US citizens will soon have to apply for a permit before traveling to the United Kingdom and pay a small fee to enroll in the country’s upcoming Electronic Travel Authorization scheme.
According to an official at the British Consulate General, the ETA scheme is designed to secure Britain’s borders by providing accurate information about who is crossing. The move is part of Britain’s plan to fully digitize its borders by 2025.
“The plan will give the UK greater control over our borders and allow us to stop threats from entering the UK, while giving individuals and carriers greater assurance at an earlier stage about their ability to travel to the UK.” According to the British government website.
The plan is due to be fully implemented by the end of 2023, the “authorisation to travel” requirement will apply to travelers traveling to or transiting the UK without a visa or special immigration status, including visa-free nationals such as the United States. However, the issuance of travel authorization via ETA is not a regular visa.
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Other countries already have an ETA process. In 2022, the US implemented a requirement for certain visitors that cost $21. The European Union also wants to establish an ETA.
Here’s what we know so far about the upcoming ETA plan in the UK.
How will the ETA process work?
A new plan doesn’t have to be a burden on your travel planning. According to officials, the application process will be quick and easy.
The ETA application process can be completed online in minutes. Travelers should ensure they complete the process “a few days before traveling to the UK”. To apply, people need a valid passport, travel details, email address and a credit or debit card to pay online.
The typical time for the approval process will be 48 to 72 hours. Any errors in your application may delay the processing time or result in rejection.
Once approved, you can stay in the UK for up to six months for business or tourism reasons. Short-term training and medical treatment are also valid purposes for ETA.
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Who does ETA apply to?
Citizens without a visa must apply for an ETA. The approved list of countries will be announced at a later date, but is expected to include:
- European Union
- Other European countries such as Norway, Iceland, Andorra, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Vatican and Monaco
- Visa-exempt countries such as Australia, Canada and the United States
How much will the ETA cost?
According to officials, the amount will be small, but the exact cost has not yet been announced.
How long will the ETA be valid? Do I have to apply for each trip?
The ETA will likely be valid for two years and allow for multiple visits to the UK
What if I don’t apply for an ETA?
The permit is verified before the trip and the carriers check the people’s documents, either a printed or digital document. Showing up without a travel permit may result in a fine.
The Citizenship and Borders Bill will also make it a criminal offense if someone uses deception to obtain an ETA.