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ETA scheme

Jan 29, 2023

All individuals (except British and Irish citizens) will be required to seek permission to travel to the UK in advance. The scheme will be operational by the end of 2024.

The Home Office are introducing a universal ‘permission to travel’ requirement, which will require everyone wishing to travel to the UK (except British and Irish citizens) to seek permission in advance of travel. At present, certain cohorts of people do not require a visa for short stays, or other specified immigration status, before travelling to the UK. This means that UK border control and law enforcement authorities have less information and time to assess whether a risk is posed in advance of their arrival in the UK.

Through the Nationality and Borders Bill, to fill the current gap in advance permissions, the Home Office will introduce an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) scheme broadly for those passengers visiting the UK or transiting through the UK who do not currently need a visa for short stays, or who do not already have an immigration status prior to travelling.

The scheme will give the UK more control of our borders, allowing the Home Office to block threats from entering the UK, whilst also providing individuals, and carriers, with more assurance at an earlier point in time about their ability to travel to the UK.

Similar systems are used by the USA, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand to keep their countries safe and secure.

Will EEA Citizens require ETAs?

Yes, EEA citizens will be required to obtain an ETA before travelling to the UK.

How much will an ETA cost – will this be cost recovery only?

The exact details of the scheme, including how much an ETA will cost, will be announced in due course.

When will the ETA scheme be introduced?

The ETA scheme will be fully in place by the end of 2024.

What if somebody turns up at the border without applying for an ETA?

To be fully effective, individuals’ permissions must be checked by their carrier and confirmed prior to travel. Carriers will be expected to confirm that an individual has an appropriate permission to travel, in document or digital form, before they bring them to the UK. Otherwise, they may be liable to a penalty charge.

The Home Office will use interactive advance passenger information (API) to confirm whether an individual has permission to travel to the UK and return an electronic message to the carrier advising them whether someone has a permission to travel.

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