What a UK ETA for Chester Means for Travellers

The city of Chester, with its many modern attractions and historical sites, has plenty to offer anyone taking a trip to the United Kingdom. However, visitors should be aware of upcoming UK border control policy changes. The government plans to introduce a scheme that will require foreign nationals visiting the UK to obtain an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) permit, which remains valid for a period of up to six months or 180 days.

With this article, we shall explain everything that a prospective traveller needs to know before arranging a trip to the UK to see Chester. We will be covering a range of topics, from popular sites in the city to full information on obtaining a UK ETA for Chester.

The History of Chester

The history of Chester can be traced back to Roman Britain. Here is a short overview of the key periods in the city’s history.

The Roman Era

Chester was founded by the Romans as a military headquarters. The Romans gave it the name Castra Devana or Fortress Diva, after the adjacent River Dee. And for a period, it was a significant population centre in Roman Britain. Like many other Roman cities, it became deserted around the time of the early Middle Ages. Visitors can still see traces of the early Roman incarnation, including wall foundations. Even the name Chester is an echo of its original Roman moniker, Castra Devana. In addition, the street plan of the city’s centre still follows the original Roman layout.

The Middle Ages

Chester’s proximity to a major river, which had been beneficial in Roman times when the town was a harbour area, became a liability in the Middle Ages as it provided a means for Viking raiders to sail into the town. The city saw substantial changes arrive during the Norman Conquest of 1066. In the years that followed, William the Conquerer made Chester into an Earldom, with Gerbod the Fleming becoming the first Earl of Chester. William also founded Chester Castle in 1070, and despite having been heavily remodelled since then, the castle still retains some medieval parts.

Early Modern Period

Although a significant port city in the Middle Ages, Chester later lost this status as a result of the River Dee becoming blocked with silt and the port vanishing by the start of the Georgian period. It was not until the Industrial Revolution that the city regained its value as a centre of commerce. Despite this, the city played some noteworthy historical roles in the Early Modern period, with Chester Castle serving as the headquarters of John, Lord Byron during the Civil War. The city did not fare well in this conflict, with a two-year siege leading to starvation so severe that Chester was finally forced to surrender.

Places to Visit in Chester

Once a visitor has arranged a UK ETA for Chester, the next step will be deciding which areas of the city to visit. Here is a partial list of some of the attractions that Chester holds for tourists:

Chester Cathedral


Chester Cathedral is a historic building dating back from 1092 when it was founded as a Benedictine Abbey. Through the latter half of the Middle Ages, it was rebuilt in full Gothic style. Visitors to the cathedral can see the exhibitions and performances that are held there throughout the year.

Roman Gardens


The Roman Gardens were built in 1949 to showcase columns and other fragments of building work from Chester’s Roman period, alongside reconstructions intended to give visitors an idea of what the city might have looked like in its early period as a Roman town.

Chester Rows


The Rows are an unusual set of buildings existing on a level above the streets below and accessible by steps. Today, the Rows are used as a shopping area, but the buildings themselves are much older. Some date back to the thirteenth century, while others are Victorian constructions imitating earlier models.

The New UK ETA for Chester

The new ETA requirements are part of the government’s reworking of its border and immigration system and will be introduced through the Nationality and Borders Bill. The ETA scheme requires all visitors from outside the UK, except for British, permanent residents or Irish citizens, to obtain electronic permission before doing so. An ETA will be required for visits of up to six months, meaning that even a short trip to Chester from abroad will require such permissions. The ETA scheme is scheduled to be in place by the end of 2024.

ETA Requirements

If a traveller intends to enter the UK with an ETA, then they will need to meet a set of eligibility requirements. One, they must hold a valid electronic passport from an eligible country — specifically, a country where a visa is a requirement for travel to the UK. Second, they must intend to stay in the UK for up to six months for the purposes of tourism, transit or business. Next, the traveller must have no previous immigration violations or a criminal history that is deemed by the authorities to constitute a threat to residents of the UK. If all of these requirements are met, then the traveller needs only to complete the online application form, pay the application fee and obtain their ETA approval.

UK ETA Timeline

The UK ETA scheme is an ongoing project. A private beta version of the ETA is expected to be released in the first quarter of 2023. A second version is expected to be operational before the fourth quarter of 2023. Depending on how successful these phases turn out to be, a full roll-out of the scheme is lined up for the period from late 2023 to early 2024. Additional details can be found in the UK ETA FAQs.

UK ETA Application Process

When the scheme goes live, eligible applicants will be required to fill in an ETA application form. This will include questions that are both personal and related to travel, such as where they will be staying and the contact details of their hotel or host. The applicant will also need to answer questions related to criminal history. The information provided will then be shared with carriers. In addition to this, travellers will still need to provide valid documents of identification (such as passports) to carriers before they can enter and visit the UK for short-term business or tourism.


The introduction of the ETA scheme to the UK will impact all forms of travel to the country, and the process of obtaining a UK ETA for Chester will be just one of many ways in which the changes manifest. But while the permissions and eligibility requirements involved in travelling will be different, the reasons for visiting Chester and seeing its many attractions will remain the same.