The U.K. government is implementing a new travel authorization system that will charge travellers from certain countries a fee to enter, and it’s set to include those from Canada.
The U.K.’s Electronic Travel Authorization will require visa-exempt travellers to apply for digital travel authorization before entering the country.
According to reports, the change is being regarded as “the biggest shake-up” of the U.K.’s border rules in decades.
The government says that similar to other international travel authorizations, the ETA will help to strengthen the U.K.’s border by “ensuring robust security checks are conducted on every visitor pre-travel.”
This will help the country prevent “dangerous individuals,” from entering.
While the system will be in effect for some countries starting in 2023, it will be fully rolled out by the end of 2024, the government says.
While the full list of countries the ETA will apply to will be announced later, it’s expected that Canada will be affected, as Canadians currently don’t need a visa to visit the U.K.
Who needs a U.K. ETA?
The ETA is a requirement for people who do not need a visa to travel to the U.K., or England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Therefore, you won’t need the ETA if you possess a British or Irish passport, have permission to live, work or study in the U.K., or require a visa to enter.
The ETA is meant to cover a stay of six months or less and will cover tourism, visiting family or friends, transiting through the country, business and short-term studying.
It will be valid for two years, during which time travellers can make multiple visits to the U.K.
How do I apply for a U.K. ETA?
According to the government, travellers will need to apply via the U.K. ETA App, or online at gov.uk.
You’ll need to provide some biometric details (which could include an image of your face, for example) and answer a set of questions to determine your suitability.
The application process is meant to be quick and entirely digital — travellers will usually get a decision on their application within three business days, or sooner.
However, the government notes that it may take longer than three days if further checks are required.
How much is an ETA for Canadians travelling to the U.K.?
The exact cost of the ETA has yet to be confirmed. However, the U.K. government says the cost of the ETA will be in line with “similar international schemes.”
One such system is the European Travel Information and Authorization System, or ETIAS, which is set to cost 7 euros (or around $10) for each application.
The U.K.’s ETA may also be similar to the U.S. government’s Electronic System for Travel Authorization, or ESTA, which costs $21.
As the system isn’t expected to be rolled out in Canada in the coming months, there may still be time to work in a U.K. vacation and avoid paying it.
Before you get going, check out our Responsible Travel Guide so you can be informed, be safe, be smart, and most of all, be respectful on your adventure.