When the UK’s new ETA system is launched, Uruguayan travellers will be among those affected. The ETA programme introduces digital travel permits to the UK and is expected to come into effect by the year 2024. Read this guide to find out all about the new programme, including how it works, what travellers can expect from the system and how to apply for an ETA.
What Is the UK ETA for Uruguayan Citizens?
The ETA, or Electronic Travel Authorisation, is the UK’s new system of digital travel permits. It is inspired by similar programmes already in place in various countries around the world, such as the Canadian ETA or the United States ESTA. Like these programmes, the ETA will function as a visa waiver, replacing the UK’s current visa waiver scheme. With an ETA, a traveller has permission to enter the UK and spend up to six months in the country.
The ETA is not a visa and has a much faster, more straightforward application process. Travellers can apply for their ETA entirely online. It forms part of the British government’s wider plan to digitalise the UK’s borders, giving better oversight over who is entering the country and making it easier to detect potential threats to national security.
How Will the New ETA Affect Uruguayan Travellers?
The UK has released a list of 92 countries eligible for the ETA. Uruguay is one of the countries on this list. At present, the UK lets Uruguayan visitors enter under a visa waiver scheme. This means that holders of an Uruguayan passport do not need to provide any extra documents when they travel to the UK. Under the new system, they will need to have an ETA, or they may be denied entry.
Uruguayans travel to the UK for a number of different reasons. Some of these include:
• Business trips
• Visits to friends or family
• Short study courses
• Medical treatment
All of these visitors will need to apply for the UK ETA for Uruguayan citizens, regardless of their personal reason for travelling. There is just one standardised form that all applicants will need to complete.
Many Uruguayans have European ancestry and hold passports from countries like Italy, Germany, Spain or Portugal. They will also have to apply for an ETA, just as holders of Uruguayan passports do.
There are some circumstances under which a citizen from Uruguay needs a visa for the UK. Uruguayans who want to work in the UK (temporarily or long-term), live there permanently or spend more than six months there require a visa. This is not changing under the new ETA programme, and the visa application system will remain exactly the same. The ETA is entirely separate from the visa system.
Applying for the UK ETA for Uruguayan Citizens
Uruguayans who want to travel to the UK should first consult the list of requirements for the ETA. As the system is still being developed, this information is subject to change. Some requirements are still incomplete and will be confirmed later. For example, the cost of the ETA application fee has not yet been released.
While this information may change, it gives travellers an idea of what they can expect from the ETA application form. The form is expected to be similar to other digital travel permits in different countries. Requirements include:
• A valid biometric passport issued by one of the countries on the eligibility list.
• A recent digital passport photo.
• Personal information. This will include data such as date of birth, employment information, contact details, etc.
• The purpose of the traveller’s visit to the UK.
• Details about the planned trip to the UK, such as an address while in the country.
• A debit or credit card for the ETA application fee.
• Disclosure of a criminal record, past immigration offences and membership (past or present) of any proscribed groups or organisations.
The last point on this list is crucial for the purposes of border security. Travellers who are identified as a potential threat to the UK or its citizens will have their ETA application denied. This might include travellers with connections to terrorist groups, organised crime or gangs.
The ETA application will only be available online. The application fee can also be paid online.
Processing the UK ETA for Uruguayan Citizens
Only when the application form is completed correctly and the fee has been paid in full will an ETA application be processed. Applicants should make sure they fill out their forms correctly and accurately, or they risk delaying the processing time. Standard processing time is expected to be up to 72 hours.
In other countries with their own systems of digital travel permits, airlines have made the permit a condition of carriage. This is expected to happen with the UK ETA, too. As such, travellers should ensure that they apply for their ETA with enough time for it to be fully processed before they reach their departure airport.
Passengers will be asked to show an approved UK ETA for Uruguayan citizens at the boarding gate. Those who do not have an ETA may be denied boarding. They will need to present their ETA again when they pass through border control at their arrival airport in the UK.
In the case that an ETA application is denied, there will be a process of appeals available. If an appeal fails, applicants may also have the opportunity to apply for a visa to visit the UK.
Travelling With the UK ETA for Uruguayan Citizens
The ETA gives Uruguayan citizens permission to enter the UK and spend up to six months in the country. They are not allowed to work while in the country, but they can enrol on a course of study. The UK consists of four constituent countries, England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. There is no border control between these four nations, enabling travellers to move freely between them using any means of transport. The UK has a land border with one country, the Republic of Ireland. It is an independent nation, so the ETA has no validity there.
Some Uruguayan travellers may wish to visit other European countries as part of their trip. The ETA is not a valid entry document for any part of the European Union or the Schengen common travel zone, so travellers will need to look up the relevant entry requirements for those areas. The ETIAS, which is the European Union’s own digital travel permit system, is currently in development and will be launched in late 2023.