Starting from February 22, 2024, the UK government has implemented visa-free entry for visitors from Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nations and Jordan, streamlining the process for citizens of Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Qatar.
The new system replaces the need for visit visas with an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA), requiring tourists to electronically apply for a £10 travel permit valid for two years.
The UK aims to boost business and tourism links by simplifying entry procedures, cutting costs, and enhancing the overall travel experience for visitors from these Islamic countries, recognizing the significant economic contribution of Gulf visitors to the UK.
The UK government has announced a significant policy change, effective February 22, 2024, allowing visa-free entry for visitors from various Islamic countries.
To ease entry for citizens of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nations and Jordan, the UK has implemented substantial modifications to its visa policies.
Travellers from Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates will no longer be required to obtain visitor visas. Instead, nationals of these countries must obtain an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) to enter the UK, starting from February 2024. It is worth noting that travellers from Qatar have been entering the UK on an ETA since November 15, 2023.
According to a statement from the British government, the shift to an ETA system aims to simplify the entry process, eliminating the need for obtaining a visit visa. Under this new system, individuals of all age groups will be required to electronically apply for a travel permit, priced at £10, which will be issued for two years for their travel purposes.
This strategic adjustment in visa regulations is geared towards streamlining entry procedures, promoting 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 the digitization of the UK border by 2025, to enhance border security and the overall customer experience.
An ETA serves as a digital permission for those visiting or transiting through the UK, exempting them from the need for a visa during short stays or if they currently do not hold another UK visa.
The UK government, in a statement, highlighted that the ETA scheme, by reducing costs and visa requirements, will facilitate easy travel for visitors from the Gulf states and Jordan to the UK.
This move is expected to enhance business and tourism links between these countries and the UK. Gulf visitors are considered highly valuable to the UK economy, with over 790,000 Gulf visitors contributing £2 billion during their stays in the UK in 2022.