Qataris will be among the first to access the new e-visa scheme for the UK starting October 2023.
A smart application is currently being developed by authorities in the UK to provide Qatari citizens with an online travel authorisation to enter the United Kingdom, the British envoy to Doha told reporters on Sunday.
By uploading the necessary documents and information, Qatari citizens can receive a UK entry permit valid for two years within minutes from the palm of their hands, Jon Wilks noted.
The Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) scheme was recently announced by the UK, with Qataris expected to be among the first to use it later this year.
“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,” the UK’s Home Secretary Priti Patel said last year.
“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,” she added.
In order to have a fully digital border by the end of 2025, a crucial component of the UK government’s plan is the brand-new ETA scheme.
According to reports, it will mostly apply to travellers passing through the UK or those visiting for short periods of time who do not now require a visa or do not own another UK visa.
The application process, according to the Home Office, is “straightforward,” and the programme 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.”
Those who obtain their ETA can use it several times over an extended period, authorities highlighted. This makes travelling more affordable and efficient from the GCC countries to the UK.
“The new system will make the process more speedy, flexible, and convenient and the entry permit could be issued within five minutes, valid for two years with multiple entries, and there is no need to come to the embassy,” Wilks added.
London and other parts of the UK have long been travel hotspots for millions of GCC nationals, especially Qataris.
According to Statista, around 1.2 million Gulf tourists visited the UK in 2019, spending £2.6 billion.