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| 3 minutes read

UK to begin roll-out of electronic travel authorisation programme from January 2023

If you have ever travelled to the US as a visitor, you may be familiar with ESTAs. ESTA is a US government programme which allows you to complete an online form a few days before travel and pay a fee to confirm that you can enter the US without a visa (known as “visa waiver”). It is designed to speed entry at the border.

You may also be familiar with that feeling of dread upon approach to the US border when you realise that you’ve forgotten to apply for your ESTA or it is has just expired.

Some good news therefore for those individuals who enjoy paperwork and worrying: both the UK and the EU plan to introduce similar programmes in 2023.

The UK will begin to roll-out Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) from January 2023 on a limited trial basis with full operations expected by Autumn 2023.

The EU will also roll out a European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) from November 2023.

Neither the ETA nor the ETIAS are a visa. They are a travel authorisation designed to strengthen security checks on travellers who travel visa-free to the UK or to the EU.

Employers should ensure that their employees have completed their applications before undertaking business trips.

While exact details are yet to be announced, both the UK and the EU have outlined their plans.

The UK ETA

Who needs to apply?

ETA will be required for all Non-Visa Nationals who are visiting the UK.

Non-Visa Nationals means citizens of countries that do not require visas to visit the UK and can enter on their passports alone – for example, EEA citizens, US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand etc.

Citizens of countries who require visas (“Visa Nationals”) to visit the UK will not require an ETA since they have already completed an application – for example, South Africa, China, Russia, India etc.

Republic of Ireland passport holders will be exempt along with those of any nationality who hold a resident permit for the UK (e.g. Skilled Workers, Students, Family Members, those with ILR etc.).

When to apply?

The application must be filed before travelling to visit the UK.

The form is online and asks some basic personal questions and travel information. It should take under ten minutes and a decision will be provided within 48-72 hours.

The cost of the ETA is yet to be announced but it will be competitive (ESTA is $20 and ETIAS will be €7 per application) and significantly less than the Home Office visa fees.

Validity

While not confirmed, it is expected that the ETA will be in line with ESTA and ETIAS and each successful application will provide travel authorisation for 2-3 years. This means that you do not have to apply to ETA per trip to the UK, which is a welcome relief.

The EU ETIAS

Who needs to apply?

ETIAS will be required for all non-visa nationals who are visiting the Schengen Area (note, not all EU countries are in the Schengen Area).

Non-visa nationals means citizens of countries that do not require visas to visit the Schengen Area and can enter on their passports alone – for example, UK citizens, US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand etc.

Citizens of countries who require visas (“Visa nationals”) to visit the EU will not require an ETIAS since they have already completed an application – for example, South Africa, China, Russia, India etc.

Resident permit holders of any Schengen Area country are exempt regardless of nationality.

When to apply?

The application must be filed before travelling to visit the UK.

The form is online and asks some basic personal questions and travel information. It should take under ten minutes and a decision will be provided within 96 hours.

Passports must have at least six months validity from when the trips starts.

ETIAS will be €7 per person aged 18-70.

Validity

While not confirmed, it is expected that the ETIAS will be in line with ESTA and ETA and each successful application will provide travel authorisation for 2-3 years.

Tags

immigration, private client, employment, brexit

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