All travelers to the UK – including those from the EU and US – will require pre-authorization by 2025


Airline passengers in the arrivals hall of Heathrow Airport in London, UK, on ​​Friday, December 23, 2022.

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The UK will require all visa-exempt travelers to apply for a digital travel authorization before entering the country.

People with passports who currently arrive in the country without pre-checking — including EU, US, Canadian, Japanese, Australian, New Zealand and other citizens — will all need to apply for and pay for an electronic travel authorization by the end of 2024.

British and Irish nationals and people with UK-based status are exempt from the scheme.

The government says the scheme will strengthen border security and is similar to that of countries such as the US and Canada. The UK has previously said that under current rules it does not have fully accurate data on the number of people entering and leaving the country.

The cost of the ETA has not been confirmed, but is expected to be in the same range as those arrangements. The US Electronic System for Travel Authorization costs $21.

The European Union plans to launch its own digital travel authorization system, called ETIAS, for visa-exempt nationals in 2024. It will allow travel within 30 countries.

Travelers from some countries will have easier access to the UK. The scheme will be launched for Qatari citizens in November, when it replaces the electronic visa waiver scheme, and will be extended to Jordanian citizens in February 2024.

However, it will represent a significant change for many frequent travelers from Europe and elsewhere who currently do not require pre-approval.

Applications are made online or via an app. Those with biometric passports scan them with their phones and may also need to take a “dynamic selfie,” which uses motion, to submit a photo of their face.

They are processed automatically and a decision is made within three days. Some requests are processed faster. If approved, the ETA is valid for multiple visits over two years.

Citizens who are currently able to use e-passports on arrival in the UK will continue to be able to do so with an ETA.

Anyone arriving at the UK border by air or train without an ETA will be refused entry, even if they arrive via Ireland but are not Irish or British citizens.

The government has previously said it expects to process 30 million ETA applications per year.

It is clear that the UK has ambitions to eventually require all travelers to submit biometric fingerprints before travelling, and is working towards a scheme where this is submitted via a smartphone.

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