RIYADH: The UK has announced a new Electronic Travel Authorization scheme that will cost £10 ($12.44) for nationals of Jordan and Gulf Cooperation Council states.
“In June 2022, the UK introduced an Electronic Visa Waiver scheme, which allowed any Saudi citizen to apply for authorization to travel to Britain online,” British Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Neil Crompton told Arab News.
“This reflected the desire of both governments to strengthen people-to-people links between the two countries,” he added.
Also in June of 2022, the UK announced that under its new ETA scheme, rolling out in 2023, nationals from Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE will join Americans and Canadians in benefiting from visa-free travel through an electronic visa waiver.
“In February 2024, we will go one step further and introduce a new ETA scheme,” the ambassador said.
“Under this, applicants will be able to apply for a visa online that covers multiple visits over a two-year period. The cost will be just £10 per applicant. This will make it much easier and cheaper to travel.”
This ETA will allow visa holders to enter the UK multiple times over a two-year period and aims to make “travel to Britain cheaper and easier for visitors from the Gulf and Jordan,” as stated on gov.uk.
Previously under the EVW scheme, Gulf nationals had to pay £30 per visit to the UK and Jordanian nationals £100 for a visit visa.
The newly announced ETA aims to strengthen relations between the countries and contribute to Britain’s economy.
The scheme will be implemented for Qatari nationals later this year in October 2023 and for the rest of the GCC and Jordan in February 2024.
According to gov.uk, Gulf visitors are highly valuable to the UK economy, with over 790,000 of them spending £2 billion during their stays in the UK last year.
The process to apply is all-digital and requires applicants to upload a photograph of themselves and answer a set of suitability questions.
Earlier in 2023, the UK government announced plans to introduce a new ETA scheme as part of a digitization initiative for the UK border to further enhance security and customer experience.
In a statement, the UK Minister of State for the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia Lord Tariq Ahmad said: “I’m delighted that our partners across the Gulf and Jordan will be the first to benefit from the UK’s new Electronic Travel Authorization scheme. This scheme is further proof of the strong partnership between the UK and countries across the region.
“By cutting costs and visa requirements, the ETA scheme will ensure visitors from the Gulf states and Jordan can enjoy traveling with ease to the UK, boosting business and tourism links between our countries,” he added.