As part of its New Plan for Immigration, the UK has announced the introduction of Electronic Travel Authorisations (ETAs) for visitors and transit passengers who do not currently need a visa to travel to the UK for short stays.
This is similar to the system in place in other countries; the US has an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), and Canada has ETA, which requires travellers, including UK citizens, to obtain authorisation prior to travel to the destination country. This works as a security measure for the destination country to know in advance who is arriving on their border, just as it works as surety for the traveller to know in advance that they will be allowed to enter the destination country.
ETA is electronically linked to the passport you used to apply for ETA. Should you obtain a new passport, you will need to apply for a new ETA. Airline check-in staff and the Border Force will have electronic access to your ETA status using your passport.
The UK is to begin work with selected air carriers for those passengers who currently travel with an Electronic Visa Waiver with a view to begin initial testing by autumn 2021.
UK’s ETA scheme is expected to be fully implemented by the end of 2024, and the UK expects to process up to 30 million ETA applications per year. The process for granting an ETA application will be largely automated, with the exception of complex cases, where decisions will be taken by trained officers.