The United Kingdom will remove the visa requirement for Gulf Corporation Council state nationals wishing to visit the country in 2023, making them the first countries to benefit from the UK’s new visa scheme, the Home Office said in a statement on Monday.
The United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar, and Bahrain will move onto the UK’s new Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) scheme when it’s rolled out in 2023.
This will bring the requirements of Gulf country nationals in line with other key partners including the US and Canada.
“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,” said the UK’s Home secretary Priti Patel.
“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.”
Before the introduction of ETAs in 2023, travelers from Gulf countries can continue to use Electronic Visa Waivers which can be completed online before their visit to the UK.
The ETA scheme is a key part of the UK government’s move to have 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, or do not hold another UK visa.
The Home Office said that the application process is “straight forward” and that the scheme 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 is valid for multiple trips over an extended period of time.
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