UK allows visa-free entry to citizens of several Islamic countries

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UK allows visa-free entry to citizens of several Islamic countries

GCC residents will just need Electronic Travel Authorisation to enter UK from February next year

DNA

LONDON: The United Kingdom government has announced to grant visa-free entry to travellers from various Arab countries from February 22 next year onwards.

In a significant change to its visa policies, the UK intends to make entry easier for the residents of Jordan and all the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.

Citizens of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman, Jordan and Bahrain will not need visas for entry into the UK. They will just need an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) to enter the UK from February next year. Qatar’s residents travelling to the UK are already using ETA since November 15, 2023.

A statement released by the British government said the move towards an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) system is poised to simplify the entry process, doing away with the necessity of obtaining a visit visa.

Under this new system, tourists of all age groups will be required to electronically apply for a travel permit, priced at £10, which will then be issued for their travel purposes to last for two years. This strategic shift in visa regulations aims to streamline entry procedures, fostering smoother and more accessible travel for citizens of these nations intending to visit the United Kingdom.

Earlier this year, the UK government announced plans to introduce a new ETA scheme as part of a digitisation of the UK border by 2025 to further enhance border security and the customer experience.

An ETA is a digital permission to travel for those visiting or transiting through the UK who do not need a visa for short stays, or who do not currently hold another UK visa.

By cutting costs and visa requirements, the ETA scheme will ensure visitors from the Gulf states and Jordan enjoy travelling with ease to the UK, boosting business and tourism links between these countries, the UK govt said in a statement.

Gulf visitors are highly valuable to the UK economy, with over 790,000 Gulf visitors spending £2 billion during their stays in the UK in 2022.