Think of it as a cover charge to one of the most historic clubs in the world.
The United Kingdom (England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland) has set a date for the launch of its previously announced Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) entrance fee for international visitors.
Visitors from Qatar will need the authorization starting November 15, 2023, with many Middle Eastern nationalities set to follow in February 2024.
Much of the rest of the world will be added to the program by the end of 2024, the U.K.'s government projects.
Applying and paying for an ETA must be done in advance via an official ETA app (which hasn't been released yet) or at Gov.UK, the United Kingdom's government website.
ETAs will be automatically linked to your passport.
Everyone—including babies—will have to possess an ETA, which will last for 2 years unless your passport expires earlier.
Although authorizations to enter will last that long, the length of time you're allowed to remain in the country on each visit will still depend on your circumstances. Foreign tourists are typically granted Standard Visitor visas, which allow for stays up to 6 months at a time.
The price of the UK's ETA will be £10, currently equivalent to about US$12.60.
If you're bristling about the nerve those British bureaucrats have, temper your temper. Entry fees are common worldwide. The United States also charges visitors for travel authorization via a program known as ESTA, and it costs more: $21 for 2 years.
That's nothing—Mexico charges you as much as $65 just to leave.
Now that the United Kingdom has separated itself from the European Union, visitors who plan European tours that include the U.K. will need to remember to arrange for authorizations for both, once those programs are up and running.
For more information, consult the Gov.UK page on the matter. The site will be updated as more aspects of the process come into force.
It so happens, by the way, that Frommer's brand-new England & Scotland guide will be published in November, giving you time to fit in one last trip to Britain before the cover charge takes effect.