How the New UK ETA for Canterbury Affects Travellers

Canterbury is a city in Kent county in South Eastern England famed for its atmospheric mediaeval streets and splendid cathedral. Its cathedral has been home to the pastoral centre of England since the 7th century. Designated as one of Britain’s heritage towns, Canterbury has retained its mediaeval character despite the youthful population from the multinational universities. The city is a cultural and entertainment destination with historical sites and numerous cafes.

Canterbury’s Origin and History

The area occupied by Canterbury city has been around since the pre-Roman times. After the invasion of Claudius, the Roman town of Durovernum Cantiacorum was built on the site. The Roman town was connected to Dover and London by Casingc Street. The Romans built the town wall in 200 CE and rebuilt it during the middle ages. Parts of the wall stand to date, and of the six mediaeval entrances, only Westgate stands.

In the 6th century, Canterbury was the capital of the Kingdom of Kent, Aethelberht I, who influenced the mission of St Augustine, founded abbeys of St Peter and Paul. After his death, the abbey was renamed St Augustine Abbey, while the Christ Church was renamed Canterbury Cathedral. Despite the damage caused by Danish raids, the town grew in importance.

The municipal government of Canterbury dates back to the 14th century, and it was promoted to county status in 1461. In the 16th century Reformation, most monastic houses were dissolved, and the town languished. Fortunately, it was revived by an influx of Huguenot and Walloon refugees.

Despite the rebuilding throughout the 17th to 19th century, the town suffered in World War II. The cathedral wasn’t damaged since fires were lit on the grounds to give the illusion that the cathedral was in flames. While the shopping area, Longmarket, was destroyed, it has since been renovated.

Modern Canterbury is a regional service centre and market town. It has many educational institutions and historical sites that attract hundreds of thousands of travellers annually. The mediaeval structures and architecture make the sites attractive to visitors.

Notable Places to Visit in Canterbury

Canterbury Cathedral

The Canterbury Cathedral is England’s oldest and most significant Christian structure, reflecting various architectural styles from different centuries. Its popularity stems from the murder of Archbishop Thomas Becket. Travellers can stand in the exact spot of the crime in the Northwest Transept. Visitors can also stop by the choir, with a screen dating from 1411. The magnificent stone is decorated with crowned figures of the six monarchs and angels carrying shields. The crypt has decorative flourishes, and travellers can pick souvenirs on Burgate Street.

The area surrounding the cathedral, also known as the cathedral precincts, is worth exploring. The highlight of these precincts is the roofed Norman staircase and King’s School Hall, founded in 600 CE. Travellers can also visit Christ Church Gate and the Norman Water Tower, a healing garden used to grow herbs.

St Augustine’s Abbey

St Augustine’s Abbey is located outside the city walls and holds the remains of the abbey founded by St Augustine in 597. Travellers visit St Augustine’s Abbey to see rare Roman artefacts. A museum is constructed on-site, with informative displays, artefacts, exhibits and virtual-reality recreations related to the history of Canterbury. The premises also have a picnic area and gardens with views towards the cathedral.

The Beaney House of Art and Knowledge

Travellers interested in cultural pursuits should stop by The Beaney House of Art and Knowledge, often referred to as The Beaney. The facility has a museum, art gallery and library with a collection of engravings, paintings, Anglo-Saxon jewellery and European ceramics.

Since its refurbishment in 2012, it has become a cultural hub, with the Marlowe Theatre situated in the vicinity. The building is an important attraction designed in an attractive Tudor-revival style in the 19th century. Notable exhibits at The Beaney include artworks by European Old Masters like Van Dyck. The attraction is ideal for adults and children, with its educational programmes and kids’ workshops.

Westgate Towers Museum & Viewpoint

Westgate Towers is west of the old city’s boundary and housed in the mediaeval gatehouse. The towers were built in 1380 on the Old London Road as one of the seven structures constructed to defend key access points into the city. The building houses a museum exhibiting the history of Canterbury with its storied past. Travellers can visit the sites used to hang convicts’ bodies or collect tolls from pilgrims. Visitors can also see the original felon cells, dating from the 19th century. The building served as a police station, jail and military communications facility in World War II. The viewpoint stands 60 feet high, offering panoramic views of the historic city.

The New UK ETA for Canterbury

The United Kingdom’s government has plans to launch permission to travel permits as part of the efforts to improve border controls. The Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) will be similar to United States’ digital visa system. The UK ETA will determine whether a person is permitted to enter the UK. If implemented, the UK ETA will be the first digital system to monitor the number of persons entering or leaving Britain. The new ETA system will apply to travellers from European Union countries who usually don’t require a visa to visit the country. The permission to travel scheme is expected to be operational starting in 2023.

What Is the New UK ETA for Canterbury?

The UK government will introduce an ETA system at the start of 2023 that will be fully operational by 2025. The UK ETA system works by screening visitors before they arrive in the UK. Once the system rolls out, international travellers will require permission to enter or transit throughout the UK. Visitors will provide basic personal information to complete the ETA application form.

Even visa-free nationalities will require an ETA to traverse the UK. That means European travellers and visitors from the US or Canada will still retain the visa-free status but require an ETA to cross the border. However, an approved ETA is not a visa, and travellers from non-visa-exempt nations require a traditional visa to visit the UK.

According to the UK government announcement, ETA approval will grant visa-exempt travellers a single-entry travel authorisation valid for six months. During this period, visitors can visit any part of the country, including Canterbury. However, travellers visiting the UK for business or work activities still need to obtain work authorisation alongside the ETA approval.

How to Apply for the UK ETA

Applying for a UK ETA for Canterbury is straightforward and can be completed online by filling out the application form. The process takes a few minutes, and a traveller only requires a valid email address, biometric passport and basic personal details. Travellers also require a valid credit or debit card to pay the application fee. During the application, visitors must answer a few security questions before sending the application for review.

The border officials process applications within 48 to 72 hours, and travellers don’t need to visit the UK Embassy. After the rollout of the ETA system, visitors must provide ETA information to their carrier for confirmation before travel. Carriers must confirm whether visitors have the appropriate travel permission before bringing them to the UK.

What Are the Advantages of the UK ETA for Canterbury?

UK ETA is not a visa; it only works for visa-exempted travellers visiting the UK. Since it is a travel authorisation, visitors must apply for it before travelling. It will speed up the process at the borders. The authorisation scheme is intended to reduce queues at the border since travellers upload their information before getting to the border. Travellers undergo pre-screening, allowing them to be identified at the border without using an electronic passport or speaking to a Border Force officer.

According to UK authorities, the digital system minimises security risks and allows the immigration authorities to gather adequate information on travellers visiting the UK. The government can block the entry of individuals who pose a threat.

UK and Ireland’s citizens are exempted from the ETA due to the terms of the common travel area that the UK shares with Ireland. Refer to the UK ETA FAQ for more details.


History enthusiasts will enjoy a visit to Canterbury. Travellers can visit the mediaeval streets and experience the area’s rich history. The splendid cathedral, standing on a 72-metre-high tower surrounded by a precinct with green spaces, sees modern-day pilgrims. The well-kept gardens on the sides of the placid River Stour also provide a relaxing location for travellers to Canterbury.