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The UK is one of the most popular European destinations for Americans and Canadians, not only because of the language, but also because of its deep cultural and historical ties; after all, North America was settled mainly by the British.
Although they will continue to be welcome in the UK in the future, tThe country is set to change its entry rules from 2024affecting all foreign visitors, including US and Canadian passport holders traveling as short-term tourists.
But how exactly is travel to Britain changing, and what can you expect as a visitor?
Everything you need to know about the new UK entry rules
Starting in 2024, the UK will finally launch its Electronic Travel Authorization (alternatively written Authorization in British variants of English), or ETA, a new entry permit applicable to all foreigners who currently enjoy visa-free access to the country.
Essentially, unless they hold a valid ETA, Americans and Canadians will not be able to board UK-bound flights. The simple fact of carrying a valid passport and presenting it at the check-in counter will allow you to it’s not enough anymore.
Why is the UK tightening entry rules and why are Americans and Canadians specifically affected?
First, electronic travel authorizations are it’s not new. They’ve been around for years, and although many Americans don’t know it, their own country requires a similar document for Brits, Europeans, and various other foreign nationals.
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British citizens are prohibited from flying to the United States unless they carry a pre-approved ESTA, just like their European counterparts. Canada is no differenthaving launched its own ETA after the implementation of the State’s own system years ago.
Travel authorizations are also common in Australia, New Zealand and across Asia, although the UK has never enforced them, until now.
When will the travel authorization be implemented?
As of 2024, the « biggest » overhaul of Britain’s immigration system that the UK Home Office has carried out « in several decades » is ready to take placebringing the country in line with its western counterparts.
The British ETA is only A series of measures aimed at strengthening the country’s external borders, including maintaining tight controls between Britain and the European Union, more conservative anti-immigration rhetoric and less generous asylum policies.
It’s an added hurdle for sure, but it’s worth noting that it’s by no means a visitor’s visa. An ETA is much simpler to applyas you will know if you have ever traveled to a country where similar systems exist.
Unlike visas, which require you to submit documentation, attend an interview, pay a hefty fee, and surrender your passport, an ETA is a streamlined online form that is easily completed in less than ten minutes or less, asking you a series of personal questions and your passport number.
Travel authorizations are issued. almost instantly Also, directly to your email, and Britain’s will be no different.
According to the Home Office, we should actually see this as good news, as it will ‘speed up’ the process of visiting the UK and ensure that those who pose a threat are refused entry.
This may refer to individuals with significant criminal histories who may pose a hazard to the publicterrorists and non-residents who had overstayed a tourist visa previously.
Other important information
The application fee is only £10 (Sterling), or approximately US$13, being in fact much cheaper than the ESTA from the States ($21).
US and Canadian citizens will only need to apply for ETA once every two yearsand as long as they have a current permit, they can make multiple trips to the UK as long as each stay does not exceed the permitted six months.
Americans and Canadians are expected to still be able to use the eGate lanes reaching the main entry points of Great Britain.
This means they can continue to scan your passport when entering the UK without speaking to border agents, but you will be denied boarding unless they present a valid ETA, or they may face criminal charges if they ever manage to reach the UK border and cross without a valid ETA.
The exact launch date of the ETA has not yet been revealed, although the citizens of Qatar, then the Gulf countries and the Kingdom of Jordan will already be subject to the new entry rules from October this year and February 2024, respectively.
Global rollout is scheduled for the end of 2024.
ETA will change the UK border system forever
According to Cara Aikman, senior technology product manager, ETA received « good reviews » during early testing in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, and the developers used much of what they learned to « inform future modifications » to ensure the user experience is as good as can be.
Project manager Vikki Lacey said the service will make business and leisure travel easier, cheaper and more efficient, and is expected to be popular with travelers in the region.
Applicants who are denied an ETA for any reason, despite coming from visa-exempt countries, may be required to apply for a visa at a British consulate in their home country or country of residence, or for a single-entry e-Visa, if they qualify under the e-Visa Waiver scheme.
Friendly advice – Fill out your form carefully so as not to receive a refusal.
ETIAs will apply not only to Canadians and Americans, but also to any foreigner who is currently exempt from applying for a visa to visit the UK, including citizens of the European Union (except Ireland), Mexico, Malaysia, Japan, Brazil, Chile, Australia, New Zealand and several others.
In possession of a valid ETA, tourists are free to travel through the historic nations of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Those who need a tourist visa to enter the UK do not qualify for an ETA and must apply for a full visa at a British consulate.
Traveling to Northern Ireland
The Republic of Ireland does not currently carry out immigration checks along the land border with the United Kingdom in Northern Ireland, and is not expected to introduce a similar travel authorization system any time soon.
Despite the absence of border controls between Ireland and Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom, tourists are strongly discouraged of trying to visit Northern Ireland without having an ETA, as they would then be in violation of UK immigration law and could face consequences if caught.
traveler alert: Don’t forget travel insurance for your next trip!
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com