Contactless Digital Border: Electronic Travel Authorisation to Enter the UK

Contactless Digital Border: Electronic Travel Authorisation to Enter the UK

The British government reveals its plan to implement the Electronic Travel Authorisation scheme, which obliges visitors to apply for permission to visit the country, including EU tourists.

The new scheme intends to establish a ‘contactless’ border crossing from 2024, meaning that some passengers will be able to enter the country exempted from using an electronic passport gate or speaking to a Border Force officer.

Travellers will be subject to pre-screening, as the government says, enabling them to be identified at the border using the most recent technology.

“As Home Secretary, I have been focused on taking back control of our immigration system through my New Plan for Immigration. This includes ensuring we have a border that is fit for the 21st century, which allows travellers to get a visa and pass through the border easily while maintaining national security,”

Priti Patel

The new technology with facial recognition can make it possible for visitors to travel to the UK without having to undergo physical check-ups at the gate. The new rules will also require international travellers to provide biographic and biometric details, like photos of their faces, through the new Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) scheme before they travel.

How It Will Affect Travellers

As part of a plan to transform the UK Border Force, the Home Office intends to introduce a ‘Permission to Travel’ scheme from 2023. Everyone wishing to visit the UK will need permission before they travel.

The UK and Irish passport holders are exempted from such requirements, but everyone else will need to apply for a visa or ‘Electronic Travel Authorisation.’

All visitors who don’t currently need a visa to enter the UK, including those from the EU, will have to apply for an Electronic Travel Authorisation which reportedly costs around £18. 

The ‘Permission to Travel' is not a visa but will allow an individual to board a flight to travel to the UK. It will be similar to the US Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA).

The scheme will be on trial from March 2023 with visitors from Kuwait, Qatar, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Bahrain, before it is potentially introduced to all worldwide visitors by the end of 2023.

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