By the end of 2024, travelers will have to complete an online application and pay an entry fee to visit the United Kingdom, the nation's government has announced.
The U.K.'s new Electronic Travel Authorisation (deeply sorry about that British spelling) will be required of all international visitors from countries whose citizens don't otherwise need special visas to enter England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
Visa-exempt nations include the United States as well as Canada, Mexico, Australia, European Union member states, and several dozen other countries across the globe. People from all those places will need to apply for the new digital waiver—and pay the entry fee—to set foot in the U.K.
Similar to the USA's already existing Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), the U.K.'s ETA system is designed to screen potential foreign visitors to verify that they are indeed exempt from visas and may enter the country.
The European Union plans to roll out its own digital visa waiver, the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS), in 2024. Having left the EU, the U.K. will not be included in that program.
Applying for the U.K.'s ETA must be done via the yet-to-launch ETA app or at Gov.UK and should only take a few minutes.
Applicants will need to provide passport information, travel details, a valid email address, and other bits of personal data. The fee will be £10 ($12.60) per applicant.
Every traveler will need an authorization—even children and babies.
Once the system gets up and running, you should expect to hear back via email about whether you've received ETA approval or not within 3 days of submitting your application.
Your ETA will remain valid for 2 years. If your passport expires during that time, however, you'll need a new ETA. For most tourists, each stay in the U.K. can't exceed 6 months.
Upon arrival in the U.K., ETA holders will only need to scan their passports at machines to verify ETA status. The entry permit will be digital and its verification electronic.
The ETA system will launch for travelers from Qatar in November, with several Middle Eastern nationalities to follow in February 2024.
The plan is to roll out the requirement for much of the rest of the world, including the United States, by the end of 2024.
We'll keep you posted.