and drug use or possession history.
The last step in the process is making a secure payment using a debit or credit card. Applicants should ensure they are on the correct government portal before making any payment. Once the payment has been processed, the application will be reviewed within a few days and either approved or denied.
If approved, the applicant will receive an email confirmation, and their ETA will be valid for travel to the UK for six months — beginning from the date of issuance. If denied, the applicant will also receive an email notification with an explanation of why their application was not approved. Travellers can try and apply for a visa if the ETA application is denied.
UK ETA Requirements
The ETA requirements demand that applicants must:
• have an electronic passport;
• not stay more than six months in the UK;
• visit for business, tourism or transit purposes;
• not pose a threat to the safety of people in the UK.
The applicant’s passport must also be valid for at least six months from the planned date of departure from the UK.
In addition, Maldivians must not have criminal convictions or plan to work during their visit. Meeting all of these requirements does not guarantee that an ETA will be issued; it is ultimately up to the discretion of the UK authorities. However, following the ETA requirements will give applicants the best chance of being granted entry into the UK.
UK ETA Eligibility
To be eligible for an ETA, travellers must be from one of the 92 countries on the UK’s ETA list. Maldives is one of these countries. While all Maldivian citizens need an ETA to travel to the UK, there are some groups of travellers who are exempt from this requirement. These include British passport holders and Irish passport holders. British Overseas citizens and protected persons are also exempt from the ETA requirement.
Why the Need for the UK ETA?
The ETA will help to increase revenue from the tourism sector by charging a small fee for each application. Visitors from high-spending countries like Germany, Ireland, Spain and the Netherlands will be able to visit the UK and contribute to its economy. Current statistics show that the tourism sector generated £131.5 billion for the UK economy in 2021. It is estimated that the travel industry creates two million jobs in the UK. In addition, the application fee will help offset some costs associated with processing e-visa applications.
Enhanced Border Visibility
The UK ETA will help enhance border visibility by making it easier for authorities to track the entries and exits of travellers. The system will also improve security by allowing authorities to identify potential threats in advance. Currently, Maldivian citizens do not need a visa to enter the UK, but they will soon be required to obtain an ETA. For more information on the UK ETA for Maldivian citizens, travellers may refer to the FAQ page.