Everything you need to know about visa-free travel to the UK for GCC nationals in 2023

Last month, Britain’s Home Office announced that by 2023, Gulf Corporation Council countries will be able to travel to the United Kingdom without a visa, making them the first batch of countries to benefit from the new Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) visa. scheme.

Al Arabiya English spoke with an immigration expert based in the United Arab Emirates to weigh what the new scheme will include and what it will mean for GCC nationals.

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“The UAE is one of the UK’s most important trading partners in the region. With the signing of the Partnership for the Future and the Sovereign Investment Partnership last year, the UAE and the UK continue to strengthen cooperation in various areas, and in giving the UAE greater access to the UK through Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) system, this will further strengthen the economic and diplomatic relations between the two countries, ”said Nazar Musa, CEO of PRO Partner Group.

Under the new scheme, citizens from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar, and Bahrain will be eligible for visa-free travel to the UK by 2023, which Musa hopes will be live by the end. of 2022.

“Currently, and prior to the introduction of the ETA system in 2023, citizens from Gulf countries use the Electronic Visa Waiver system, which is completed online before they plan to visit the UK. The Electronic Visa Waiver must be completed for each trip, ”Musa explained.

He added that the ETA scheme would be more straightforward.

“The ETA scheme is an important part of the UK government’s move to have a fully digital border by the end of 2025. It will be widely applied to passengers visiting or traveling to the UK who currently do not require a visa for short stays, or will not hold another UK visa, and will now be extended to citizens from certain countries. ”

The ETA system can be used to meet all travel requirements of GCC nationals, including tourism, business, or for educational purposes.

Once granted, the ETA will be valid for many trips to the UK over a long period of time, although exact time frames have not yet been confirmed.

“The decision is expected to strengthen the UK as a strong tourist destination for the Emiratis and improve bilateral trade between the two countries.”

The Home Office’s decision will bring the requirements of Gulf country nationalities in line with those of other major UK partners such as the US and Canada.

The ETA scheme is an important part of the UK government’s move to have a fully digital border by the end of 2025. It will be widely applied to passengers visiting or traveling to the UK who currently do not require a visa for short stays, or do not. hold another UK visa.

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