The UK is expected to implement its new ETA programme before the year 2024. Lithuanian citizens are among those who will be affected by the new system, which is designed to replace the current visa waiver scheme. This guide explains all that Lithuanian travellers need to know before they travel to the UK, including how to apply for the new ETA.
What Is the UK ETA for Lithuanian Citizens?
The ETA, or Electronic Travel Authorisation, is a new programme being introduced by the British government. It forms part of the government’s plan to fully digitalise the UK’s borders and is based on existing programmes that are currently in place in countries like Canada and the United States.
With the ETA in place, the government will have greater oversight over who is entering the country and will be better equipped to identify potential security risks. The ETA is a travel permit, giving travellers permission to enter the UK. It is not a visa. The application process is much simpler than a visa application and can be entirely completed online.
How Does the ETA Affect Lithuanian Travellers?
Lithuania is a member of the European Union. Like all EU member states, it is included on the list of 92 countries that have visa waiver arrangements with the UK. As a result, Lithuanian citizens do not need to complete any forms or paperwork before they travel to the UK. This will change under the new system. Lithuanians will still not require a visa before travelling, but they will need to apply for an ETA.
Lithuanians come to the UK for a number of different reasons. These may include:
• Business trips
• Short-term courses or study programmes
• Visits to friends and family
• Medical treatment
The UK ETA for Lithuanian citizens gives holders permission to travel to the UK for any of the above reasons. There is one single application form that all visitors must complete, regardless of their reason for travelling. The ETA gives travellers permission to spend up to six months in the UK.
Some Lithuanians need a visa to enter the UK under the current system. This will not change. People who want to settle permanently in the UK, stay there for more than six months or work while in the UK require a visa. The visa application process will not be changed by the introduction of the ETA programme, as the visa system remains entirely separate from the new system. Many young Lithuanians come to the UK to work as au pairs. This will require a visa, and there are specific categories of visas designed specifically for au pairs from the EU.
Applying for the UK ETA for Lithuanian Citizens
The ETA application form is available online. As the ETA system is designed to be wholly digital, there will not be any paper-based alternatives.
Before making their travel plans, Lithuanians should take the time to consult the list of requirements for the ETA. Some requirements to complete the ETA application include the following:
• A valid biometric passport from a country on the list of eligibility.
• A recent digital passport photo.
• Personal information — this will include various data, such as date of birth, employment information, contact details, etc.
• The reason for the traveller’s visit to the UK.
• Some details about the planned trip to the UK, such as an address while in the country.
• Payment for the ETA application fee.
• Disclosure of any past criminal record, immigration offences, or membership (past or present) of a proscribed group or organisation.
The final item on the list is crucial for the security component of the ETA. One of the goals of the ETA system is to make it easier for the government to flag potential risks. Travellers who are considered to pose a threat to the UK will have their application denied.
This information is subject to change. The ETA system has not yet been introduced, and some details may be altered as the programme is finalised. For example, at present, we do not have definitive information about how much the ETA application fee will cost. Nevertheless, the currently published information gives us a good overview of what travellers can expect from the new ETA scheme.
Processing the UK ETA for Lithuanian Citizens
Carriers are expected to make an approved ETA a condition of carriage. This is common with the equivalent programmes in the United States and Canada, so it will probably be implemented in the UK, too. Therefore, travellers should start their application with plenty of time to spare. If they do not have a UK ETA for Lithuanian citizens at the boarding gate of their departure airport, they may not be allowed to travel.
The ETA application is expected to take up to 72 hours to process. Before the processing period begins, applicants must complete their form in full and pay the application fee. This is non-refundable.
There are several reasons why an ETA application might be denied. If an application is denied, the applicant has the option of appealing the decision. If the appeal is also rejected, then the applicant may choose to apply for a visa instead. This will take much more time than applying for an ETA and involves a more complicated application process.
Travelling With the UK ETA for Lithuanian Citizens
Travellers will need to show their approved ETA first at their point of departure. Most Lithuanians choose to fly, and there are direct flights connecting Vilnius to several different airports in the UK. However, some might also cross through the Channel Tunnel that connects Great Britain to France or enter via boat. Regardless of how travellers are coming to the UK, they will need to show an ETA.
On arrival, travellers will once again need to show their ETA as they pass through UK border control.
With an approved ETA, travellers can enter the UK and spend up to six months there. Within the United Kingdom, there are no internal border controls. This means that travellers can move freely between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Lithuanians in the UK
There was large-scale Lithuanian migration to the UK following Lithuania’s ascension to the European Union in 2004. Although the UK has now left the EU, a large Lithuanian community remains. With over 150,000 Lithuanians living there, the majority reside in London. Many Lithuanians come to the UK to visit friends and family who have settled there. Others come to study or to enjoy a holiday.