This year, Australians will be charged a fee to enter the UK

The United Kingdom is now rolling out a new Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) visa waiver scheme.

By Staff Writers, January 12 2024
This year, Australians will be charged a fee to enter the UK

Australians headed to the UK later this year will find there’s a new form to fill out and a new fee to pay.

That form is called an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA), which acts as a ‘visa waiver’ – so it’s not technically an e-visa – and your application must be  approved before you get onto your flight to the UK, along the the same lines as the United States’ ESTA.

Under a staged introduction, the UK ETA is already required for visitors from Qatar, with other Gulf states – including  Oman, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – following in February.

It will then be rolled out worldwide through the year, with the ETA becoming a mandatory requirement for travellers from over 50 countries by the end of 2024.

Applying for an ETA using the UK ETA app...
Applying for an ETA using the UK ETA app...

The ETA will cost £10 (A$20), paid via a credit or debit card at the time of your online application – and while that’s no significant impost, it’s merely the fact that you’ll need to make sure you get your ETA before making your way to the airport which will probably catch many people out.

The ETA doesn’t replace a conventional visa – it’s intended primarily for tourism and business purposes.

How do you apply for the UK ETA?

Travellers will be able to apply for a UK ETA online through the UK Government website or the UK ETA app on their Apple or Android smartphone.

This involves

  • providing contact and passport details 
  • uploading a valid digital photo
  • answering a set of questions
  • and of course, paying that £10 fee with your credit or debit card

“Most applicants will receive a response within three working days”, the UK government advises, “with many receiving a result sooner” – so this is not something you should leave until the very last minute.

And if you turn up for your flight having forgotten to get an ETA in advance, don’t expect to be able to apply on your smartphone and get near-instant approval, as is sometimes the case with the US ESTA.

At least you won’t have to go through this rigmarole every time you visit the UK – each ETA will be valid for two years, covering multiple visits of up to six months each.

Click here for more information on the UK Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) visa waiver scheme.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 711

Too easy. 

Etihad - Etihad Guest

21 Jul 2019

Total posts 167

Really pity those folks who have to travel for urgent compassionate reasons (i.e. family emergencies, sickness, impending death) once this new money-grabbing impost kicks in. Currently you can drop everything at once and be on your way in a matter of hours, if you really needed to. Now, you might be kicking your heels for days on end waiting for a grey bureaucrat..........how is this supposedly 'seamless' travel? One bureaucratic hurdle gets eliminated - another one takes its place. Nothing really changes, fundamentally.

03 Nov 2023

Total posts 8

I just checked and Australia has a similar requirement for UK citizens visiting here. It costs $20 so similar price, however the approval is normally received immediately. Hopefully the UK ETA is similar rather than 3 days, which is a long time if you need to travel in an emergency.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

22 Aug 2015

Total posts 53

The USA ETSA is pretty much instant yes or it can take a few hours if they draw you out of the hat...

18 Sep 2018

Total posts 5

It's completely free for a UK passport holder to get an Aussie eVisitor (class 651). It usually comes through instantly and and it's valid for a year.

22 Jan 2019

Total posts 12

Most countries with a ETA system (as opposed to a Visa) like USA,Australia will nearly always issue an ETA or notify of unsuccessful application within a few hours of applying. Admittedly Australia and the US don't require a photo, so that may delay approval of a  GBR one depending on what needs to happen with the image.

03 May 2017

Total posts 22

well it does say "within 3 days"  not 3 days.  So thats just a way of saying dont whine to us if you dont get it straight away which clogs up customer service queues.

In any case,  anyone with such pending circumstances would usually know somewhat in advance, and can have the ETSA paid up and ready up to 2 years ahead of time.

Wont be long before most country has a similar requirement, so will be SOP for the the savvy traveller.

People don't always know in advance--several years ago, I had a phone call that my mother in UK had fallen and broken her femur.  At 86, the chances of recovery weren't good.  I was able to go into the travel agent and book a flight leaving the next day, didn't have to worry about a visa etc.  The hardest part was booking a flight to get home when I needed to stay longer.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Jul 2017

Total posts 10

That must have been quite stressful. In the future, anyone with a close connection to someone in the UK would be wise to keep a valid ETA at all times, renewing it every 2 years. People with a close enough connection to potentially need to travel at no notice are probably likely to visit the UK every 2 years anyway. Renewing it every 2 years, like a driver's licence or passport, is one more thing to do but a simple calendar reminder on your phone would help.

Etihad - Etihad Guest

21 Jul 2019

Total posts 167

Blake, in the real world we sadly can't predict strokes, seizures, sudden heart attacks, people falling and breaking femurs, house fires, car accidents, murders etc. etc. involving our loved ones. These are not '...pending circumstances' and we would NOT "....usually know somewhat in advance". That is the very nature of accidents and sudden illness(!) But if you have a crystal ball, please avail us whiners with your specialist services, for a fee.

03 Jun 2019

Total posts 27

Plus airlines can apply Australian ETA for the passengers at check-in counter and the response is almost instant (a service fee is charged by most airline as I understand in addition to the ETA fee). Not sure if the UK Gov would have something similar in return.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

06 Sep 2012

Total posts 232

Any idea when the ETAs will roll out? I'm planning a trip to the UK in April, I hope this doesn't become mandatory a day before we fly out and throw a spanner in the works...

25 Nov 2022

Total posts 2

Does anyone know how this will work for dual UK/AU citizens? 

I tend to book my travel using my AU passport since it's much easier when returning to breeze through customs with my AU passport and I don't think you can put 2 passport entries on one booking (afaik). Would I be able to just carry my UK passport along for the journey and use that at customs to avoid paying this fee, or will they be looking for this linked to the passport number on the travel booking and potentially block boarding if not provided in advance? 

What a stupid thing to roll out. I don't know why anyone would want to pay $20 to visit that dreary place. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

13 Jan 2018

Total posts 44

You leave and re-enter Australia on your Australian passport and enter and leave the UK on your UK passport. Airline check-in in Australia may take an extra 5 minutes because it will be "confusing".

I experience this when going to the US and check-in in Australia. I have US Global Entry associated with my UK passport but my ESTA with my Australian passport (when it expires, I'll only use the UK passport because of Global Entry).

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

13 Nov 2018

Total posts 107

I do the same thing. I have global with my UK passport, but I also have my USA ESTA on my British passport as well. Unfortunately I was silly and I put my Canada ESTA on my New Zealand passport… This makes it very confusing for check in agents. .

29 Aug 2014

Total posts 21

Transit pax also need these. BA hates this but can't do anything about it.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

13 Nov 2018

Total posts 107

Yes you can, it’s just difficult and you will need to show your other passport to the check-in agent. When you leave Australia, check in with your British passport. Go to the smart you gates with your Australian passport. Into the UK on your British passport. When leaving the UK show, both your Australian passport and your British passport to the check-in agent. Leave the UK with your British passport, and come back to the gates in Australia with your Australian passport. Every once in awhile, you may have a problem with the electronic gates, but this is rare. Australian and UK immigration offices are used to us having more than one passport.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer - Chairmans Lounge

01 Sep 2011

Total posts 412

In case I missed it somewhere, how long is each ETA valid for or do you have to do it every trip? The ESTA is a couple of years (from memory) and I think the European one will be similar when that comes in at the end of the year.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

22 Aug 2015

Total posts 53

So you still need a proper visa an now one of these ETS's ? Or would a proper visa trump it ? Its just a cash grab by the UK government...

12 Dec 2016

Total posts 8

If you have a visa, you don't need an ETA as well.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

13 Nov 2018

Total posts 107

I think you do. It is supposed to act as a pre-authorisation to travel. A Visa gives you permission to enter and stay for a particular time with particular restrictions.

29 Jan 2016

Total posts 25

I take it, Australians with duel passports Australian/British, do not need to apply?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

06 May 2012

Total posts 178

if you are transiting through heathrow straight to another country in the EU do you still need to get this?

12 Dec 2016

Total posts 8

Yes - according to the UK.gov website.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Jan 2016

Total posts 6

Will UK born Australian Citizens travelling on Australian passports need to apply for the UK ETA? 

As indicated in the article it appears to be a tourist tax rather than an actual visa. A bit excessive when Heathrow airport taxes are so expensive.

12 Dec 2016

Total posts 8

From the UK.gov website:

You do not need an ETA if you have either:

  • a visa
  • permission to live, work or study in the UK
  • a British or Irish passport

18 Jan 2017

Total posts 51

If you have a UK passport you would enter using the UK passport.

If you only have an Australian passport you will need to apply.

12 Jan 2024

Total posts 1

One would have expected that being part of the Commonwealth would avoid this process.

22 Jan 2019

Total posts 12

Why? UK citizens have required an ETA for Australia (and NZ  since  they introduced them)since their introduction and a visa prior to then.

16 Jul 2021

Total posts 4

Take great care that you're on the official site when applying for any of these online entry visas.  Using my phone I clicked on a scam site for a Singaporean entry visa which incurred a charge, when it should be free. It didn't complete, which made me realise my mistake, but the site had collected all my identity details, so I cancelled the debit card and also decided to apply for a new passport.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

17 Mar 2016

Total posts 43

I wonder what would happen if you enter the UK without one? Feasibly you could arrive in Dublin, then cross into Northern Ireland without any checks although technically in the UK. Followed by travelling across to Britain, again without formal immigration checks? 

29 Aug 2014

Total posts 21

ETAs are a PITA. From my experience as with the Canadian and Australian ETAs:

1. One more thing to tick off before departure. Especially when in a hurry.
1a. Hopefully UK system will be near-instant like AU and CA systems. As opposed to, Chilean and Brazilian systems which are punitive
1b. Hope they don't insist on smarty-pants features like NFC reading and population of data by scanning data page - HKSAR passports cannot be NFC read by iPhones and Androids (need immigration desks), and the data page isn't optimised for OCR (<-- my missus's 2023 Australian ETA had to be applied twice)

2. Screws over dual nationals:
2a. e.g. Canada: if you had their passport and have not renounced, you need to travel on their passport. Even if it's not current. Meaning - you have renew your Canadian passport to return to Canada.  Before ETA requirement, you may get by with returning on foreign passport. But now you can't get an ETA issued on it.
2b. Name issues. If your name isn't the same across all docs then that screws up OLCI - you need to spend more time unconfusing check-in desk agents (see 2(c)).
2c. I never get which document to present. I was travelling from HK to South America as HKSAR, then further travelling to Australia (spending the night in Sydney) before returning to HK. You would have thought QF would only need my Australian passport, as I have no ETA and do not need one. No, QF (own staff) check-in desk in SCL asked for my entry passport. Even though Chilean exit immigration (this was the Business desk) is right next door.

Jetstar Airways - Qantas Frequent Flyer

24 Aug 2018

Total posts 110

I am fortunate to have a ninety year old sister in the Netherlands and currently the quickest way to Amsterdam is Melbourne, Perth and LHR. If this system is not in place in Jan. 2024, it might be nice to know when it will be available.

06 Mar 2020

Total posts 4

I've had a look on their website and can't see what date it is going to kick in for Australians.  I don't have a problem paying for visa's or ETA's but am surprised that babies have to have an ETA, as also do people in transit. That sounds like revenue raising to me.   I'll be heading to the UK in July this year. I just hope they open it to Australians either before July or after July, as I fly out on the 2nd.

16 Oct 2012

Total posts 45

We share the same head of state, yet don’t share reciprocal entry arrangements. Madness perhaps, or maybe a nudge for us reconsider divesting ourselves of the old dart ;)

Air Canada - Aeroplan

28 Feb 2015

Total posts 111

I suppose people are aware that one can get one's passports linked, which seems to save a lot of hassle at airports when leaving the country on one passport and travelling to another country on their passport. The service desk of your airline at the airport can do this for you in about 10 minutes.

14 Jan 2024

Total posts 2

I've done this in the past but the process doesn't seem to be widely advertised or documented online.

22 Jan 2019

Total posts 12

ETAs are a (nother) method of getting travellers data including passport details prior to check in, although those details maybe incorrect, which is probably why the UK  will require an image of the passport to be provided as well. PNR data supplied by airlines is  notoriously iffy when it comes to all bio details being supplied until the check in swipe of the passport, to allow proper assesment and response for the few poeple of interest.

Just like us and many other countries if there is a Visa/ETA requirement then every passport holder requires one. 

14 Jan 2024

Total posts 2

I wonder how many people know that Australia invented this system and has been requiring most foreign nationals to apply for ETAs since 1996.  Europeans get a free version - the eVisitor visa but that was just a compromise so the EU considered travel to Australia to be visa free for most EU citizens.

Jetstar Airways - Qantas Frequent Flyer

07 Jun 2018

Total posts 3

The USA must have replicated their ETA from Australia? The US ETA costs $14, it lasts for two years, and is all done online. So why should we care. Two beers, Three coffees...It is small price for the UK to catchup with the rest of the world...lucky my last visit was in Oct 23 so wil lavoid for now....

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 566

Almost feels like visa application paperwork and a charge (admittedly a relatively small one compared to a real visa) for a visa free travel…


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