The UK's new Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) scheme will begin to roll out from 25 October 2023, starting with Qatari nationals before gradually being introduced through 2024 for most nationals who do not currently need a visa to come to the UK.
As ever, holding an Irish passport makes you exempt from the requirements and if you have permission to live, work or study in the UK, or hold a current visa, you will not need an ETA either.
Applicants will be able to apply online or using an app. The Home Office is targeting decisions on straightforward applications within 3 working days. Successful applicants will receive a digital status linked to their passports - the advice is to make sure yours is valid for the life of your ETA (2 years).
Crucially, a valid ETA will not guarantee entry to the UK, so travellers will still need to pass through immigration control or e-gates.
We will be keeping a close eye on developments and expect Home Office guidance to be updated regularly as the scheme works through the beta phase. In the meantime, employers with staff travelling regularly on business should start to plan for the changes now to avoid business disruption.