UK ETA for Bradford and how it will affect travellers

Once an industrial and textile powerhouse, Bradford City is packed with 19th-century heritage sites. Visitors will recognise its historic buildings and cobblestone streets from the popular period shows Downtown Abbey and Peaky Blinders. While this history is apparent in its city centre and old milling quarters, Bradford also has a vibrant, modern edge.

Several modern museums and multicultural eateries define contemporary Bradford. This is all surrounded by a varied Pennine landscape of deep valleys and moors. Here’s what Bradford offers travellers and what its visitors need to know about the UK ETA system.

Bradford History and Landmarks

Bradford’s history dates back to Saxon times when its name was derived from the Old English ‘Broad Ford’.[1] Bradford remained a small settlement from the Middle Ages until the 18th century, with a population spinning wool and tending farmland. Few old buildings remain from this time, bar the medieval Bradford Cathedral and Bolling Hall. Bradford’s fate and fortunes changed with the launch of the now-closed Bradford Canal in 1774. The town first became the country’s leading wool producer by 1840 and then the world’s just 10 years later.[2]

Industrial Heritage

Bradford’s importance was accelerated by the Industrial Revolution, which led to the growth of textile mills. Bradford itself continued to grow throughout the Victorian period, becoming a hub for migrant workers from the rest of the UK, Ireland and Europe. Many remnants of this period can be found throughout the city, from the well-preserved Little Germany district founded by Jewish German migrants to Bradford City Hall and the Wool Exchange built in the late 19th century.

Into the Modern Era

The city’s booming workforce proved vital in establishing the Labour Party, while the city’s working history became inextricably linked to immigration. In the 1950s, South Asian migrants became the newest members of this community as they arrived to work in the declining textile industry. The new population helped keep many mills afloat through the 1960s.[3] While Bradford’s milling might have all but faded by the late 1980s as exports diminished, the city remained a diverse and multicultural centre. Bradford’s new wave of historic attractions includes important curry houses that survived and thrived through the 1950s until today. The oldest of these are Karachi and Kashmir.

Cultural Attractions and Things to Do

Modern-day Bradford boasts a strong and eclectic range of attractions to visit. Visitors can trace the city’s industrial heritage with a guided walk or get a comprehensive account of the booming Victorian period at the Bradford Industrial Museum.


Saltaire provides a snapshot of Bradford’s industrial legacy. It was built by Titus Salt as a model worker’s village in 1851 and has since become a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A network of purpose-built, philanthropic houses emanates from the imposing Salts Mill. Today, Saltaire is both a living museum and a thriving residential area. The mill has been converted into a cultural centre, home to the 1853 art gallery with works by Bradford-born artist David Hockney.

National Science and Media Museum

The National Science and Media Museum is Bradford’s most-visited attraction and is of national importance. The museum provides a detailed history of the country’s film, TV and photographic heritage. It boasts a wide range of original camera artefacts alongside hands-on displays that teach the science of image, sound and technology. The museum is also home to a large IMAX cinema with unique exhibitions alongside a permanent collection.

Cartwright Hall

Bradford’s iconic civic art gallery is situated in one of the city’s oldest parks, Lister Park. The park was named after Samuel Cunliffe Lister, a noted industrialist who helped develop Bradford’s wool industry in the 1830s. David Hockney is well represented in a gallery at Cartwright Hall. Culturally diverse exhibitions also run alongside a permanent Victorian-era collection.

Centenary Square

Bradford’s central public park is a rejuvenated area with mirror pools, fountains, light projectors and picnic spots. Monuments, museums and event spaces, like the Bradford Police Museum and Alhambra Theatre, surround it. The independent Impressions Gallery, an important centre for photography, overlooks the square.

The New UK ETA for Bradford

The United Kingdom announced the launch of a new Electronic Travel Authentication system (ETA) that affects most foreign visitors to its isles. The system is part of a new Nationality and Borders Bill.[4] All non-visa nationals and foreign visitors will now require a permit to visit the country for business, education, recreation or medical treatment.

Non-visa nationals include all citizens from outside the UK that didn’t previously require a visa for short-term travel within the UK. These include most Commonwealth countries, such as Australia, New Zealand and Canada, many European countries, and other nations with agreements.

What Are the Benefits of the New ETA System?

The ETA system will streamline the security check and visa process for travellers. Instead of compiling documents and forms for submission at a British consulate office or embassy, travellers will conduct the process online. The results are expected to be delivered to the provided inbox within 72 hours.[5]

For the UK government, the ETA system is a way to screen all legal visitors to the country. Previous visa-free travel rules meant that border control had less information at the point of entry.

What Documents are Required to Apply for a UK ETA?

Applicants must provide essential information that includes their full name, date of birth, country of birth and travel details. To complete the form, applicants must also provide a valid biometric passport from an eligible nation, a contact email address and debit/credit card details to cover the fee.

What is the ETA Application Process?

ETA applications are completed online. Visitors are to apply in the days preceding travel. This is provided via email and can be printed or kept electronically for verification.

How Long Will an ETA Typically be Valid?

An ETA is expected to be valid for up to 6 months at a time.[6] An ETA is not used in lieu of a visa, so those planning to stay longer must submit a visa application. An ETA also does not guarantee entry to the UK, as border officials may still refuse entry for various reasons.

When Will the ETA Scheme Be Rolled Out?

The UK ETA is in the trial phase and will be rolled out from 2023 with full implementation by 2024.[7]

Who Is Exempt and Who Requires an ETA?

The upcoming rollout of ETAs applies to all non-visa nationals visiting the UK for any purpose. That includes all nations that do not require a visa to travel. Citizens from countries that require a visa for travel will be exempt from the online ETA process as this will already be completed within their visa application. Other exemptions included resident permit holders in the UK and Republic of Ireland passport holders.

Is an ETA required to Travel to Bradford?

If any non-visa national intends to visit Bradford or any British city, they will be required to apply for an ETA online.

Bradford is a historic city with a rich industrial heritage that benefits from its location at the heart of West Yorkshire. Surrounded by the Pennines, Brönte Country and Ilkley Moor, the city is a popular base for exploring the county’s natural landscapes. A stay in the city offers vibrant attractions that span the history of Britain, from the Victorian period to contemporary national institutions. Once launched, an ETA will be mandatory for non-visa travellers to the UK. It is essential for those planning to stay in Bradford to prepare and apply for their ETA before making the journey.