What is the UK ETA Mobile App?

| July 4, 2024
Mobile app for UK ETA

The British government’s new visitor screening scheme, the UK Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA), is currently being rolled out to nationals of the following nations:

In the coming months the scheme will be extended to take in a number of additional countries before eventually becoming a mandatory requirement for all except British or Irish visitors to the United Kingdom by the end of 2024. This is the proposed time scale although it will likely be 2025 before the system is fully operational. 

What countries require a UK ETA?

Intending visitors to any of the four United Kingdom countries (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland) must be pre-approved before even departing for the UK by any regular methods of travel. The UK ETA, once granted, is digitally linked to a passport and the approval shows up when screened by any authorised travel authority be it by land, sea or air.

Without the required UK ETA it will not be possible for any unauthorised person to depart from any part of the world if the intended destination is the United Kingdom. The UK ETA application process consists of submitting a detailed form and other documentation. This can only be done either online or by means of an official app for smartphones as there is no postal alternative.

The UK ETA app can be downloaded to the latest smartphone models and is available in the English language, and support for other languages will be added in due course.

Check for Suitability

The UK ETA app is a recent development and, as such, will not function on older phones or those with limited capacity. It can be downloaded to both Android and iPhones once certain criteria have been met:

Android Requirements

  • At least Android version 8.0 or later
  • Must have a minimum of 165MB storage space available
  • Have 3G, 4G, 5G or Wi-Fi Passport connectivity

These requirements can be found in the phone settings and the UK ETA app can be downloaded from Google Play Store.

iPhone Requirements

  • An Apple iPhone 7, 7 Plus or later model
  • IOS (operating system) 13.2 or more recent
  • 179MB minimum storage space available
  • Connectivity to 3G, 4G, 5G or Wi-Fi

The bulk of modern iPhones more than meet the necessary criteria but these can be checked in the phone settings and the app is available on the Apple App Store.

Before submitting the UK ETA application via the app it is necessary to have:

  1. The eligible passport that will be used for the trip to the United Kingdom
  2. A valid email address for communication and notifications
  3. Google Pay, Apple Pay or accepted debit or credit card for payment

The UK ETA app is primarily for the use of the phone owner but can also be used for another person’s application. In order to to this the person in question should be present at the time of the application as it will be necessary to take his or her photograph and also scan the face.

Using the UK ETA App

Following the procedure for submitting an application using the UK ETA app is relatively straightforward but mistakes can be made if care and attention is not paid. Applicants should ensure they follow all instructions as they are laid out and submit or complete any documentation. While mistakes and omissions at this point do not mean the application will be denied it can lead to unwanted problems and delays.

Photo of Passport

Use the phone’s camera to take a clearly focused photograph of the passport that will be used for travelling to the UK. Note that it must be a photo of the original passport and not a copy. The photo must show the complete page (including the lines of letters and numbers at the foot of the page) and the text must be clearly legible. The app will helpfully offer prompts to ensure the entire page is included and all text is clear and easily read.

Passport Scan

More recent passports have a symbol on the cover that indicate it is a biometric passport. The symbol (a white circle and line on a black background) can be scanned by the UK ETA app by aligning the top edge of the phone with the centre of the passport. The scan will verify the passport and record passport details stored in the passport’s embedded microchip.

If the app cannot read the biometric symbol, or there is none present, these details may be alternatively acquired from a scan of the passport photograph.

Facial Scan

The UK ETA app will also require a scan of the applicant’s face as part of the application process. This can be done by holding the phone’s camera up to the face and scanning slowly until complete. This requirement does not apply to children under nine years of age.


A photograph of the applicant is also necessary and this must comply with the normal regulations governing passport photographs:

  • Use a light, plain background
  • Head must be held straight facing the camera directly
  • A neutral expression must be used (no smiling, grimacing or scowling)
  • The eyes must be open and clearly visible (remove spectacles if there is glare in the photo)
  • Photo must include the head and shoulders
  • No head covering should be worn (unless for specific medical or religious reasons)
  • There must be no shadows, people or objects showing in the background
  • It may take several attempts to get the photograph exactly to the specifications required but any rejected photos can be retaken before final submission.

Final Steps

The final steps in applying for a UK ETA via the app are the same as those taken when applying online. A questionnaire must be completed and this will cover various personal details and topics.

The applicant must supply details including:

  • Full name and address
  • Date of birth
  • Contact information
  • Current employment information
  • Nationality (all nationalities if more than one)
  • Information regarding any criminal record or prison sentences

All information given by the applicant will be thoroughly checked through numerous British, European and world security databases. Once no red flags are raised, the application should be approved within two to three days (sometimes less) and the applicant notified at the email address supplied.

After Approval

Once the application is submitted and approved, the UK ETA app can be deleted from the phone as the approval is linked to the passport not the phone and the app is no longer required. Approved travellers will be permitted to board their flight to the United Kingdom.

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