The European Union is set to launch its own digital travel authorization scheme, called ETIAS, for visa-exempt nationals in 2024. It will enable travel within 30 countries. Meanwhile, Qatar citizens will gain smoother access to the UK as the scheme will launch for them in November and expand to Jordanian citizens in February 2024.
In a major change to its border force rules, the UK government on Thursday announced that all visa-exempt travellers will need to apply for digital travel authorization before entering the country.
This change, which is expected to be fully implemented by the end of 2024, will affect citizens of several countries, including the European Union, the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand.
According to the UK government, the Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) scheme will improve border security and is comparable to that used by countries such as the United States and Canada.
The UK has previously stated that it does not have complete data on the number of people entering and leaving the country.
Exemptions from the ETA Scheme
British and Irish passport holders, people with UK settled status, and those with “permission to live, work or study” will be exempt from the scheme.
It may be noted that the cost of the ETA has not been confirmed as of now, but it is expected to be in a similar range to those schemes used in other countries. For instance, the US Electronic System for Travel Authorization costs $21.
Launch of the ETA Scheme
ETA applications will be accepted online or through an app. Those who have biometric passports will scan them with their phone, and they may also be required to take a “dynamic selfie,” which involves movement, to submit an image of their face.
They will also be required to answer a series of questions. Their application will be automatically processed, and they will receive a decision within three days. The ETA, if approved, will be valid for multiple visits over the next two years.
Impact on Frequent Travelers from Europe and Elsewhere
This is a significant change for many frequent travellers from Europe and other parts of the world who do not currently require pre-approval. Nationals who are currently able to use e-passport gates upon arrival in the UK will be able to do so with an ETA.
It is understood that the UK intends to eventually require all travellers to submit fingerprint biometrics prior to travel and is working on a scheme that would allow this to be done via smartphone.
The government has previously stated that it anticipates processing 30 million ETA applications per year. Anyone arriving at the UK border by air or rail without an ETA, including those who arrive via Ireland but are not Irish or British citizens, will be turned away.
Other Travel Authorization Schemes
In 2024, the European Union plans to launch its own digital travel authorization scheme, known as ETIAS, for visa-exempt nationals. It will allow you to travel to 30 countries. Meanwhile, Qataris will have easier access to the UK as the scheme begins in November and expands to Jordanians in February 2024.