London: In a notable policy change, the United Kingdom government has declared visa-free entry for traveler’s from various Arab countries, effective from February 22, 2023. This move aims to facilitate easier entry for residents of Jordan and all Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nations.
Starting February 22, 2023, citizens of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman, Jordan, and Bahrain will not require visas for entry into the UK. Instead, an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) will be sufficient. Qatar’s residents have been using ETA since November 15, 2023.
The UK government’s statement highlights the transition to an ETA system, eliminating the need for a visit visa. Under this system, tourists of all age groups must electronically apply for a £10 travel permit, valid for two years. This change is intended to simplify entry procedures, promoting smoother and more accessible travel for citizens of these nations visiting the UK.
Earlier this year, the UK government outlined plans for a new ETA scheme as part of its border digitization by 2025, aiming to enhance border security and customer experience. An ETA serves as digital permission for travel, applicable to those visiting or transiting the UK for short stays, without requiring a visa.
By reducing costs and visa requirements, the ETA scheme seeks to ensure that visitors from Gulf states and Jordan experience convenient travel to the UK, fostering stronger business and tourism links. Gulf visitors play a crucial role in the UK economy, with over 790,000 visitors from the region spending £2 billion during their stays in 2022.