If you're planning a trip to the United Kingdom you should know you'll soon be required to fill out some extra paperwork and pay a fee before they'll let you in.
And no, it doesn't help if you're from a Commonwealth country like Canada or Australia.
The U.K. government is working on fully digitizing its borders and will introduce an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) that will affect all visitors, even those coming from visa-free places in the U.S., Canada, Australia and Europe.
According to the government website, the ETA will be fully operational by the end of 2023 and the U.K.'s borders will be fully digitized by 2025.
Once it's introduced, all international travellers will need permission to "enter or transit the U.K.," including those with visa-free nationalities.
While some details are still being finalized, here's what we know so far about the new ETA system.
What is the new ETA system in the United Kingdom?
The ETA system will screen visitors before they arrive in the United Kingdom.
The British government says it will be similar to the United States ESTA and the new digital visa waiver, ETIAS, that's being launched in the European Union in 2023.
The government says the ETA is not a visa and travellers from the U.S. and Canada will keep their visa-free status, but will still be required to get an ETA before travelling to the U.K.
The ETA will be for short visits only. People going to the U.K. to work or stay long-term will require a visa.
Will I need an ETA to travel to the United Kingdom?
The exact list of countries will be announced at a later time.
However, it's expected to include people from the U.S., Canada, Australia, and the European Union as well as other European countries like Norway, Switzerland and Monaco.
How long will the ETA be valid for?
Those details have yet to be announced.
However, the government website says it will likely be valid for at least two years and for multiple trips to Great Britain.
How do I get an ETA to travel to the UK?
Getting an ETA requires filling out an online form that can be done from home and will take about 10-15 minutes.
Travellers will need to give basic personal information, passport data and some security information.
To apply, you'll need a valid passport, your travel details, an email address and a credit or debit card.
The government says applications will be processed automatically and only complex decisions will have to be made by ETA officials.
How much will an ETA cost?
The cost for the ETA application has not been announced just yet, although the U.K. government says the ETA will be similar to the European Union's ETIAS so perhaps that means similar pricing as well.
That would mean you could be looking at a fee of about €7 ($7.50 USD/$10 CAD) per person.
This article's cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.