GGC Citizens Will Soon Need an ETA to Visit the UK

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The government of the United Kingdom has announced a new UK entry requirement for citizens of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, as well as Jordan.

By early 2024, it will be mandatory for these nationals to have an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) to visit the UK.

The UK ETA requirement will first come into effect from 15 November 2023 for Citizens of Qatar.

It will then become obligatory for nationals of the following countries from 22 February 2024:

  • Bahrain
  • Jordan
  • Kuwait
  • Oman
  • Saudi Arabia
  • United Arab Emirates

The ETA is being introduced to further strengthen security at UK borders. 

“ETAs will enhance our border security by increasing our knowledge about those seeking to come to the UK and preventing the arrival of those who pose a threat”, said UK Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick.

“It will also improve travel for legitimate visitors, with those visiting from Gulf Cooperation Council states being among the first to benefit”, Jenrick added.

GGC Citizens Will Soon Need an ETA to Visit the UK

Requirements to Visit the UK from GCC Countries

The ETA will replace the current requirement to apply for UK Electronic Visa Waiver (EVW). This is currently mandatory for nationals of the following GCC countries:

  • Bahrain
  • Kuwait
  • Oman
  • Qatar
  • Saudi Arabia
  • United Arab Emirates

In addition to adding Jordan to the ETA eligibility list, the British government has announced that more countries will be added to the program at a later date.

This is expected to include all foreign nationals who can currently visit the UK visa-free for short stays.

However, officials have confirmed that visa-exempt visitors will not need an ETA if they have:

  • A visa to enter the UK
  • Permission to live, work or study in the UK
  • A British or Irish passport

Additionally, legal residents of Ireland will not need a UK ETA if they are entering the United Kingdom from

  • Ireland
  • Isle of Man
  • Guernsey
  • Jersey

Nevertheless, all other visa-exempt citizens entering the UK from Ireland will also be required to have an approved ETA once the scheme is fully implemented in 2024.

Benefits of the UK ETA for GCC Nationals

The UK ETA will have several benefits for travelers from GCC countries.

Unlike the EVW, the ETA will be :

  • A multiple-entry travel authorization
  • Valid for 2 years from approval (or until the associated passport expires).

It will permit the holder to:

  • Stay in the UK for up to 6 months for tourist or business activities,or to visit friends and family
  • Remain for up to 3 months on the Creative Worker visa concession
  • Transit through the United Kingdom.

The online application for the ETA will be similar to the process of obtaining an EVW. Eligible nationals will be required to complete a simple electronic form, which will only take a few minutes to fill in.

They will also need to supply biometric data and answer a few security questions before paying the ETA fee and submitting the form. The ETA will then usually be processed within 3 working days (although it may take longer in some cases).

Like the EVW, the ETA will be electronically linked to the traveler’s passport, eliminating the need to print paper copies to present at border controls.

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