Unlocking Travel: ETA and ETIAS Explained – What's in Store for 2024?

ETA and ETIAS new Rules
  • 8 minutes
  • Oct 01, 2023

Travel regulations to Europe, UK, and Canada have experienced significant changes in recent years. Travelers from visa-exempt nations must now get travel authorizations before entering these nations thanks to the implementation of the Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) and the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS). This article seeks to give readers a thorough overview of ETA and ETIAS, as well as information on who should apply, how to apply, and what to anticipate in the future.

ETA: Exploring the UK and Canada’s Electronic Travel Authorization

Who needs an ETA to enter the UK?

In 2024, the UK plans to implement an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) for non-visa nationals, including citizens from various European Union (EU) countries and other European nations like Andorra, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland, and Vatican City. Additionally, visitors from countries such as Australia, Brazil, Canada, Japan, Singapore, and the United States will also need an ETA to enter the UK. The specific list of qualifying nations is still pending confirmation by the British Home Office. This ETA requirement aims to enhance travel security and is set to be introduced next year.

Purpose and eligibility of an ETA

For eligible passport holders traveling to the UK for business or tourism, the ETA is an essential necessity. It is anticipated to simplify the admission procedure and allow visitors to take in the cultural history of the UK, see family who live there, or partake in a variety of other activities. Additionally, a short-term study permit or medical treatment may be eligible for an ETA. However, a suitable visa must be obtained from a British embassy or consulate if you intend to work or reside in Britain for an extended period of time.

Applying for an ETA

The procedure of obtaining an electronic travel authorization is simple and quick, and must be done online. A valid national biometric passport, travel information, an active email address, and a credit or debit card for payment are required of applicants. The online application form must be completed carefully because any mistakes could cause delays or the ETA to be rejected. Applicants will receive a response through email within 48 to 72 hours of their application being received. Holders of approved ETAs are permitted to stay in the UK for up to 180 days (6 months) and make multiple trips throughout the nation.

The future of ETA and digitalized borders

The UK intends to completely digitize its borders by 2025, and the ETA is a part of that strategy. When arriving at the border, ETA holders will only need to scan their passports in order for the entrance permit to be electronically confirmed. This will replace the current paper-based procedures. This technology development intends to improve border security and speed up the admission procedure for travelers, giving them a more comfortable trip.

GCC nationals and ETA

The UK ETA is a digital travel authorization that GCC nationals will now require to travel to the United Kingdom. This new system replaces the EVW and streamlines the entry process for eligible individuals. It acts as an additional security measure while providing travelers with more assurance about their ability to travel to the UK.

GCC passport holders are the first nationalities to benefit from the UK ETA. This travel authorization allows them to visit the UK without the need for a visa. The UK Home Secretary, Priti Patel, expressed that the implementation of the ETA system will enable Gulf states to enjoy visa-free travel to the UK, making them among the first countries to benefit from this convenient travel solution.

The UK ETA will be introduced in phases. Initially, it will be available to nationals of Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. However, the system will later be extended to citizens of other visa-exempt countries, including European Union member states.

Application Deadlines

Specific application deadlines have been established for GCC countries. Travelers from Qatar will require an ETA for visits to the UK from November 15, 2023, with applications opening on October 25, 2023. For citizens of Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, the ETA requirement will come into effect on February 22, 2024, with applications opening on February 1, 2024.

Electronic Travel Authorization for Canada

The Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) is an entry requirement for visa-exempt foreign nationals traveling to Canada by air. It is an electronic document that is linked to the traveler’s passport and is valid for a maximum of five years or until the passport expires, whichever comes first. The ETA allows travelers to visit Canada for short stays, typically up to six months at a time.

Who Needs an ETA?

There are four types of travelers who may require an ETA to travel to Canada:

  1. Visa-exempt foreign nationals: Travelers from countries that are exempt from requiring a visa to enter Canada by air need an ETA. However, if they are arriving by car, bus, train, or boat, including cruise ships, they do not need an ETA.
  2. Select visa-required countries: Citizens of select visa-required countries may be eligible to apply for an ETA instead of a visa when traveling to Canada by air. However, they still need a visitor visa if arriving by land or sea.
  3. Canadian citizens and permanent residents: Canadian citizens, including dual citizens, and Canadian permanent residents do not need an ETA. They need a valid Canadian passport or a permanent resident card.
  4. Travelers exempt from the ETA requirement: U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents of the United States are exempt from the ETA requirement but must carry proper identification, such as a valid U.S. passport or proof of status.

How to Apply for an ETA?

To apply for an ETA for travel to Canada, follow these steps:

  1. Visit the official Government of Canada website for ETA applications.
  2. Fill out the online application form with personal details, passport information, and travel information.
  3. Pay the ETA fee, which is currently CAD $7, using a credit or debit card.
  4. Submit the application and wait for the approval, which is usually received via email within minutes. In some cases, additional documents may be requested, which could prolong the processing time.

It is recommended to apply for an ETA before booking your flight to Canada to avoid any travel delays.

You can learn more by visiting the official Government of Canada website.

ETIAS: Understanding European Travel Information and Authorization System

Who needs an ETIAS to enter Europe?

Beginning in 2024, visitors from more than 60 visa-exempt nations will need a travel authorization known as the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) in order to enter most European nations. Although the whole list of nations has not yet been determined, it is anticipated that before traveling to Europe, citizens of a number of nations—including the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan, and many others—will be required to obtain an ETIAS.

Purpose and implications of ETIAS

The ETIAS travel authorization is intended to improve border management and security within Europe. Authorities will be able to pre-screen visitors and collect crucial data prior to their arrival, providing a safer and more effective entrance process. Travelers may visit as many European nations as they like throughout the permitted time frame because to the ETIAS’s multiple entry and short-term validity. It’s crucial to keep in mind that an ETIAS is not a visa, so some passengers, including those looking for long-term employment or residency, will still need to apply for the proper visa.

Application Process:

The ETIAS application process is straightforward and can be completed entirely online. Here are the steps involved:

  1.  Visit the Official Website: Start by visiting the official ETIAS website. This website provides all the necessary information and resources to guide you through the application process.
  2.  Fill in the Application Form: You will need to provide personal information such as your full name, date of birth, nationality, passport details, and contact information. Ensure that all the information provided is accurate and matches your travel documents.
  3. Answer Health and Security Questions: The application form will include questions related to your health and security. These questions are designed to assess any potential risks associated with your travel to Europe.
  4. Pay the Processing Fee: Once you have completed the application form, you will be required to pay a processing fee of €7. This fee can be paid using a credit or debit card.
  5.  Receive the ETIAS Authorization: After submitting your application and payment, the system will process your request. In most cases, the approval will be granted within minutes. You will receive the ETIAS authorization via email, which you need to print and carry with you during your trip.

Exceptions and exemptions

There are several exclusions and exemptions, even though most visitors from nations without visa requirements will need to apply for an ETIAS. People who have valid Schengen visas, residency permits, or long-term visas issued by EU or Schengen Area nations, for instance, or who are nationals of those countries, will be exempt from the ETIAS requirement. 

Travelers must remain knowledgeable about the prerequisites and procedures needed to visit other countries as the rules of travel are constantly changing. The ETA and ETIAS systems have been put in place to improve security and speed up the admission procedure for visitors to the UK and Europe, respectively. Travelers can make sure that their trip is easy and hassle-free by being aware of the objectives, requirements, application procedure, and long-term repercussions of these travel authorizations.