Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) Scheme

The UK government introduced the Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) scheme to ensure the swift but safe assessment of travellers entering the UK. But what does this mean for you? How does the ETA scheme work?

The expert immigration solicitors at Latitude Law are here to help you navigate this route. With our support, you can apply for the scheme, ensuring that you understand your obligations and that your application is completed with the support and advice of legal professionals.

For more information, or to get your application started today, call us on 0044 161 234 6800 (for our Manchester office) or 0044 207 046 7185 (for our London office), or fill out an online contact form and we will be in touch at a time suitable for you.


What is the ETA Scheme?

The ETA scheme is a critical pre-screening process designed to enhance the security of UK borders by evaluating travellers before they arrive in the UK to ensure they meet specific entry criteria. By analysing travellers’ information – including their criminal record, passport details and UK immigration status – prior to travel, the government can assess any potential risks, resulting in a more efficient and secure entry process.

Failure to obtain an approved ETA when required can lead to denial of boarding or entry into the UK. Understanding and complying with the ETA scheme is essential for a hassle-free visit to the country, and our legal experts can help.

Who needs an ETA?

The requirement for an ETA primarily applies to visa-exempt nationals who intend to visit the UK for tourism, business meetings, or short studies. When applying for an ETA, it is essential to confirm whether you fall into this category, as requirements may vary based on nationality and purpose of visit.

How much does the ETA cost?

To apply for an ETA you must include a payment of £10.

Does an ETA affect visas?

It’s important to note that the ETA does not replace a visa. Travellers who are required to obtain a visa for their visit to the UK must still go through the usual visa application process. The ETA is an additional step for those eligible.

Who will the ETA be available to first?

The ETA will first be made available to visa-exempt nationals, intending to visit the UK for purposes like tourism, business meetings, or short studies. This includes nationals from specific countries that have visa exemption agreements with the UK. It’s important to refer to the official UK government website or consult with our legal experts for the most current and precise information, as eligibility criteria may evolve over time.

The introduction of the Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) scheme marks a significant change in the UK’s immigration process. Latitude Law’s expertise in immigration matters ensures that we can provide comprehensive guidance on the ETA, helping you navigate this new requirement with confidence.

Why is the UK introducing the ETA scheme?

The UK government’s goals with the ETA scheme is to enhance border management and maintain the integrity of the immigration system. The government aims to do this by identifying potential risks before travellers reach the UK. By analysing details submitted during the application process, the government can detect possible threats related to national security, public health, or illegal migration.

The digital nature of the ETA scheme allows for a more robust management of traveller data. It enables the government to keep accurate records, track trends, and make data-driven decisions related to immigration and border management.

On top of this, the pre-screening of travellers through the ETA enables the UK’s border authorities to process entries more efficiently. This is made possible by knowing in advance who is coming and their purpose of the visit. If it works as intended, the ETA should reduce waiting times and provide a more streamlined entry process for legitimate travellers.

In some ways, the ETA scheme simplifies travel for international visitors. By obtaining approval in advance, travellers can have a clearer understanding of their eligibility to enter the UK, reducing any uncertainty there may be about their trip.

How do I apply for an ETA to enter the UK?

Applying for an ETA may seem daunting at first, but Latitude Law is here to simplify the process for you. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how the application process typically works:

1. Determine eligibility: first, check if you need an ETA based on your nationality and the purpose of your visit. If you are uncertain about your eligibility, our solicitors can help you to find out.

2. Prepare the necessary documents: before starting your online application, ensure that you have all of the required documents readily available. These may include:

  • Valid passport
  • Travel itinerary
  • Accommodation details
  • Health-related information, if applicable

3. Complete the online application: access the official ETA application form on the UK government’s website. You will need to fill in personal details, passport information, travel plans, and other relevant information. Accuracy is crucial, as any mistakes or vague answers may lead to delays or denial of your application.

4. Pay the application fee: you must pay the fee of £10 with your ETA application. The payment can be made online using a credit or debit card, but may be done in cash if necessary. Our team can help you to arrange this.

5. Submit supporting documents: depending on your circumstances, you may be asked to provide additional supporting documents. Follow the instructions carefully, and provide clear and accurate information.

6. Receive confirmation: once your application is successfully submitted and processed, you’ll receive a confirmation, usually via email. It’s wise to keep a copy of this confirmation as you may need to present it during your travel.

7. Monitor application status: you can usually check the status of your ETA application online. If there are any issues or additional requirements, you may be notified.

Should you encounter any difficulties or require assistance at any stage of the application process, Latitude Law’s expert team is here to help. We can guide you through each step, ensuring a smooth and worry-free application.

How long does an ETA application take?

Applying for Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) to enter the UK is a relatively quick and straightforward process. However, the total time involved can vary depending on several factors.

The actual process of filling out the online ETA application can be done in around 15 minutes if you have everything you need to hand, a clear understanding of your travel plans, and a legal expert assisting you. If any additional supporting documents or information are required, it can add time to the process.

After submission, the processing time for the ETA application may vary. While many applications are processed quickly, it’s advisable to apply at least 72 hours before your planned travel to allow for any unforeseen delays or additional requirements.

Errors, inconsistencies or incomplete information in the application can lead to delays. Careful attention to detail during the application process can prevent these issues.

Our team can guide you through your application, ensuring that it’s completed accurately and efficiently.

Will I still need a visa to enter the UK?

The ETA does not replace a visa. If you are a national from a country that requires a visa to enter the UK, you must still go through the usual visa application process. The ETA scheme applies mainly to visa-exempt nationals for specific short visits.

If you are in doubt about whether you need a visa or ETA for your intended travel to the UK, seek expert legal advice. We can provide guidance tailored to your specific situation and ensure that you have the proper authorisation for your trip.

What happens if you are refused an ETA?

If your ETA application is refused, you will typically receive a notification explaining the refusal reason. This denial means you are not authorised to travel to the UK under the ETA scheme.

With your solicitor, carefully read the refusal notification to understand why the application was denied. Common reasons might include incomplete information, inconsistency with the details provided, or other specific concerns related to eligibility. Our immigration experts can help you understand the refusal and advise on what you may need to do next.

In some cases, if the refusal was due to an error or incomplete information, you might be able to reapply with corrected details. It is essential to ensure that the new application is accurate and complete to avoid a repeated refusal.

Depending on your nationality and purpose of travel, you may be able to apply for a traditional visa instead. This process may be more complex and would require careful attention to the specific visa requirements.

Does the ETA scheme apply to travellers from Northern Ireland?

The ETA scheme does not apply to travellers from Northern Ireland – its citizens are not subject to immigration controls within the UK, including the ETA scheme.

Travellers from Northern Ireland can continue to travel to and within other parts of the UK (England, Scotland, and Wales) using valid identification such as a driving licence or passport without needing an ETA or any other travel authorisation.

Does the ETA scheme apply to travellers from Ireland?

The ETA scheme does not generally apply to travellers from Ireland. The Common Travel Area (CTA) agreement between the UK and Ireland permits both British and Irish nationals to travel freely to, live in and work in the UK and Ireland without needing a visa or other travel authorisation such as an ETA.

How can Latitude help you with the UK Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) Scheme?

Our solicitors are well-versed in the intricacies of the UK’s immigration and travel authorisation systems, including the ETA scheme. We can help you understand whether you need an ETA or a visa, based on your nationality and purpose of travel, and guide you through the process, ensuring that all details are accurate and that you have the necessary supporting documents.

If your ETA application has been refused, we can assess the refusal reason, advise on the best course of action and assist with appeals or reapplications if appropriate.

We understand that every traveller’s situation is unique, and our team is committed to providing personalised guidance tailored to your specific needs.

Contact Us

Whether you are planning a trip to the UK, dealing with an ETA refusal, or navigating any other immigration-related challenges, contact Latitude Law, and our expert team will be glad to assist you with your specific needs. Call us today on 0044 161 234 6800 (Manchester) or 0044 207 046 7185 (London), or fill out an online contact form to arrange a callback at your convenience.

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All content on this page was reviewed by Latitude Law and is accurate as of 11/02/2019