Muscat – Citizens of the Gulf Cooperation Council states and Jordan, travelling to the UK will be the first to benefit from that country’s new Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) scheme, ahead of its worldwide expansion in 2024.
Qatari visitors will be the first to be able to apply for an ETA in October this year.
Omani, Saudi, Bahraini, Kuwaiti and the UAE visitors will need an ETA while travelling to the UK from February 22, 2024. But before that day, the nationals of these countries would have to apply for Electronic Visa Waiver (EVW) to travel to the country.
By applying for an ETA in advance, visitors will benefit from a smooth and efficient travel. The application process will be quick, light touch and entirely digital with most visitors applying via a mobile app and receiving a swift decision on their application, stated a press release from the UK Embassy in Oman.
The cost of an ETA will be in line with similar international schemes, and individuals can make multiple visits to the UK over a two-year validity period.
‘The scheme will also further strengthen our border, by ensuring robust security checks on every visitor before travel.’
As part of the application process, individuals will need to provide biometric details and answer a set of suitability questions.
‘This will ensure we have information on those seeking to come to the UK so as to help prevent dangerous individuals, such as criminals, from entering the UK.’
Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick said, “Strengthening our border remains one of the government’s top priorities. ETAs will enhance our border security by increasing our knowledge about those seeking to come to the UK and preventing the arrival of those who pose a threat.”
“It will also improve travel for legitimate visitors, with those visiting from the Gulf Cooperation Council states being among the first to benefit.”
After the initial launch for Qatar, visitors from the rest of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states and Jordan can apply for an ETA from February next year.
The new scheme will entirely replace the current EVW scheme, which requires visitors to the UK from the GCC states to pay a higher cost for a single-use visit.
Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office Minister of State for the Middle East, Lord Tariq Ahmad of Wimbledon said, “I am delighted that our partners in the Middle East will be the first to benefit from the UK’s new scheme.
“Making travel smoother and more efficient for nationals coming from the GCC and Jordan will boost business and tourism links between the UK and the region,” he added.
By the end of 2024, ETAs will be applicable for visitors from across the world, including those visiting from Europe, who do not need visas for short stays.
Visitors from Europe, and other nations such as America and Australia do not currently need to make any form of application to visit to the UK, however this will be changing with the introduction of ETAs.