General ETA FAQs
What is the government’s motivation behind launching the UK ETA system?
The UK government is hoping to improve security by enhancing their traveller logging and tracking activities with the UK ETA. The system will enable them to log visitors entries and exits at any seaport or airport. Other benefits include:
- Additional revenue stream for the UK government by charging travellers a fee for using the system.
- Ability to pre-screen travellers that are deemed a threat before they enter the UK.
- Ability to collect and retain information and travel behaviours of visitors entering the United Kingdom.
When will the UK ETA launch?
The UK Electronic Travel Authorisation (UK ETA) is a major initiative in the UK government’s Nationality and Borders Act 2022. The legislation will establish the travellers who currently enjoy visa-free access to the UK will need to obtain a travel authorisation to enter the country starting on 15 November 2023 for citizens of Qatar. On 22 February 2024, the UK ETA will be required for citizens of the following countries, where more will be added to the list at a later date.
- Saudi Arabia
- United Arab Emirates
How many travellers will use the UK ETA system?
It is expected that over 30 million travellers will use the UK ETA system annually. Travellers from the United States, France, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands have the highest number of visitors entering the UK.
Who is eligible to apply for a UK ETA?
Travellers from the following countries will need to apply for a UK ETA:
The list includes travellers with passports from the countries within the EU (excluding Ireland), the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and dozens of other countries.
Who does not need a UK ETA?
You will not need a UK ETA if any of the following apply to you:
- You hold a British or Irish Passport
- You are a legal resident in Ireland, a) who is not required to obtain a visa to enter the UK, and b) is entering the UK from Ireland, Guernsey, Jersey, or the Isle of Man.
- You hold a UK visa that is valid for working, studying or other purpose
How much will a UK ETA cost?
The cost of each ETA application will be £10. This fee will be required per traveller and is non-refundable. The fee will need to be paid each time a UK ETA application is submitted.
ETA application processing FAQs
How long will it take to process a UK ETA application?
The UK ETA application will typically take 72 hours to process and provide a decision. However, there are instances where some application will require further security screening and thus can take longer to reach a decision.
What happens if I am denied an ETA?
If UK ETA applicants are denied approval, they may be advised to apply for a UK visa to enter the country as an alternative travel authorisation. The following visas may be relevant to travellers who are denied a UK ETA:
- Standard Visitor Visa
- Temporary Work Visa
- Transit Visa
How will the ETA application process work?
Travellers will be required to complete an application form that will include personal and travel related questions. You will also be required to answer security related questions regarding your previous criminal and immigration history and potential drug usage history.
What information will I need to enter on a UK ETA application?
An applicant’s biographic, biometric and contract details will need to be disclosed. Applicants should also be prepared to answer a series of eligibility questions regarding their previous immigration, criminal, immunisation and potentially drug history.
How will I receive an approved UK ETA?
ETA approved travellers will receive their authorisations via email. An approved UK ETA will be linked to the passport of the traveller.
How long will an approved ETA last?
An approved UK ETA will be valid for a period of two years from the date of issuance, or until the date of passport expiry. Whichever date comes first will be deemed the expiry of the ETA. Upon expiry, a new ETA will be required for travel.
How long can I stay in the UK on an approved ETA?
Travellers can stay in the United Kingdom for up to six months per visit on an approved ETA.
Will the UK ETA affect the rights of travellers using the Airside transit or Landside transit?
No, it is foreseen that existing Airside and Landside transit rules will be unaffected by the UK ETA.
Will I be able to switch to a UK visa after arriving to the UK on an ETA?
No, it is expected that travellers will need to apply for and obtain an approved UK visa prior to entering the UK for stays of over six months.
ETA data privacy FAQs
Will UK ETA applicant data be shared with carriers?
Existing Advance Passenger Information (API) systems will be used to send carriers (land, sea and air), information on if travellers are permitted to enter the UK or not. Carriers will still need to check if traveller’s have valid and eligible identification documents, such as a passport, to enter the United Kingdom. However, the UK government will send messages to carriers regarding the admissibility of travellers prior to them being allowed to board a ship, plane, or other vehicle to the United Kingdom.
How will my data be processed by the UK ETA system?