The government is introducing an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) scheme and will apply to those passengers visiting the UK or transiting the UK who do not need a visa for short stays of up to six months. British and Irish citizens will not be required to obtain an ETA. This should be live at the end of 2024 and will be a requirement visitors worldwide who do not need a visa for short stays, including those visiting from Europe. Visitors do not currently need to make any form of application to visit the UK, but this will change with the introduction of the ETA’s. 

Qatari visitors will be the first to apply for an ETA in October 2023 and the rest of the Gulf Corporation Council States and Jordan from February 2024.The new scheme will replace the Electronic Visa Waiver currently in place for the GCC states. 

ETA’s will enhance the UK’s border security by increasing our knowledge about those seeking to come to the UK and preventing the arrival of those who pose a threat. 

Please see the following video for further information: 

However, visitors from the Gulf Cooperation Council states and Jordan, will be the first to use this scheme ahead of the worldwide expansion throughout 2024. Qatari visitors will be able to apply in October 2023. 

The UK and Ireland have been giving consideration to whether there is scope for a workable UK/Ireland data-sharing solution to determine whether a person is a lawful resident of Ireland and could therefore potentially be exempt from the ETA requirement. I am pleased to confirm that the Government will be exempting Third Country Nationals legally resident in Ireland from the requirement to obtain an Electronic Travel Authorisation when travelling to the UK on a journey within the Common Travel Area. In order to benefit from this exemption, if required by a UK immigration official, non-Irish residents of Ireland will need to present physical evidence which demonstrates that they are legally resident in Ireland, The Home Office will provide guidance in due course on acceptable evidence.   

The ETA scheme will be implemented in a phased manner, on a nationality basis, over the next two years. Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan, will be the first countries to benefit from the ETA scheme, allowing them to move to non-visa national status. The Home Office will provide further details about which countries will be next to benefit from the ETA scheme in due course.  

Information and guidance about the scheme can be found here 

Further Information 

We would be grateful for your help in preparing visitors for this change, and to support you we have developed the attached partner pack which contains: 

  1. Key messages 
  2. Stakeholder factsheet 
  3. Ireland and Northern Ireland stakeholder factsheet 
  4. Social media assets and supporting post copy 
  5. ‘What is an ETA?’ guidance video 
  6. ETA GOV.UK webpage 

The products are intended for sharing externally and we encourage you to share these widely through your own channels and with your relevant stakeholder networks. The partner pack can also be shared with your stakeholders for their use. 

We will also be issuing a press notice (please see below) and posting on Home Office social media imminently and encourage you to amplify, retweet and share where possible. 

Next Steps 

The introduction of ETAs will be a significant change for many people who can currently travel to the UK without any prior interaction with the Home Office.  We will support rollout with a global marketing communications campaign, which is being developed to drive awareness and action.  Amongst our key stakeholders will be Carriers & their Industry Bodies, the travel sector, and friends and relatives of travellers in the UK. We know a large percentage of visitors to the UK will be travelling to visit family & friends here, so we need to educate UK residents as well as international messaging.  

We recognise your organisation will play an important part in supporting the promotion of this new permission to travel and that you will have many questions.   

You should have already received an invitation to an All Advisory Group broadcast on Thursday 16th of March, 10:00 – 10:45 to hear more about the UK’s introduction of Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETAs), and what it will mean for travellers to the UK.  

We will be implementing a programme of extensive engagement over the coming months to raise awareness of the ETA scheme. Our first set of events will be a series of sector specific broadcasts. At these sessions, attendees will receive an overview of the ETA scheme and the opportunity to ask questions.  

Although events have been tailored for specific sectors, we welcome attendance from all to any session that suits their requirements. As mentioned, this is the first in a series of planned events, and we will look forward to engaging with your organisation going forward.  

Please note we have a new email address specifically for ETA engagement, please contact [email protected]. For any other FBIS related queries, please continue to email [email protected]

Thank you for your continued support and we look forward to speaking to you soon.

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