Australian travelers heading to the United Kingdom later this year will encounter a new requirement in the form of an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA), introducing an additional step and fee.
The ETA serves as a ‘visa waiver,’ although it’s technically not an e-Visa. Similar to the United States ESTA system, the UK ETA requires pre-approval before boarding your flight. The introduction of the UK ETA began with the requirement for visitors to Qatar, extending to other Gulf states like Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates in February.
This phased rollout will continue globally throughout the year, making the ETA mandatory for travelers from over 50 countries by the end of 2024. The cost of obtaining an ETA is £10 (approximately A$20), payable by credit or debit card during the online application process.
While the fee may not be substantial, the crucial aspect is ensuring travelers secure their ETA before heading to the airport. This new requirement aims to streamline the entry process, emphasizing its relevance for tourism and business purposes, distinct from the traditional visa process.
How do you apply for a UK eTA?
Applying for a UK Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) is a straightforward online process through the official UK government website or the UK ETA App available on Apple or Android smartphones. The application involves:
1. Providing contact and passport details.
2. Uploading a valid digital photo.
3. Answering a set of questions.
4. Paying the £10 fee using a credit or debit card.
The UK Government suggests that “most applicants will receive a response within three working days,” with many getting results even sooner. It’s advisable not to delay this process until the last minute.
Unlike the instant approvals sometimes seen with the US ESTA, applying for a UK ETA on your smartphone doesn’t guarantee instant approval. However, the good news is that each ETA is valid for two years, allowing for multiple visits of up to six months each. This means travelers won’t have to repeat the process for every visit to the UK.
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