Muscat – The UK’s Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) scheme will open for all Gulf Cooperation Council and Jordanian nationals travelling to the country from February 22. Expansion of the scheme follows the successful launch for Qataris, who have been able to benefit since October 2023. 

ETAs replace Electronic Visa Waivers (EVW) and remove the visa requirement for short stays in the UK for GCC and Jordanian nationals.  

Nationals of Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain and Jordan can now make unlimited visits to the UK over a two-year period, or until the holder’s passport expires – whichever is sooner – for £10. Previously, GCC nationals paid £30 through the EVW scheme and Jordanians paid £115 for a single-use visitor visa. 

‘Gulf visitors are highly valuable to the UK economy, with almost 800,000 Gulf visitors spending £2bn during their stays in the UK in 2022,’ a press release stated.  

The ETA is part of the UK government’s transformation and digitisation of its border and immigration system, enabling an increasingly seamless customer experience in the future for legitimate visitors. 

James Cleverly, UK Home Secretary, said, “The ETA will improve the experience of travelling to the UK for the thousands of visitors from the Gulf and Jordan, who represent our second largest tourism market and contribute billions to the UK economy. The scheme is a vital step on our path to cementing the UK’s position as a world leader in border innovation and security.” 

Tariq Mahmood Ahmad, Minister of State for the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia, Commonwealth and United Nations at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, commented, “Our strong people-to-people links underpin our close partnership, and we all benefit from the boost to trade, education and tourism ties ETAs will bring.” 

The application process for an ETA is simple and fast to complete, with the process being entirely digital via a mobile phone app. Applicants need to provide biographic and biometric details and answer questions on suitability and criminality. Once individuals have successfully applied, their ETA is digitally linked to their passport.    

Decisions are usually to be made within three working days, however the majority are decided within hours. 

Patricia Yates, CEO of VisitBritain, said, “It is great to see the ETA scheme roll out to more Gulf nationals as well as for Jordanians, making travel to the UK easier, cheaper and more accessible for them. Combined with our strong airline connections, the scheme boosts our competitive tourism offer and our welcome to visitors.” 

The scheme will apply worldwide to those who do not currently need a visa to visit or transit through the UK or who do not hold a UK immigration status, including nationals from Europe and America.

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