UK Electronic Travel Authorization (UK ETA)

What is the UK Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA)?

The United Kingdom Electronic Travel Authorization (UK ETA) is a requirement introduced by the United Kingdom for travelers who do not require a visa to travel to the UK. In comparison to a standard visa application, the UK ETA offers a considerably streamlined and cost-effective process. Applicants are not required to make in-person visits to visa centers; the entire application procedure is conducted online. Furthermore, individuals even have the option to apply on behalf of fellow travelers. The granted travel authorizations will be digitally linked to travelers’ passports. Consequently, there is no need for travelers to produce a physical copy of the authorization when journeying to the UK. However, retaining a printout of the confirmation email might be advisable for personal records. The Electronic Travel Authorization allows holders to travel to the UK, but it does not guarantee entry; since the ultimate decision rests with the border officials upon arrival in the UK.

The United Kingdom initiated the implementation of the Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) system on October 25, 2023. As of that date, Qatari citizens were able to apply for a UK ETA. With effect from November 15, 2023, obtaining the UK ETA became an obligatory requirement for Qatar passport holders who plan to visit the UK. In the subsequent phase, which commenced on February 1, 2024, citizens of the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Jordan became eligible to apply for the UK ETA. As of February 22, 2024, the UK ETA is set to be an essential prerequisite for travelers from these nationalities. Thus, this new system fully replaced the Electronic Visa Waiver (EVW) program. Further stages will involve the inclusion of additional visa-exempt countries from around the world.

Through the implementation of the pre-travel verification process for visa-exempt travelers, the UK government aims to enhance its border security and identify any potential risks posed by these travelers, be it related to security or irregular migration. This approach will also save time spent on examining these travelers upon arrival, thus reducing the number of individuals denied entry at British airports and border crossings.

Who Needs a UK ETA?

The following categories of travelers are required to apply for an Electronic Travel Authorization before traveling to the United Kingdom (including England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland):

  • Qatari citizens (starting from November 15, 2023).
  • Citizens of the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Jordan (starting from February 22, 2024).
  • Travelers from all visa-exempt nationalities, including citizens of the European Union (by the end of 2024).

However, there are certain categories of travelers who will not need to apply for the UK ETA, including:

  • British and Irish citizens.
  • Residents of the UK, holders of various residency permits for purposes like work or study.
  • Residents of Ireland who do not require a visa to enter the UK, provided they are arriving from Ireland, Guernsey, Jersey, or the Isle of Man.
  • Holders of entry visas for the UK.

UK ETA Requirements

To apply for the UK ETA, there are several essential requirements that travelers must fulfill. These requirements are clearly specified, facilitating the application process for the majority of applicants. They include:

Valid Passport

Applicants need a valid passport that proves their identity and nationality. The applicant's nationality specified in the passport must be from an eligible nationality for applying for the UK Electronic travel Authorization. Typically, the remaining validity of the passport should not be less than six months, though it's preferred to have at least two years remaining validity to ensure the longest possible validity for the ETA, as the ETA will automatically expire if the passport does.

Bank Card

To pay the UK ETA fees, applicants will need a payment method such as a valid credit or debit card to pay the authorization fees online. Alternative payment methods may also be available, such as e-wallets.

Email Address

During the application process, applicants will need to provide a valid email address. This allows the UK Home Office to communicate with the applicant and inform them of the decision, whether it's approval or refusal.

Digital Photo

Applicants need to upload a recent passport-size photo of themselves or capture one directly using their device's camera during the application. The photo must adhere to standard passport photo specifications and be of high clarity.

UK ETA Application Steps

All visa-exempt travelers will need to obtain a UK ETA before traveling to the UK. Even children and infants will require individual visit authorizations. Anyone can apply either through a mobile app or through the official website of the UK government. The application can be completed by following these steps:

  1. Fill out the Application Form

    To access the UK Electronic Travel Authorization application form, applicants will need to download the app for their mobile devices or access the online application platform. Then, the application form should be completed online. Applicants will need to provide their personal details, passport information, and answer some questions about their intended trip and previous travel history.

  2. Submit a Recent Personal Photo

    Applicants need to provide a recent and clear photo that meets the specifications of passport-sized photos. The photo should be in color and unedited. The image size should range from 50KB to 10MB, with dimensions not less than 600 x 750 pixels. The background should be light-colored, and the facial expression should be neutral with both eyes open.

  3. Pay the Application Fee

    Applicants for the UK Electronic Travel Authorization need to pay the application fee online during the application process. The applicant will enter their bank card number, expiry date, cardholder name, and CVV code to successfully complete the payment.

  4. Receive the Decision

    If the UK Home Office determines that the applicant meets the qualifying requirements and there are no reasons to reject their application, such as previous immigration violations, criminal records inside or outside the UK, or providing false or misleading information in the application form, an approval for the Electronic Travel Authorization will be issued. The applicant will be notified with a confirmation email to the email address they provided during the application process. Upon receiving the authorization, travelers can use it for multiple trips to the UK as long as it remains valid.

UK Electronic Travel Authorization (UK ETA)

UK ETA Processing Time

The expected processing time for submitted applications is approximately 3 working days. Some applicants might receive decisions even sooner. However, in certain cases, processing might take longer if additional checks and verification is deemed necessary by the UK authorities.


The application fee for the UK Electronic Travel Authorization is one of the basic requirements to fulfill during the application process. The fee for the UK Electronic Travel Authorization is £10 per applicant. These fees are standardized for all applicants regardless of their ages or nationalities. The accepted primary method of payment will be through bank cards such as Mastercard, Visa, or others. In addition to the mentioned basic fees, applicants may need to pay additional fees if they choose to utilize visa service providers to assist them in the application process. The cost of the Electronic Travel Authorization is significantly low compared to what citizens of GCC countries pay for traveling to the UK using the Electronic Visa Waiver (EVW), where the fee for the EVW is £30. It is also much less than what citizens of non-eligible countries pay when applying for a standard visitor visa to the UK, with a visa fee of £100.

Duration of Stay and Validity of the UK Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA)

The United Kingdom ETA holds a validity period of up to two years or until the expiration of the passport used for application, whichever comes first. This authorization enables its holders to make multiple visits to the United Kingdom for short-term purposes, including:

  • Stays of up to 6 months for purposes such as tourism, business, visiting family and friends, or short-term study.
  • Stays of up to 3 months for creative work purposes (for specific categories of talents, such as artists, musicians, or film production crews, subject to the conditions of the Creative Worker visa).
  • Transit purposes serve travelers who need to enter British territories during their journey through the country while en route to another destination.

However, the UK ETA is not intended for long-term work or study purposes. Those intending to visit the UK for such reasons should apply for a visa that aligns with their travel purpose.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the UK ETA the same as the Electronic Visa Waiver (UK EVW)?

The UK ETA is a newly introduced system that will replace the Electronic Visa Waiver (EVW). It is designed to serve all visa-exempt nationalities, extending beyond just the Arab Gulf countries.

Do I need to provide biometric information for the UK ETA?

Applicants are not required to visit visa centers or submit biometric data, such as fingerprints. The application process is completely online and only requires a personal photo, allowing you to apply remotely.

What should I do if my application for the UK ETA is refused?

If your application for the UK Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) is refused, you will need to apply for a UK standard visitor visa or a UK transit visa, depending on the purpose of your travel.

I am an EU citizen and do not need a visa for the UK. Do I need a UK ETA to travel to London?

Currently, as an EU citizen, you can travel to the UK without requiring a visa or UK ETA. However, please be aware that in the upcoming months, there might be a requirement for all visa-exempt nationalities, including EU citizens, to obtain a UK ETA before traveling to London. This requirement is anticipated to be fully implemented by the end of 2024.

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