The UK is in the process of preparing a new travel authorisation system to replace its current visa waiver programme. This will affect travellers from a number of different countries, including Greece. In this guide, you will learn everything you need to know about the ETA, including what to do before travelling and how to apply for it.
What Is the UK ETA for Greek Citizens?
The Electronic Travel Authorisation, known as the ETA, is a new programme that is part of the British government’s plan to digitalise the UK’s borders. This system is entirely new to the UK, but it is based on programmes that are already in place in other countries. Travellers who have experience with the Canadian ETA or United States ESTA will have a good idea of what to expect from the British ETA, as it is very similar to these schemes.
Greek citizens do not require a visa to travel to the UK. This will not change under the new system. However, they will need to obtain an ETA before travelling. The ETA is essentially a digital permit that grants a traveller permission to enter the country. Unlike a visa, it has a straightforward application process with a short processing time.
How Does the ETA Affect Greek Travellers?
At present, there is a list of 92 countries that fall under the UK’s visa waiver programme. The citizens of these countries can travel to the UK without applying for a visa. However, under the new system, they will need to apply for an ETA before travelling. As a member state of the European Union, Greece is on this list.
Many Greeks come to the UK for the purpose of tourism, but there are other reasons they might travel, too. The UK ETA for Greek citizens will allow them to spend up to six months in the country. It covers people who are travelling for a variety of reasons, which might include:
• Business trips
• Short-term courses or study programmes
• Visits to friends and family
• Medical treatment
The ETA does not cover Greek citizens who want to settle permanently in the UK, work there, or spend more than six months there. These travellers currently need to apply for a visa, and this will not change under the new system. The visa application process will remain completely separate from the ETA programme. Many young Greeks come to the UK to work as au pairs. There are specific visas they will need to apply for, as the ETA does not grant permission to work in the UK.
Applying for the UK ETA for Greek citizens
As the ETA system has not been finalised yet, information about it is subject to change. Some details have been released, but these are not yet final. Nevertheless, they give Greek travellers an outline of the system, providing a general idea of what to expect. Before travelling, visitors are advised to consult the published list of requirements for the ETA. These include:
• A valid biometric passport from a country on the list of eligibility.
• A recent digital passport photo.
• personal information. This will include data such as date of birth, employment information, contact details, etc.
• The reason for the traveller’s visit to the UK.
• Basic details about the planned trip to the UK, such as the visitor’s address while in the country
• A credit or debit card for the ETA application fee.
• Past information, including details of a criminal record, immigration offences and membership of proscribed groups or organisations.
The ETA system is designed to help screen out potential security risks. Travellers will be asked to provide details of their past so the government can identify possible threats. If an applicant is considered to be potentially dangerous or poses a risk to the safety of the United Kingdom and the people who live there, their application will be rejected.
Greek travellers will need to complete the ETA application process online. There will be no paper-based alternatives available, as the system is designed to be totally digital. Applicants from Greece will also need to pay the ETA application fee online.
Processing the UK ETA for Greek Citizens
Before an application can be processed, the applicant must pay a fee. This is non-refundable. When the fee has been paid in full, and the form is complete, the ETA application will move to the processing stage.
An ETA application is expected to take up to 72 hours to be processed. Greek travellers must take this into account when making their plans. Carriers might make an approved ETA a condition of carriage. This means that passengers who are unable to show a UK ETA for Greek citizens at their departure airport may be denied boarding.
While most Greek visitors to the UK travel by plane, some might also enter the country on a ferry or cruise ship or by crossing the Channel Tunnel from France. Regardless of how they enter the UK, they will need to show an ETA before they can travel. They will be expected to show their ETA again on arrival.
There are a number of reasons why an ETA application might be denied. If an application is rejected, the applicant can appeal the decision. Alternatively, they might need to apply for a visa instead. This is a more complicated process with a longer processing time.
Travelling With the UK ETA for Greek Citizens
With an approved ETA, a Greek traveller can spend up to six months in the UK. The United Kingdom consists of four constituent countries: England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. There is no border control between these countries, so a traveller from Greece with an ETA can move freely between them, using whatever means of transport they prefer.
Greek Citizens in the United Kingdom
London is the most popular destination for Greek visitors to the UK. This can partly be explained by the large Greek community there. The Greek diaspora in the UK has grown dramatically in recent years, from 26,000 in 2008 to 73,000 in 2021. Many Greeks emigrated to the UK due to the impact of the 2008 financial crisis, which was particularly severe in southern Europe.
Due to the large Greek community in the UK, many visitors come to see friends and family. The UK is also a popular destination for Greek students, both those who enrol in British universities and those who wish to study short-term language courses. Of course, the UK is also an attractive tourist destination, and a large number of Greeks travel purely for leisure. Some of the top visited cities include London and Edinburgh.