There has been a lot of talk about how travel to the UK might change due to a variety of circumstances. Some of them are past, such as Brexit, and some are still to come, such as the introduction of a new Electronic Visa Authorisation (ETA).
However, regardless of the reason why traveling to the United Kingdom might become more difficult, it is very important for travelers to get informed and find out all there is to know about these changes. That way, they can minimize any potential issues they might run into on arrival.
The Electronic Visa Authorisation (ETA)
One of the major changes associated with traveling to the UK is represented by the new ETA, or Electronic Visa Authorisation. As the name would suggest, this is an electronic document that will permit foreign citizens to enter the UK without a traditional, full visa. Certain eligibility requirements will have to apply, and only eligible travelers will be approved for an ETA.
The primary demographic targeted by the British Home Office through the introduction of this document will be those who are non-visa nationals (NVN), also known as foreign citizens who were previously able to enter the UK without a visa.
Travel Restrictions Due to COVID
Everyone is talking about it, but not everyone knows the details. Like other countries in western Europe, the UK has introduced a number of travel limitations that were cited to help prevent the spread of the COVID virus during this time. One of the major new additions is a health document that travelers to the United Kingdom will have to present at entry, before they are allowed to freely pass the border.
If you're planning to travel to the UK from any other country, you will need to complete a Public Passenger Locator form that requires payment and approval, before you can use it. This is essentially a health certificate designed to track travelers and prevent the spread of COVID as much as possible.
You can find the UK travel authorization form online and obtain your Public Passenger Locator form to legally travel to the country even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Following the registration process, you will be provided with a number and a barcode that you will have to present once you arrive.
Traveling After Brexit
Brexit changed a lot of things about British and European commerce and politics. However, it also recently implemented changes regarding travel - namely, even more restrictions.
If you were lucky enough to obtain your UK residency before the start of the year (meaning, prior to December 31st, 2020), then you will be able to continue visiting the UK with just an ID card and the added restrictions that might apply to you according to the information presented above. However, for everyone else, starting from October 1st, 2021, a valid passport will be required to enter the country.
The exception includes those visitors whose countries of origin fall under the withdrawal agreement. So, if you're a Dutch national, for instance, you can keep using your ID card to travel between the UK and the Netherlands until 2025, or even beyond - depending on any subsequent decisions that might be taken later on - provided that you are able to present proof that you fall under the agreement.