As the calendar flips closer to the program’s official launch later this year, the U.K. this week revealed the cost of its Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) visa waiver, its upcoming program that will require foreign travelers to pay a fee prior to entering the country.
The U.K. this week announced that the ETA will cost all foreign travelers £10, or around $12.65 US and $16.80 CAD, for two years.
The cost is more than what the E.U. plans to charge for its visa scheme, called the ETIAS, which will run 7 euros (around $7.40 US or $9.55 CAD) for three years. It is less than what the U.S. charges for its program, ESTA, which runs $21 US.
All foreign travelers will eventually need to pay the fee unless they have a British or Irish passport or a visa, or are entering from Ireland, Guernsey, Jersey, or the Isle of Man, but the U.K.’s plan is to roll out the requirements in waves depending on a traveler’s nationality.
Starting on Nov. 15, 2023, foreign nationals of Qatar will be required to pay the fee (applications will open on Oct. 25), and then starting on Feb. 22, 2024, those from Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the U.A.E., will be required to pay the fee.
The U.K. has yet to set the date for when Americans and Canadians will be required to pay the fee, but did say that “more nationalities will be added to the scheme later.”
In terms of how it will work, the plan is for airlines to be tasked with checking that all passengers have been approved prior to travel. Otherwise, they could be liable for a penalty charge.
The U.K. says that travelers will need to apply on the U.K. ETA app, or online on GOV.UK, and that they’ll be able to apply on behalf of others, so one member of a family or a group will be able to secure visas for the whole traveling party. The application will require travelers to put personal details, including passport information, into an application and then pay a small fee to be authorized for travel. The goal is to screen visitors before they arrive in the U.K.