The United Kingdom is introducing a new travel permit system that will affect Macanese travellers. The ETA, which is expected to come into effect before the year 2024, is replacing the current visa waiver scheme. In this guide, you can learn how to apply for an ETA and what to expect from the UK’s new system.
What Is the UK ETA for Macanese Citizens?
The ETA, which stands for Electronic Travel Authorisation, is part of the British government’s wider plan to digitalise the country’s borders. It gives the government greater oversight over people entering the UK and helps them more effectively flag up potential security risks. This system is new to the UK, but seasoned travellers will not find it a surprise, as it is based on programmes that already exist in countries like Canada and the United States.
The ETA is designed to replace the UK’s visa waiver scheme. It is not a visa, and the process to apply for an ETA is far simpler and faster than a visa application. Unlike a visa, travellers can complete the ETA application entirely online.
How Does the ETA Affect Macanese Travellers?
The UK has a list of 92 countries and territories whose citizens do not require a visa to enter the country. As Macau is on the list, Macanese travellers can currently visit the UK without completing any paperwork. When the new system comes into effect, Macanese visitors will still not need to apply for a visa, but they will need an ETA.
The UK is a popular tourist destination for visitors from all over the world. Many Macanese nationals travel there on holiday, but there are a number of other reasons why Macanese travellers visit the country. Here are a few:
• Business trips
• Short-term courses or study programmes
• Visits to friends and family
• Medical treatment
Regardless of a traveller’s reason for coming to the country, they will need to apply for a UK ETA for Macanese citizens. All travellers who plan to spend less than six months in the UK must complete the same application form and go through the same process to acquire their ETA permit.
There are some exceptions to the ETA system. Macanese travellers who want to spend more than six months in the UK, live there permanently or work while in the country will need to apply for a visa. This is one part of the system that is not changing. The visa application process will not be altered, and the ETA programme will be entirely separate from the system of visas.
Applying for the UK ETA for Macanese Citizens
The ETA application form is only available online. There will be no alternative means of applying for an ETA available, as it is part of a completely digital system.
At the moment, the details of the ETA application process have not yet been finalised. This means that the information available is subject to change, and some important details have not been set, such as the cost of the processing fee. Despite this, some information about requirements has been published. Macanese citizens should look at this list before travelling. Although the requirements might change slightly, it can give them some ideas about what to expect from the new system. The requirements include the following:
• A valid biometric passport from a country on the list of eligibility. Macau SAR passports are on the list, but Chinese passports are not.
• A recent digital passport photo.
• Personal information — this will include various data, such as their 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 address while in the country/.
• A credit or debit card to pay the ETA application fee.
• Disclosure of criminal records, past immigration offences, and membership (past or present) of proscribed groups or organisations.
The final point is used to identify potential security risks by flagging up visitors with links to terrorism, gangs and organised crime. If a traveller is considered to pose a threat to the UK, their application for an ETA will be denied.
A processing fee must be paid as part of the application. Until this fee is paid in full, the application is not considered complete and will not be processed.
Processing the UK ETA for Macanese Citizens
Since the introduction of the United States ESTA and Canadian ETA, carriers have made these permits a condition of carriage. The same is expected to happen in the case of the UK ETA. Travellers who do not have a UK ETA for Macanese citizens may be denied boarding when they reach their boarding gate.
Because of this, it is important that travellers apply for their ETA with plenty of time to spare. The ETA is expected to take up to 72 hours to process. If the application is approved, the holder must show their ETA at their departure airport and again on arrival in the UK.
If the application is denied, the applicant can choose to appeal the decision. Should the appeal fail, the applicant may still have the option to apply for a visa to visit the UK instead. The visa application process takes considerably longer than an ETA application.
Travelling With the UK ETA for Macanese Citizens
An approved ETA gives Macanese travellers permission to enter the UK and stay in the country for up to six months. The UK is made up of four constituent countries: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. With an ETA, travellers can move freely between these countries as they wish, as there is no internal border control. However, the ETA does not give a traveller permission to enter the Republic of Ireland, which is an independent country.
As the UK is not a member of the European Union or the Schengen common travel zone, the ETA has no validity in other countries. Travellers from Macau who would like to visit other European countries during their trip should look into the relevant entry requirements and ensure they meet them before travelling. The European Union’s own travel authorisation programme, referred to as the ETIAS, is currently being developed. This is likely to affect Macanese travellers, just as the UK ETA does.