Travellers visiting London should spend some time in Westminster. Despite being close to Buckingham Palace, this London neighbourhood isn’t just a government area. It is filled with landmarks, essential sights and attractions for visitors to tick off their sightseeing bucket lists. Westminster Borough is in central London, along the banks of the River Thames. The new UK ETA for Westminster allows travellers from across the globe to visit the city and its many attractions, including the Mediaeval Westminster Abbey, the House of Parliament and Trafalgar Square’s monument.
The Origin and History of Westminster
The story of Westminster began a thousand years ago with a group of Anglo-Saxons living on Downing Street. The group built a small church west of Lundenwic, giving the city its name, Westminster. The small town was built on Thorney Island, an ancient landmark near the Thames and Tyburn rivers, upstream of mediaeval London. Edward the Confessor also built a royal palace in the countryside, just outside the walls of London. Westminster Abbey then became a significant church for crowning the English Monarch. However, Westminster Abbey was rebuilt in 1245 by Henry III. Today, it is the resting place of the English monarchs.
Westminster was separated from London in the Middle Ages, with large fields separating the two cities. It was a vast countryside connected to London by Strand Road, running along the banks of the River Thames. In the 17th century, the region developed a grand reputation when the streets were laid out, and the marshlands were drained or reinvented into parks. Landmarks started to spring up in the 18th century, with Buckingham Palace built in 1703. However, it was not lived in until Queen Victoria’s reign in 1837. In 1732, the first British Prime Minister was given 10 Downing Street as their official residence, sparking a trend that is still followed. The Horse Guards Parade buildings were built in 1755, creating another notable landmark in the area.
Currently, Westminster is part of London and has become synonymous with politics. The House of Parliament has made it the home of politicians. Significant landmarks, like Horse Guard’s Parade and Buckingham Palace, also make it a relevant city that guards the English monarch’s history.
Points of Interest in Westminster
With its historical significance, Westminster Abbey is a popular attraction for travellers visiting London. Westminster Abbey provides an insight into the history of the English monarch. Inside the Abbey, visitors can see the coronation chair commissioned by King Edward I in 1296. Since 1308, it has been the official coronation chair for British monarchs. In East Cloister, visitors can explore the octagonal room called the Chapter House, which dates back to the 1250s. Monks used to gather in the room to plan their work activities. It is a lavishly decorated room with stained glass, wall paintings and sculptures. The room has the oldest door in Britain, from the 1050s. Poet’s Corner is in the South Transept of Westminster Abbey. It has graves and dedications to great contributors to English literature. Outside the Abbey is Parliament Square, with statues of great noble figures, including Winston Churchill and Abraham Lincoln.
Horse Guards Parade
The Horse Guard Parade at St James’s Park is a ceremonial parade ground for various royal events. It’s a building with a clock tower over an archway, with the King’s Life Guard mounted on immaculately groomed horses. The breastplates are shining in the sun. Horse Guards is an entrance to Buckingham Palace and St James’s Park, dating back to the 18th century. King Charles II designed it in 1660. Visitors can visit the Horse Guards Parade daily around 11:00 am to watch the change of Life Guard.
House of Parliament
The House of Parliament functions as the heart of British power. It is set in the Palace of Westminster on the banks of the River Thames. Victorian Neo-Gothic architecture is worth exploring, with over 1,000 rooms housing the House of Lords and House of Commons. Visitors can take a guided tour through the building or watch a debate in the House of Commons or House of Lords.
Churchill War Rooms
Churchill War Rooms are tucked underneath a complex of buildings in Whitehall. History fans can learn the history of London during World War II. The Churchill War Rooms are within the Imperial War Museum, but they were used between 1939 and 1945. They served as a wartime bunker for Churchill during the war and an intelligence area for providing summaries for King George VI. The museum dedicates an entire area to Winston Churchill and the role he played during World War II. The museum is an interactive gallery.
The UK ETA for Westminster
The United Kingdom’s government is set to launch the Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) in 2024 for travellers planning to visit the UK. This travel programme will register the number of visitors entering or leaving the country. The new UK ETA for Westminster aims to tighten border control measures. Electronic Travel Authorisation will act as a permit for people from non-visa countries planning to visit the UK for a short time. The digital system works similarly to USA’s ETSA system and will prevent people from abusing the country’s hospitality.
With some exceptions, anyone wishing to travel to the UK will require the ETA. British and Irish Citizens are exempt. The ETA scheme is for people who don’t need a visa to transit through or visit the UK for short stays. Visitors should not have an immigration status before travelling. The increased control of the borders will block threats from entering the UK. It also gives travellers and carriers assurance about their ability to travel to the UK before departing.
The Nationality and Borders Bill is set to lay the groundwork for enforcing the ETA system. Aside from developing rules to administer the ETA scheme, the bill will provide the requirements for making an ETA application and define the grounds for cancellation.
The UK ETA for Westminster Requirements
Travellers from non-visa countries will require the UK ETA before visiting the United Kingdom. During its enforcement in 2024, 92 EU countries and those with visa arrangements with the UK will need the ETA to enter the country. British passport holders and British nationals, including overseas territory citizens, protected persons and overseas nations, are also exempt from ETA.
Before a visitor can apply for the UK ETA, they need a valid electronic passport from an eligible country. The passport should have the biometric details of the traveller. Visitors from non-eligible countries will require a visa. Travellers applying for ETA should also intend to visit the United Kingdom for a short stay of up to six months.
The intent of the visit should match the ETA requirements. Travellers visiting for pleasure or business can apply for the ETA. However, unless they acquire a relevant visa and work permit, visitors cannot work or run a business in the UK.
Travellers wishing to get a travel permit for the UK should not have a previous criminal record, deeming them a threat to the country. Visitors with a criminal history that could threaten people’s security will be denied permission. Having prior immigration violations could also result in denial of entry.
The UK ETA for Westminster Application Process
When the ETA is in effect, travellers should apply for a UK ETA before travelling to Westminster in order to avoid being denied entry at the UK border. The UK ETA application can be completed online, eliminating the need to visit an embassy or consulate. Visitors must provide personal information, including full name, date of birth and citizenship. Registrants must also submit travel details, including dates and the purpose of travel. Visitors should provide an email address, a valid passport and a credit or debit card to pay for the UK ETA application fee online.
An ETA travel permit takes ten to fifteen minutes to apply and 72 hours to process. Travellers will receive feedback regarding approval or denial by email within 72 hours. Delays in the processing of the permit could occur as a result of providing wrong information. For additional details, travellers can refer to the UK ETA FAQ page.
Travelling in the UK With the New ETA
Visitors can traverse the country with the UK ETA for Westminster and stay for 180 days. During the stay, a traveller can explore the landmarks in the city, including Westminster Palace, Westminster Abbey and the House of Parliament.