GCC nationals including Emiratis get visa-free access to the UK
The National reported, officials in London have indicated that the Gulf Co-operation Council bloc of countries, which includes the UAE, is set to gain access to the UK's Electronic Travel Authorisation system when it is launched next year 2023.
Officials told The National that the UK will ensure UAE and GCC nationals can “access the system from early 2023, facilitating easier travel for business visitors and tourists."
The new UK fully digital border system is designed for passengers visiting the UK or transiting through the country who do not currently need a visa for short stays and those who do not already have an immigration status before travelling.
Ending the cost and inconvenience of obtaining a UK visa before starting the trip would be a boon for bilateral travel and trade. Travellers must currently apply for a standard visitor visa or obtain an electronic waiver.
Launching the new digital border project, British officials said they expected the system to handle 30 million entry and exits every year, providing the country for the first time a comprehensive tracker of who leaves, as well as who comes into, the UK.
Emirati citizens can now gain visa-free entry to 172 countries and the passport has a high ranking in global mobility rankings.
People close to the travel industry said that Saudi Arabia and Bahrain joined other GCC countries in accessing the electronic visa waiver status for UK travel earlier this month. The announcement was seen as paving the way for the move on to the ETA in 2023.
The UK government is changing the law to ensure that a traveller’s authorisation to travel is checked by the carrier and confirmed before travel to the UK. It is not known if there will be an ETA when the system comes online.