The proposed scheme, called the Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA), will require visitors from countries outside the European Union to apply for permission to enter the UK before they travel. The ETA will be similar to the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) used by the United States.
According to the government’s announcement, the ETA will “strengthen the UK’s ability to prevent and control the spread of COVID-19 and other viruses and variants”. The system will also improve the government’s ability to identify potential security threats and ensure that only those who pose no risk to the UK are allowed to enter the country.
Under the proposed scheme, travellers will be required to provide their personal details and travel information, including their passport details, the purpose of their visit, and their accommodation details. The application process will be online, and travellers will receive a decision within minutes.
The ETA will be introduced in phases, with the first phase planned to begin in 2024. The scheme will initially be voluntary, with visitors from certain countries required to apply for an ETA before they can enter the UK. However, the government has stated that it may become mandatory for all visitors in the future.
The introduction of the ETA has been welcomed by some, who believe that it will help to strengthen the UK’s borders and improve security. However, others have raised concerns about the potential impact on tourism and the additional costs and administrative burdens that may be placed on travellers.
In response to these concerns, the government has stated that the ETA will be “simple and straightforward” to apply for, and that the cost will be “reasonable”. The government has also stated that the scheme will be regularly reviewed and updated to ensure that it remains effective and efficient.
Overall, the government’s announcement of the ETA scheme represents a significant step towards strengthening the UK’s borders and enhancing security measures, and will likely have a major impact on international travel to and from the country in the years ahead.