The United Kingdom has officially opened its Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) scheme for Qatari nationals, marking a significant step in transforming and digitizing the UK border for enhanced convenience and efficiency in travel.
As of today, Qatari nationals planning a trip to the UK must obtain an ETA, highlighting the UK government’s commitment to providing a seamless experience for millions of legitimate visitors.
The ETA application process for Qatari citizens commenced on October 25, 2023, with the majority opting for the user-friendly mobile app, ensuring a swift and straightforward application procedure.
Last year, the UK welcomed nearly 800,000 visitors from the Gulf, including 45,000 from Qatar. This number is expected to rise in the coming years, reflecting the growing ties between the UK and Qatar.
Jon Wilks CMG, His Majesty’s Ambassador to the State of Qatar, expressed delight in announcing the official opening of the ETA scheme for Qatari nationals. He emphasized that this initiative not only streamlines the travel process for Qataris visiting the UK but also underscores the strength of the bilateral relationship, fostering connections between the two nations.
The ETA requirement will extend to nationals from Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan starting from February 22, 2024. Applications for ETAs for these countries can be submitted from February 1, 2024.
The ETA system replaces the current Electronic Visa Waivers (EVW), offering an enhanced and more cost-effective solution. Priced at £10, the ETA allows unlimited visits to the UK over two years or until the passport expires, whichever comes first. This shift to the ETA scheme eliminates the visa requirement for short stays in the UK for nationals from the Gulf and Jordan.
During the application process, applicants are required to provide biographic and biometric information, answering questions related to suitability and criminality. This rigorous process ensures the safety and security of the UK, preventing individuals who pose a threat from entering the country. Successful applicants will have their ETA digitally linked to their passport.
Although the standard processing time for an ETA application is three working days, the majority have been decided within hours, emphasizing the efficiency of the new system.
VisitBritain CEO, Patricia Yates, expressed enthusiasm for the Qatari visitors benefiting from the ETA scheme, highlighting its role in making travel to the UK more accessible, affordable, and flexible. Yates looks forward to the scheme extending to more Gulf nationals from February 2024, further strengthening tourism ties between the UK and the Gulf region.
To ensure the seamless implementation of the ETA scheme, the UK government is collaborating closely with global airline, maritime, and rail carriers, recognizing their pivotal role in the scheme’s successful delivery.
The ETA scheme represents a pivotal moment in the evolution of the UK’s travel authorization processes, enhancing the experience for visitors and fostering closer ties between the UK and countries in the Gulf region. As the scheme unfolds, the UK government plans to expand its application to other nationalities in due course.
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