UK Announces Major Change to Visit Visa Requirements for GCC Nationals

The UK government has announced a major change in visit visa requirements for citizens from Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states and Jordan. The introduction of the Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) scheme brings reduced costs and streamlined entry procedures for Gulf travelers and Jordanians, aligning them with visitors from the US and Australia.
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In a significant development, the United Kingdom (UK) government has announced a major change to visit visa requirements for Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nationals and Jordanians. This move aims to streamline the visa process and enhance travel ease for citizens from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, and Jordan.

The UK government has decided to eliminate visit visa requirements for these nations and instead offer them an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) that will be valid for two years.

Reduced Cost and Enhanced Access to the UK

Under the ETA scheme, Gulf travellers and Jordanians will benefit from a significant reduction in visa-related expenses. Instead of paying £30 ($37) for each visit, they will now be able to obtain an ETA for just £10 ($12).

This move aligns the entry requirements for citizens of the GCC states and Jordan with those of the United States and Australia.

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Simple Application Process through Mobile App

Applying for an ETA is made easy through a dedicated mobile phone application. Interested individuals need to provide their biographic and biometric details, including a digital photograph, and respond to a set of suitability questions. The process is designed to be user-friendly, convenient, and entirely digital.

Implementation in Stages for GCC and Jordan

The UK government has planned a phased implementation of the ETA scheme. Starting in October 2023, Qatari nationals will be eligible for the scheme, followed by the rest of the GCC states and Jordan in February 2024.

Furthermore, the government aims to expand this scheme globally throughout 2024.

The introduction of the ETA scheme is part of the UK government’s comprehensive plan to digitize its border by 2025. This initiative seeks to enhance border security while improving the overall customer experience for travellers.

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Bringing Entry Requirements in Line with Other Visitors

The ETA scheme eliminates the visa requirement for GCC nationals and Jordanians, aligning their entry requirements with visitors from countries such as the United States and Australia. This change ensures a more equitable and streamlined process for all international visitors to the UK.

The enthusiasm from UK Immigration Minister

UK Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick expresses excitement about the new ETA scheme. He emphasizes the invaluable contributions made by Gulf states and Jordan to the UK’s tourism industry.

Jenrick believes that the low cost of an ETA, compared to similar international schemes, will strengthen border security and ensure community safety.

Minister of State for the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia, Lord Ahmad, expresses delight regarding the UK’s partnership with the Gulf states and Jordan.

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He commends the introduction of the ETA scheme, which he believes will foster easier and more affordable travel between the UK and these regions, ultimately boosting business and tourism links.

It is important to note that visitors from Gulf countries are highly valued contributors to the UK economy, having spent over £2 billion ($2.5 billion) during their visits last year. The implementation of the ETA scheme will further encourage travel and strengthen economic ties between the UK and the GCC states, as well as Jordan.


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Manish Khandelwal
Manish Khandelwal

Manish Khandelwal, a travel-tech enthusiast with over a decade of experience in the travel industry. Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Travelobiz.com, he's passionate about writing.

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