The UK Government has made a significant change to visit visa requirements. It is for citizens of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states and Jordan. They have announced the removal of visit visa requirements for nationals from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, and Jordan. These citizens will now have the option to obtain an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) for just £10 ($12). The ETA will be valid for two years. This change brings the entry requirements for Gulf travelers and Jordanians in line with citizens from the US and Australia.
Previously, GCC nationals had to apply for a £30 ($37) document for each visit to the UK. The official UK government website made the announcement. It states that nationals from the GCC states and Jordan will only need to pay £10 to apply for an ETA. This ETA will allow them to make multiple visits to the UK within a two-year period.
Currently, Gulf nationals pay £30 per visit under the Electronic Visa Waiver (EVW) scheme. Whereas, Jordanian nationals pay £100 for a visit visa. The new scheme will first launch for Qatari nationals in October 2023. The rest of the GCC states and Jordan will follow it in February 2024. It is expected to expand worldwide throughout 2024.
Earlier this year, the UK government announced plans to introduce the ETA scheme as part of its digitization efforts. These efforts are to enhance border security and improve the customer experience by 2025.
An ETA is a digital permission to travel for visitors or transit passengers who do not require a visa for short stays or do not currently hold another UK visa.
Lord Ahmad, Minister of State for the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia, expressed his delight regarding the new ETA scheme and emphasized the strong partnership between the UK and countries in the region. He highlighted that by reducing costs and visa requirements, the ETA scheme will facilitate seamless travel for visitors from the Gulf states and Jordan, enhancing business and tourism links between the countries.
Gulf visitors play a vital role in the UK economy, with over 790,000 visitors contributing £2 billion ($2.5 billion) during their stays last year.
The application process for an ETA will be simple and fast, completed entirely through a mobile phone app. Applicants will need to provide biographic and biometric details, including a digital photograph, and answer suitability questions. For additional news and details regarding the new ETA scheme, please visit the official UK Home Office website.