UK electronic travel authorization scheme launches for Qatari nationals

Friday, November 17, 2023



The United Kingdom’s electronic travel authorisation (ETA) scheme has officially been launched for Qatari nationals, marking a significant step in the UK government’s efforts to modernize and digitize its border control system.

This move is expected to enhance the overall customer experience for the millions of legitimate visitors who travel to the UK.

Qatari nationals have been able to apply for their ETAs since October 25, 2023, with the majority opting for the mobile app, which streamlines the application process. The introduction of the ETA is part of a broader initiative to transform and digitize the UK border, creating a more seamless travel experience.

The UK government’s decision to implement the ETA system for Qatari nationals first reflects the strong bilateral relationship between the two countries. The British Ambassador to the State of Qatar, Jon Wilks CMG, expressed his delight at the official opening of the scheme, emphasizing its role in simplifying the travel process and strengthening the human bridge between the UK and Qatar.

Last year, the UK welcomed nearly 800,000 visitors from the Gulf, with 45,000 from Qatar alone. The number of visitors is expected to increase in the coming years. The ETA scheme, which replaces the Electronic Visa Waivers (EVW), offers several advantages, including a reduced cost of £10 and the flexibility of unlimited visits to the UK over two years or until the passport expires.

Notably, nationals from Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan will also be required to obtain an ETA starting from February 22, 2024. They can begin applying for their ETAs from February 1, 2024.

The application process for an ETA involves providing biographic and biometric information, along with answering questions related to suitability and criminality. The quick processing time, with most decisions made within hours, ensures a smooth and efficient experience for applicants.

VisitBritain CEO, Patricia Yates, highlighted the positive impact of the ETA scheme on travel to the UK, emphasizing its role in making travel easier, cheaper, and more flexible for visitors. The scheme is expected to roll out to more Gulf nationals from February 2024.

To facilitate the smooth implementation of the scheme, the UK government is collaborating closely with global airline, maritime, and rail carriers. Looking ahead, the ETA scheme is expected to be extended worldwide, affecting those who do not currently require a visa to visit or transit through the UK, including nationals from Europe and America. The rollout for other nationalities will be confirmed in due course.

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