Gulf Cooperation Council countries to be amongst the first to benefit from the ETA scheme in 2023 as the UK enhances its border security

• UK will remove the visa requirement for nationals of Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, UAE, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia who wish to visit the UK in 2023.

• All six GCC countries will move onto the Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) scheme when it rolls out in 2023.

• This will bring the requirements of Gulf nationals in-line with other key partners including the USA and Canada.

The UK government has announced that all Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states will move to Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) scheme from 2023, meaning citizens will not need a visa to visit the UK. The move will bolster UK security and improve border processes, making it easier for visitors from the region to visit the UK for business or tourism.

All six Gulf states – Qatar, UAE, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain – by moving to ETAs will become non-visa nationals, meaning they will not require a visa to visit the UK.

ETAs enhance the Government’s ability to screen travelers and stop those who pose a threat to the UK by ensuring everyone wishing to travel to the UK (except British and Irish citizens) has permission to do so in advance.

The ETA scheme is an important part of the UK Government’s move to a fully digital border by the end of 2025. It will broadly apply to passengers visiting or transiting through the UK who do not currently need a visa for short stays (for example, because they can already use the EVW scheme), or do not currently hold another UK visa. The ETA will not apply to students attending courses or other categories
of travelers who wish to visit the UK for longer than a short stay.

It is a straight-forward application process and will act as an additional security measure allowing the government to block threats from entering the UK, whilst also providing individuals with more assurance at an earlier point in time about their ability to travel. Once granted, an ETA will be valid for multiple trips over an extended period.

Home Secretary, Priti Patel said: “This move means that Gulf states will be among the first countries in the world to benefit from ETAs and visa-free travel to the UK.”

“Our number one priority is the security of the UK border and by launching ETAs we can ensure that everyone wishing to travel to the UK has permission to do so in advance of travel and refuse those who pose a threat.”

Prior to the introduction of ETAs in 2023, travelers from the Gulf can continue to use Electronic Visa Waivers which allows individuals to complete an online waiver for each visit to the UK.

British Ambassador, Belinda Lewis said: “Waiving the visa requirement for Kuwaiti nationals making short visits to the UK next year is fantastic news. It will bring our two countries even closer together, reflecting our longstanding bonds of friendship, trade and cooperation across a wide range of areas. With so many direct flights between Kuwait and the UK, including Kuwait Airways’ new route into Manchester, it will be easier than ever to keep in touch and enjoy the best that each country has to offer.”

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