General ETA FAQs
What is the ETA for the UK?
The United Kingdom Electronic Travel Authorization (UK ETA) is a new digital travel permit system that allows the UK government more control and oversight over individuals entering the country, making it easier to identify potential security risks. The ETA is part of a broader government initiative to digitalize the borders as it replaces the UK’s system of visa waivers.
The ETA is not a type of visa. It is an electronic document for foreigners who do not need a visa to enter the UK for short-term stays, such as for tourism, visiting family and friends, business, and short-course study. Visa-exempt nationals transiting in the UK must also get an ETA regardless if they are going through UK border control.
Why is the government launching the UK Electronic Travel Authorisation system?
The ETA is a major initiative in the UK government’s Nationality and Borders Act 2022. The legislation establishes that individuals who currently enjoy visa-free access to the UK must obtain a travel authorization before being allowed to come to the country. Below are the advantages of having the system in place:
- To accurately log and track travelers who enter and exit England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland at any seaport or airport
- To pre-screen travelers deemed a threat to national security before they arrive in the UK
- To collect and retain information and travel behaviors of UK visitors
- To provide an additional revenue stream for the government by charging travelers an application fee
When will the UK ETA launch?
The ETA system is now operational for citizens of Qatar. They must apply for an ETA for travels to the UK on or after 15 November 2023.
Starting 1 February 2024, nationals of Jordan, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) can apply for a UK ETA. The ETA will be mandatory for their travels to the UK on and after 22 February 2024.
When will EU nationals be required to apply via the ETA scheme?
The UK Home Office will soon announce which nationalities, including EU citizens, will benefit next from the ETA scheme. There will be enough time to ensure all those who require an ETA are made aware of the changes well in advance.
When should we expect the full rollout of the ETA?
The ETA scheme will continue to be implemented gradually, on a nationality basis, in 2024. The Home Office will provide an update on which nationality will next be able to apply for an ETA and when it will be enforced.
The British government expects that all travelers who do not need a visa for short visits to the UK will be able to apply and receive their UK ETA by the end of 2024.
How many travelers will use the UK ETA system?
The British government expects over 30 million travelers to use the UK ETA system annually. Visitors from the United States, France, Germany, Spain, and the Netherlands have the highest number of individuals entering the UK.
Who will need to apply for a UK ETA?
The UK ETA is for travelers who do not need a visa for short-stays, or less than six months, for purposes such as tourism, visiting family and friends, business, study, or transit.
Which passport holders can travel to the UK without a visa?
Visa-exempt foreigners, or travelers who do not need a visa to visit the UK, are citizens of countries within the EU (excluding Ireland), the United States (US), Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and others. Nationals from the following countries will need to apply for a UK ETA:
Who does not need to apply for a UK ETA?
An individual does not need an ETA if any of the following apply:
- You are a British citizen or national and hold a British passport or British Overseas Territory citizen passport.
- You are an Irish citizen and have an Irish Passport.
- You are a legal resident in Ireland, not required to get a visa to enter the UK, and entering the UK from Ireland, Guernsey, Jersey, or the Isle of Man. You must satisfy all three conditions to be exempt from needing an ETA.
- You have an immigration status for the UK.
- You hold a UK visa valid for visiting, working, studying, or other purposes.
Do infants, children, or teens need an ETA?
Yes. All travelers who do not require a visa to visit the UK must have a separate and approved ETA to enter the country, regardless of age.
Individuals who hold EU pre-settled or settlement status will not need an ETA to enter the UK. Is this correct?
Yes. Travelers with a valid UK immigration status, including those with settled or pre-settled status under the European Union Settlement Scheme (EUSS), will not be required to present an ETA when traveling to the UK.
Which locations in the UK require an ETA for visiting?
The ETA is valid for travel to the UK. After arriving at any entry point and going through UK border control, the holder can move freely between its constituent countries: England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
However, the UK ETA does not grant the traveler entry to Ireland, a separate and independent country. It is also not valid in any other European country.
Will I need a new ETA every time I visit the UK?
No. An ETA is valid for two years from the date of issue or until the passport it is linked to expires, whichever comes first. Travelers must apply for a new ETA if their passport expires before two years.
During the two-year validity period of your ETA, you can enter the UK multiple times so long as you visit for less than six months at a time.
Will I be refused entry into the UK without an approved ETA?
Without the required ETA, you cannot board your carrier (i.e., airplane, ship, or train) and travel to the UK. Individuals traveling to the UK but are still waiting for a decision on their ETA application will also be turned away.
The UK government uses the Advance Passenger Information (API) to check and notify carriers of an individual’s travel permits. Carriers can verify if an individual has the appropriate permission to travel documents before bringing them to the UK.
Airlines, maritime companies, and railway operators can only allow boarding to travelers with an ETA, or they may be liable for a penalty charge. Similarly, a traveler who knowingly travels to the UK without a required ETA may face criminal charges.
Can I study in the UK if I have a UK ETA?
Yes. Visa-exempt nationals with an ETA can attend short course study programs for 180 days or six months. For more extended study programs, you must obtain a Student visa.
Can I work in the UK if I have a UK ETA?
No. You must apply for a work visa to work in any of the UK’s four constituent countries. However, you can use your ETA to attend business conferences or meetings and do other permitted activities under the Business Visit visa.
Do I also need an ETA if I have a UK visa?
No. You do not need an ETA if you already hold a UK visa or immigration status.
Is the UK ETA similar to a visa or residence permit?
No. A UK visa allows foreigners to enter and stay in the country for transit, tourism, studying, working, and other purposes within a specified validity period, usually six months or longer. A UK resident permit lets citizens of other countries live and work in the UK indefinitely.
An ETA allows individuals to travel to the UK. It does permit individuals to enter the country. Individuals with an ETA will still be subject to immigration and identity checks at the border. They will still need to go through an electronic passport gate (eGate), if available, or see a Border Force officer.
What’s the difference between ETA and a UK visitor visa?
An ETA only grants permission to travel to the UK. It does not give the holder the right to enter the country. It does not guarantee entry to England, Wales, Scotland, or Northern Ireland.
Travelers with an ETA still need to seek permission to enter the UK at the border. This is done by going through an electronic passport gate (eGate), if available, or seeing a UK Border Force officer.
An ETA is required for non-visa nationals who do not hold a visa or have any other UK immigration status in the UK, including transit passengers.
On the other hand, a UK Standard Visitor visa allows individuals to enter and remain in the UK for six months or less for tourism, visiting family and friends, short-term studies, permitted business activities, and transit.
Is the UK ETA the same as an Electronic Visa Waiver (EVW)?
The UK ETA is a new digital travel permit system that caters to all travelers who do not need a visa to travel to the UK. It will replace the Electronic Visa Waiver (EVW) that citizens of certain Arab countries must obtain before traveling to the UK. An ETA is cheaper than an EVW.
Nationals of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia require an EVW for travels to the UK before 22 February 2024.
Starting 1 February 2024, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia citizens can apply for an ETA for travels on and after 22 February 2024.
How long is the ETA valid for?
An approved UK ETA will be valid for two years from the date of issue or until the date of passport expiry, whichever comes first. If the passport your UK ETA is linked to expires before two years, you must re-apply for a new ETA.
What is the difference between ETA and ETIAS?
The UK ETA is separate from the EU ETIAS.
The ETA is the UK’s new digital travel permit system for visa-exempt nationals visiting the country for less than six months for tourism, visiting family and friends, business, study, or transit.
The European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) is an electronic document similar to the UK ETA. By mid-2025, foreign nationals who don’t require a visa to enter the Schengen area must obtain an ETIAS. This includes UK citizens.
ETA application processing FAQs
How do I apply for ETIAS?
You can only apply for a UK ETA online. There are no alternative paper-based methods. Applicants do not need to appear in person at visa offices.
Can I apply for a UK ETA for someone else?
Yes. You can apply for an ETA for someone else. Parents or guardians can apply for the digital travel permit on behalf of their children. A friend or a third party can also apply for a UK ETA on behalf of someone else.
How does the ETA application process work?
The process is entirely digital. Travelers must complete the application form, answer security-related questions, and pay for the application online. They will receive a confirmation email that their application has been submitted.
The system will then cross-verify the details submitted in the ETA application form against the UK and international security and immigration databases to determine if the individual is eligible for an ETA and travel to the country.
It typically takes 72 hours or three days to process an application and receive a decision, whether an approved or denied ETA. Many may receive their approved ETA within minutes after submitting their application. Still, some cases may take longer than 72 hours to receive a decision.
What are the requirements to apply for a UK ETA?
To apply for a UK ETA, a traveler needs a valid, biometric national passport from an eligible visa-exempt country, a recent high-quality digital passport photo, an active email address, and an electronic payment method, such as a credit or debit card.
What information will I need to provide on a UK ETA application?
You need to provide personal and work details, home address, email address, contact details, and online payment information. You must also answer truthfully security-related questions regarding previous criminal and immigration history and any association with illegal groups.
The ETA application does not ask for an individual’s travel details or proof of financial capacity to support oneself during the visit to the UK. However, travelers must be prepared to answer questions or show proof of these when going through border control.
When should I apply for the ETA?
Travelers are advised to apply for an ETA before purchasing any tickets or booking accommodations in the UK. An ETA application typically takes three days to process and provide a decision. While many applications take minutes to process, some may take longer.
Can I apply for the ETA now but travel in a month or two?
Travelers should apply for an ETA before booking travel. The Home Office will not restrict how far in advance travelers can apply for an ETA. Travelers can apply for an ETA whenever they wish, so long as they do it at least three days before their travel date.
The ETA will be valid for two years or as long as the passport it is linked to remains valid.
Can I apply for a UK ETA if my travel plans aren’t confirmed?
Yes. You can apply for a UK ETA even when your travel plans are not confirmed. However, you must ensure that the passport used in the ETA application is still valid for the duration of travel to the UK for the ETA to remain valid.
If I apply for an ETA today and it is only enforced from June 2024, does the two-year validity start from when I received it or when it is implemented?
The ETA validity starts from the date it is granted or the date you receive your approved ETA.
What will happen to my ETA if my passport has less than two years left before expiry?
Your UK ETA will expire on the same date your passport expires.
A UK ETA is valid for two years from the date of issue or until the passport it is linked to expires, whichever comes first. You must apply for a new ETA if your passport expires before the ETA’s two-year validity period.
How long does it take to apply for a UK ETA?
Completing the online application form will only take a few minutes. After paying for your application online and submitting it, you will get confirmation via the email address you provided.
How long does it take to process a UK ETA application?
Processing a UK ETA application typically takes three days to process and provide a decision, with many applicants receiving a decision within minutes. Some applications may take more than three days to receive a decision.
Does the ETA application have a ‘save’ function?
No. The online UK ETA application website does not save any previously entered or submitted data during a canceled or expired session.
Once you click the link, complete your application as soon as possible. Your session will expire if you stay inactive on the website for 20 minutes, and you will need to restart the process and fill in the required information again.
Is there a way to fast-track an ETA approval in emergency circumstances?
The majority of ETA applications will be processed rapidly. This means travelers should receive their ETA quickly, even in the case of emergencies.
Can I use one application form for more than one person?
No. Each UK ETA application is for a single individual, as an approved travel permit is linked to an individual’s passport. Any other eligible individuals who plan to travel to the UK must complete an application form, regardless of age and whether they are traveling together. Parents and guardians can apply for their children’s ETA using a separate application form.
How will I receive my approved UK ETA?
You will receive the decision on your ETA application, whether approval or denial, via the email address you provided in the application form. You do not need to print the email. Your ETA will be digitally linked to the passport you used to apply with.
Do I need to apply for a separate ETA when traveling between England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland?
No. Having an approved ETA means having permission to travel to any of the UK’s constituent countries. After going through border control, they are free to travel between England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
However, an ETA does not allow travelers to enter the Republic of Ireland, a separate and independent country, and other European countries.
I have dual citizenship. Do I need a UK ETA for both my passports?
No. You can apply for a UK ETA for only one of your passports, but make sure it is the one you bring when you travel to the UK. While you must disclose any other citizenship or passport details on the ETA online application form, the approved digital permit will be linked to the passport you used to apply with.
Still, you may apply for a UK ETA for both your passports. You must complete the online application form and pay twice to do so.
Is it okay to travel to the EU with an EU passport and return to the UK with a British passport?
Yes, that is possible. However, the UK government advises British citizens with dual nationalities to travel on their British passports. Dual nationals can show their British passport to the carrier to prove they do not need an ETA to travel to the UK.
I have dual citizenship in the US and the UK. Can I come to the UK with my British passport and return to the US with my American passport?
UK citizens with dual nationalities are advised to travel with their British passports. A British passport is enough proof to carriers that they do not need an ETA to visit the UK.
The UK government acknowledges that American nationals must travel to and from the USA using their American passport. Travelers with American and British nationality can use their American passports for check-in purposes but should present their British passports to the carrier for boarding to show they are exempt from needing an ETA to travel to the UK.
What can I do if I need to correct the details on my UK ETA application?
Filling out a new UK ETA application form is the easiest and fastest way to correct any mistakes after submission. Travelers should carefully review all their information before submitting their ETA application. Once submitted, you cannot modify it. If you made a mistake on your submitted application, you must repeat the process and pay the application fee again.
Can a third party apply for an ETA on my behalf, or must I go through the application process myself?
An applicant can enlist the assistance of a third party to complete the UK ETA application process. There are currently no plans to change this approach.
I have a criminal record. Can I still apply for a UK ETA?
You can apply for a UK ETA but may be denied. UK ETA applicants with a criminal record in the UK or elsewhere may be refused an ETA if they were sentenced to 12 months or more in jail or convicted within the past 12 months.
Should I apply for a UK ETA again if my details have changed?
Yes. Your UK ETA is connected to your passport. If you need to change any vital information on your passport, such as your first name, last name, gender, or nationality, you must update your passport and apply for a new UK ETA.
What happens to my UK ETA if I get a new passport?
The ETA linked to your passport will be invalidated when you get a new passport. Each passport is a unique travel document with distinctive details, such as the passport number. You need to apply for a new ETA with details of your new passport.
Will I need to apply for a new UK ETA if my passport is stolen or goes missing?
Yes. You must report immediately if your passport is lost or stolen and arrange to get a new one. Once you have a new passport, you must apply for a new UK ETA using your new travel document.
Payment methods and fees FAQs
How much does a UK ETA cost?
Each UK ETA application costs £10. It must be paid online to be able to submit the application form and complete the process.
How do I pay for my ETA application?
To pay for your UK ETA application, you must provide your credit card or debit card number, name on the card, expiry date, and CVV code. Apply Pay and Google Pay are also accepted payment methods.
If my application is refused, can I get my money back?’
No. Payments for UK ETA applications are non-refundable.
Traveling with a UK ETA FAQs
How long can I stay in the UK on an approved ETA?
Travelers with an approved UK ETA can stay in the UK for up to six months per visit. They can move freely between England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.
Will a valid UK ETA guarantee my entry?
No. An approved UK ETA does not guarantee entry into the UK.
An ETA allows you to board your carrier (i.e., plane, ship, train) and travel to the country. Upon arrival, you must still submit your identity documents to the UK Border Force or go through an electronic passport gate (eGate), if available.
The border agency will assess whether you comply with the security requirements. Even if you have an ETA, you may still be refused entry if you fail a border check or meet other entry conditions.
How will they know at the border if someone has a settled or pre-settled status? Some people’s status is tied to their old passports.
The UK ETA is a digital trailer permit tied to one’s passport. By scanning your passport, carriers, the UK Border Force, and other relevant authorities can confirm your ETA validity and other travel permissions.
The UK Home Office uses the Advance Passenger Information (API), which allows carriers to confirm travelers’ permissions. This could be permission to allow passengers to be brought to the UK, denial of permission to carry the passenger to the UK, or that their permission needs to be determined by the carrier.
Travelers with British, Irish, BOTC passports, UK visas, and UK immigration status only need to show their passport or immigration status to prove they are not required to carry an ETA to travel to the UK.
Suppose one has an Indefinite Leave To Remain (ILR) in the UK but was issued 15 years ago. Does it need to be converted into a digital format?
For now, no. A person with an immigration status in the UK does not need to have it converted into a digital format.
When the Advance Passenger Information (API) system shows that a traveler has permission to enter the UK, carriers are required to check for physical proof of it.
Physical visa documents that prove UK immigration status include a Biometric Resident Permit (BRP), a Biometric Residence Card (BRC), and passport endorsements such as wet ink stamps and vignette stickers.
The UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) is currently developing a digital immigration system. It will replace physical visa documents with an online record of immigration statuses or electronic visas (eVisa).
Throughout 2024, UKVI will contact individuals who still have physical documents to prove their immigration to register for a UKVI account. They can then use their UKVI account to access and prove their immigration status.
If I don’t receive my ETA on time, can I enter the UK anyway if allowed by the border officer?
The UK ETA will be implemented gradually throughout 2024. During this period, travelers will be expected to obtain an ETA before traveling to the UK once their country is added to the list of those subjected to the ETA requirement. Typically, the UK government will announce when they can apply for an ETA and when it will start enforcing it.
The British government is taking a pragmatic approach to enforcing the new ETA requirement, knowing it is a significant change that may take time for people to understand.
However, once the UK ETA is enforced, it will be up to the carriers to refuse to board a passenger who does not have the required permissions. This is why travelers are recommended to apply and receive the ETA at least three working days before their travel to avoid any inconvenience or disruption to travel plans.
Do I need to bring a physical paper copy of my UK ETA?
No. You do not need a digital copy or physical printout of your ETA. It is an electronic travel permit linked to your passport. By scanning your passport, carriers, the UK Border Force, and other relevant authorities can confirm its validity through their systems.
Still, keep your ETA in your email or print it in case manual checks are suddenly required.
Is it six months in total spent in the UK within the ETA validity period or per calendar year or other?
With an ETA, you can visit the UK as a standard visitor for up to six months on a single trip for tourism, short-term study, business, and other permitted activities for short visits. The ETA is valid for multiple short visits in the UK within its two-year validity.
What happens after the two-year validity period has expired? Will a new ETA have to be applied for? Are there any limitations to this?
When an ETA expires after its two-year validity period, travelers who still plan to visit the UK must apply for a new ETA and pay the application fee again. There are no limitations on the number of repeat applications.
Will the UK ETA affect the rights of travelers using the Airside transit or Landside transit?
No. The UK ETA will not affect the existing Airside and Landside transit rules.
Can I switch to a UK visa after arriving on an ETA?
No. You cannot exchange your UK ETA for a visa while still in the UK and for whatever reason. Arriving on an ETA allows the traveler to stay in the UK for a maximum of only six months at a time, and you may opt to leave and re-enter the country with your valid ETA.
Suppose you suddenly need to stay longer in the UK to study, work, or for other reasons. In that case, you must first return to your home country and apply for the proper UK visa from there.
Can I visit other European countries with an approved UK ETA?
No. An approved UK ETA does not allow travelers to enter the Republic of Ireland, an independent country, and other parts of Europe. The UK is not a member of the European Union (EU) or the Schengen Common Travel Area.
To visit other European countries, you must inquire about the country’s entry requirements, whether you require a visa or not, before booking your travel.
The EU is developing a similar system called the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS). By mid-2025, foreign nationals who don’t require a visa to enter the Schengen area must obtain an ETIAS. This includes UK citizens.
Refusals, cancellations, and appeals FAQs
Why would my ETA application be denied?
An application for a UK ETA may be denied for the following reasons:
- Providing false, inaccurate, or incomplete information
- Having a passport issued by a country whose citizens need a visa to enter the UK
- Staying in the UK for longer than six months or working in the UK
- Having past immigration breaches in the UK or elsewhere
- Having a criminal record in the UK or elsewhere
- Having any involvement or associations with illegal groups
What are my options if my UK ETA application is denied?
If your UK ETA application is denied, you may apply for a UK visa to enter the country as an alternative travel authorization permit. The following UK visas may be relevant to travelers who are denied a UK ETA:
- Standard Visitor Visa
- Temporary Work Visa
- Transit Visa
Can I apply for a UK ETA again if my previous application was rejected?
Yes. Individuals denied a UK ETA may consider submitting a new application and paying the application fee again. Still, it’s crucial to address the cause of the initial rejection.
Is it possible for an approved UK ETA to be canceled or revoked?
An approved ETA can be canceled or revoked for the following reasons:
- The holder is excluded or deported from the UK.
- The holder is convicted of a crime in the UK or elsewhere and sentenced to 12 or more months in jail.
- The holder is proven to be in breach of immigration laws (i.e., overstaying or working)
- The holder is verified to have withheld or submitted false documents, knowingly or not.
- The holder has accumulated unpaid debts or litigation costs.’
- The holder is found to be detrimental to the UK public due to their behavior, character, associations, or other reasons, regardless of whether it results in a conviction.
My ETA has been canceled while I am still in the UK. What do I do?
You cannot legally stay in the country if your ETA has been revoked. If your passport was lost or stolen, you can apply for a new ETA after leaving the UK and returning home.
What is the process to cancel an approved UK ETA?
UK Immigration authorities typically initiate the process of canceling an approved ETA when there are grounds for cancellation.
Can I appeal my case if my ETA was denied or canceled?
No. There is no right to administrative review or appeal against a decision made on an ETA application.
If refused an ETA, a traveler can apply for a UK visa instead, where the application process allows for a more thorough consideration.
However, the Judicial Review process allows applicants to challenge a decision they believe to be unlawful.
ETA data privacy FAQs
Will UK ETA applicant data be shared with carriers?
The UK government will use the Existing Advance Passenger Information (API) systems to send carriers (land, sea, and air) information on travelers and their permissions to enter the UK. Carriers must check if travelers have valid and eligible identification documents (i.e., passport) and permissions (i.e., ETA, visa) before boarding them and bringing them to the UK.
How will the UK ETA system process my data?
How long will the UK ETA system have my data?
The system typically stores facial biometric data for three years unless there’s a reason to hold onto them longer. Personal information and biographics are kept for 15 years following the last case action under visa retention periods.