Leicester is a city in the East Midlands, a historic region with an industrial and farming heritage. It’s one of England’s oldest cities and was developed during the Roman occupation, from around 47 AD. Today, it’s a multi-cultural university town with several important museums.
Leicester made the headlines in 2012 when the remains of Richard III were discovered beneath a car park. This incident has influenced a number of contemporary attractions, including medieval halls and museums showcasing a history of the event.
Those travelling to Leicester should prepare for the new ETA requirements that will affect travel into the United Kingdom. Read on to discover more about the city’s history, culture and traditions, along with a guide to the new UK ETA for Leicester.
Leicester – A History
From the Romans to Medieval Leicester
Leicester was one of the earliest Roman cities in Britain and was expanded from sites of the previous Iron Age Settlement. Known as Ratae and located on an important Roman road, the Fosse Way, there are historical trails and artefacts across the city that preserve this heritage. Remains of Roman baths at the Jewry Wall and its museum are the most thorough. There’s also St Nicholas’ Church, which was built from repurposed Roman materials. While the city thrived as a Roman centre, less is known of the period following Roman withdrawal when it went through Saxon, Viking and Norman influence.
Medieval Leicester underwent a transformation under Simon de Montfort and the historic Earls of Leicester in the 13th and 14th centuries. Many civic buildings, churches and halls were erected, including the well-preserved Leicester Guildhall and St Mary de Castro Church. A decisive confrontation in the War of the Roses and the Battle of Bosworth Field took place west of Leicester in 1530 to the city’s strategic role as a Parliamentarian centre during the English Civil War. A significant turning point in the city’s prosperity arrived with the creation of the Grand Union Canal in 1810, a cross-country waterway that connected Leicester with both Birmingham and London.
With the Midland Railway and new means of industrialisation, Leicester’s hosiery, textile and shoemaking industries boomed. This period is encapsulated with a public statue of The Leicester Seamstress by James Walter Butler on Hotel Street. Noted residents during this time included travel agent Thomas Cook and Joseph Merrick, who was widely known as the Elephant Man.
Leicester’s growth persisted throughout the Victorian era until the end of the Second World War when a steady decline in manufacturing affected employment. Leicester’s industrial heritage can be visited at the Abbey Pumping Station Museum and National Gas Museum Trust. The city later became a major destination for Asian communities expelled from Uganda in 1972. This period of migration, among other later events, has given the city a strong multi-cultural base and a reputation for Indian restaurants and cultural events, particularly along the Golden Mile.
Alongside a thriving shopping, dining and drinking scene, Leicester has a number of awarded museums, parks and landmarks to visit.
King Richard III: Dynasty, Death & Discovery
When King Richard III was unexpectedly exhumed from a small car park in 2012, it set off a course of re-evaluation of this king and his demise. This modern museum outlines the story of the king, his public reputation and the archaeological process of discovery itself.
Leicester Cathedral is a stop on the King Richard III trail, as his body was re-buried here in 2015. The cathedral itself is a well-preserved Gothic church that was the centre of medieval Leicester. First built in 1086, key features include the Vaughan Porch, the stained glass East Window and King Richard III’s tomb.
National Space Centre
The National Space Centre is located along the River Soar, 1.5 miles from the city centre. The museum offers family-friendly exhibits on the history of space exploration, with spacecraft displays, a planetarium and flight simulators. As the centre of operations for Beagle 2, it also provides insight into the ill-fated expedition.
The Guildhall Museum
The Guildhall is Leicester’s oldest building that’s still in use. Its earliest sections were built in 1390, after which Shakespeare and Oliver Cromwell graced the hall. Its interiors detail Leicester’s medieval history and host atmospheric plays as a working theatre.
Introducing the New UK ETA for Leicester
In outlining plans to generate a more robust border security process that screens entry into the country, the United Kingdom has introduced a new Electronic Travel Authentication (ETA) system. Outlined in the Nationality and Borders Act 2002, the UK ETA for Leicester will require foreign visitors to apply for permission to travel into the country before they arrive.
This new system greatly impacts non-visa foreign nationals that weren’t previously required to apply for travel. This includes most Commonwealth nationals, alongside Europeans and other nations with visa-free travel agreements, like Japan. The system has been developed akin to the USA’s Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) and will be mirrored in the EU’s European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS).
Why Has the ETA System Been Launched?
The ETA system has been launched to better track arrivals in the United Kingdom. Under previous rules, those travelling into the UK from visa-free countries were not thoroughly screened before or during travel. With this new system, border control will check the security information on all incoming visitors. This allows issues like criminal records and immigration violations to be flagged before travel.
For those travelling to the UK, the ETA has been launched to reassure visitors that they are entering the country legally. The whole process will be streamlined online, unlike a standard visa application.
What Are the Requirements for a UK ETA Application?
An ETA application will consist of essential information about the person(s) travelling, including full name, date of birth, country of birth and contact information. Applicants must also hold a valid biometric passport and provide a payment card to cover the application fee.
Applicants will be screened for criminal history and asked about their health and immigration history. Upon completion, the applicant will receive their ETA via email.
What Is the ETA Application Process?
An ETA should be completed online in the days before travel. ETA’s are expected to be processed within 72 hours, so travellers should allow enough time for this process before they depart. Information on ETA eligibility will be held by carriers, as they can only allow passengers to board if they hold a valid UK ETA. Upon arrival in the UK, passengers access the country via eGates with their ETA information to reduce time spent at the border while maintaining high security.
How Long Will an ETA Typically Be Valid For?
The details haven’t been fully revealed, but an ETA is expected to be valid for up to 6 months. This coincides with the current UK Electronic Visa Waiver (EVW) scheme.
When Will the UK ETA for Leicester Be Rolled Out?
The new UK ETA is currently in the trial phase and will roll out from January 2023. Full implementation is expected by the beginning of 2024.
Who Will Require an ETA, and Who is Exempt?
Most non-visa nationals that have previously required permission to travel will now require an ETA. For those travelling from visa-required countries, an ETA will not be necessary, as it is included in the standard visa process. There are further exemptions, including resident permit holders in the UK and Republic of Ireland passport holders. Check detailed ETA eligibility here.
Is an ETA required to Travel to Leicester?
Yes. Most foreign nationals visiting Leicester must apply for an ETA when the system rolls out.
Check the ETA FAQ for more details.
Leicester is an important English city that has held a strategic position at the centre of the country for centuries. Its long-reaching history dates back to the age of the Celts and Romans, with plentiful ruins and heritage museums to discover. This contrasts with Leicester’s modern multi-cultural image, with its global cuisines and trendy bars. An ETA will be required for visitors to Leicester in 2024, making preparation essential for visitors to this famed resting place of Richard III.