UK ETA: A Quick Guide on Eligibility, Requirements, and Application Process

A United Kingdom (UK) Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) is a digital travel permit or document required for visa-exempt foreigners before traveling to the UK. 

UK-bound non-visa travelers must submit an online application form and receive a valid ETA before traveling to England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.

ETA eligibility and requirements

If you have a British, Irish, or British Overseas Territory passport or have a visa or immigration status for the UK, you do not need a UK ETA

In some cases, lawfully recognized residents of Ireland may also be exempt from needing the digital travel permit. 

An individual traveling to the UK must apply for an ETA before traveling to the UK if they meet the following requirements:

  • You have a valid biometric passport issued by a country with visa waiver status with the UK. You do not need a visa to visit the UK. 
  • You intend to visit the UK for tourism, visiting family and friends, short-course study, permitted business activities, or transit.
  • You plan to stay in the UK for only up to six months.
  • You plan to remain in the UK for only up to three months for temporary creative work or under the Creative worker visa concession.
  • You are transiting in the UK or changing planes in the UK to your onward destination. 
  • You have no previous immigration violations in the UK or elsewhere.
  • You have no previous criminal history or are deemed not a threat to the UK’s national security.
  • You have a recent digital passport-size photo of high quality.
  • You have a valid email address.
  • You have a working credit card, debit card, Apple Pay, or Google Pay to pay for the £10 application fee online.

ETA application process

The UK ETA application is entirely online. Applicants do not need to go to consulates or visa centers to submit documents or pick up their ETA. Here’s what you need to do:

1. Upload or take a photo of the passport you will use to travel to the UK.

Ensure you include the picture and the two lines of numbers and letters at the bottom.

2. Upload a recent passport photo or take a picture using your device’s camera.

Images should be saved as a jpeg file or with the file extension .jpg. Children aged nine and under will not need to upload a passport photo.

3. Fill in all the required information.

These include personal information (i.e., name, birth date), passport details, employment details, home address, and contact information.

4. Answer questions on security and eligibility. 

Applicants must truthfully disclose criminal records, past immigration offenses, and any associations with or membership in any unlawful or illegal groups or organizations.

5. Pay for the  £10 UK ETA application online.

You can pay the ETA application fee via credit card, debit card, Apple Pay, or Google Pay.

Once you have submitted your application, you will receive an email confirmation that your application has been received. 

You will receive a decision, whether a denied or approved ETA, via the email address you provided in the application form. 

Many applicants receive the decision on their ETA application within three working days. Some applications may receive a decision earlier, while others may take longer. 

If granted, a UK ETA is digitally linked to your passport, allowing multiple short-stay visits to the UK of up to six months. It is valid for two years or until your passport expires, whichever comes first.

If you do not meet the requirements above or are denied a UK ETA, you should consider applying for a visa to visit the UK. Visa alternatives for the ETA are the UK standard Visitor visa, Temporary Creative Work visa, and the Transit visa.