The UK is introducing a new travel authorisation programme that will affect many visitors. The ETA, which replaces the current system of visa waivers, will be in place by the year 2024. Travellers from Antigua and Barbuda planning a visit to the UK should make themselves familiar with this new system. Read on for a guide to the new ETA system and learn how it will affect the citizens of Antigua and Barbuda.
What Is the UK ETA for Antigua and Barbuda Citizens?
The Electronic Travel Authorisation system, or ETA, is an effort by the British government to digitalise the country’s borders. Frequent travellers may already be familiar with such programmes, including the United States ESTA or the Canadian ETA. These systems are the inspiration for the ETA, which will operate in a very similar way.
Effectively, the ETA serves as a digital permit, granting the holder permission to visit the United Kingdom. It’s important to note that the ETA is not a visa. Instead, it is replacing the current visa waiver programme for Antigua and Barbuda citizens. Once the ETA system takes effect, the British government will be able to have greater oversight concerning the people entering and leaving the country. It creates a stronger screening process for those coming to the United Kingdom.
How Does the ETA Affect Citizens of Antigua and Barbuda?
At present, the UK has a visa waiver in effect for citizens of 92 countries. This list includes the countries of the Commonwealth, such as Antigua and Barbuda. When the ETA programme starts, travellers from these countries will be affected. They will need to apply for an ETA before entering the UK, as the old visa waiver system is no longer going to be valid.
The UK ETA for Antigua and Barbuda citizens will be issued to travellers entering the UK for a number of different reasons. These might include:
• Business trips
• Short-term courses or study programmes
• Visits to friends and family
• Medical treatment
It is important to note that the ETA does not cover visitors who wish to work while in the UK.
Once a citizen of Antigua and Barbuda has been issued an ETA, they can stay in the country for a period of up to six months. If they want to stay for a longer period or plan to work in the United Kingdom, they will need to apply for a separate visa.
Applying for the UK ETA for Antigua and Barbuda Citizens
Some information about the ETA system has been released. This is subject to change, and a more accurate overview of the programme will be published closer to its start date. However, the currently available information gives travellers an idea of what to expect.
A list of requirements for the ETA has been released. At present, it includes:
• A valid biometric passport from a country on the eligibility list.
• 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 address while in the country.
• The ETA application fee.
As well as this information, travellers will be expected to disclose some key details about their past. Applicants will be asked if they have a criminal record, if they have ever committed any immigration offences, and if they are or have ever been a member of a proscribed organisation. These questions are designed to screen out travellers who may pose a potential threat to the United Kingdom; if an applicant is considered to be a security risk, their ETA application will be denied.
Travellers will need to apply for an ETA online. The ETA is a totally digital system, so no paper-based alternatives will be available.
Processing the UK ETA for Antigua and Barbuda Citizens
Prior to travelling, visitors should complete the ETA application form in full. They will also need to pay a non-refundable fee. Until the fee has been paid, the application will not be considered complete. The fee must be paid in full before the application can be processed.
Travellers will need to allow enough time for their ETA application to be processed. Processing time for the ETA is expected to last up to 72 hours. It is imperative that visitors have a completed ETA before they go to the airport to start their journey to the United Kingdom, so they should complete their application well in advance.
It is anticipated that carriers will make a completed ETA a condition of carriage. Without an ETA, passengers may be denied boarding and will be unable to begin their journey. They will need to show their approved ETA when they are at their departure airport and again on arrival in the UK.
Travelling with the UK ETA for Antigua and Barbuda citizens
When a traveller is granted a UK ETA for Antigua and Barbuda citizens, they can spend up to six months inside the country. During this time, they can travel freely around the UK. Although the UK consists of four constituent countries, there is no internal border control. This means that travellers can move between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland without any checks or additional forms to fill in. The Republic of Ireland is an independent country, so it is not covered by the UK ETA.
The ETA is only valid for the United Kingdom. Citizens of Antigua and Barbuda who are planning to visit other European countries will need to look up the individual entry requirements before travelling.
Citizens of Antigua and Barbuda in the United Kingdom
As Antigua and Barbuda is a Commonwealth country, it has strong ties to the United Kingdom. There are around 4,000 Antigua and Barbuda-born residents in the UK. This may seem like a small number, but Antigua and Barbuda itself has a population of less than 100,000.
Citizens of Antigua and Barbuda often come to the UK to visit their friends and family, study, go on business trips or take a holiday. The most popular destinations are large cities like London, and there are daily direct flights between London and Antigua.