The UK government made a series of announcements in July 2022 which indicated the roll-out schedule of the UK Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA). The launch will be phased over several periods, throughout the course of several quarters. This will enable to UK government to monitor the performance and impacts across all stakeholders, such as travellers as well as with air, sea, and land carriers. It is anticipated the roll-out will occur throughout 2023, and be initially live for several Persian Gulf passport-holding travellers.
What is the expected roll-out schedule of the UK ETA?
In April 2022, the UK government successfully completed a trial of sending messages to carriers via the interactive Advance Passenger Information System (iAPI). This entailed sending individual passenger details, travel routes and approval or deny boarding codes within the messages. The UK government is still working with carriers to refine the system so that it integrates within their existing boarding processes without causing unnecessary burden. Carriers include both private and public transporters of air, sea and land vehicles which move people from non-UK territories into the UK.
By the 1st quarter of 2023, the UK government expects it will release the first release, a private beta of the UK ETA. Sometime between the 1st and 3rd quarters of 2023, it is expected the second release of the UK ETA system will be operational and support travellers from countries such as Qatar Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia. Lastly, a full roll-out of the system is expected by late Q2 2023, and potentially early 2024 depending on the success of the prior phases.
|January 2023 to March 2023
|1st release – private beta rolled out with select carriers and select travellers
|March 2023 to July 2023
|2nd release – initial soft launch for Persian Gulf travellers holding passports from Qatar Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabi.
|July 2023 onward
|3rd release – upon success of 2nd release, additional countries will be added to the list of eligible countries.
What travellers will need a UK ETA?
What 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.
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. The information sent to carriers will include biometric and personal information such as:
- First, middle and surnames
- Passport number
- Passport expiry
- Passport issuing country
The onus will be on the carriers to confirm the data on the travel document matches the information sent by the UK government to the carrier regarding the traveller’s UK ETA approval or denial.
Why is the UK launching an electronic travel authorisation?
The goal of launching an electronic travel authorisation for the UK is to gain the ability to more thoroughly screen travellers prior to their arrival to the United Kingdom. The UK ETA will also enable the UK Border Force to have greater visibility over the number of non-UK nationals in the country at any point in time. The UK Border Force seeks to full digitise its borders for travellers from all countries, whether or not they need a visa.