KUWAIT: The UK government announced that all Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states will move to the Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) scheme from 2023. The new system allows citizens of Kuwait and other GCC countries to apply for an ETA valid for multiple trips over an extended period. Prior to the introduction of ETAs in 2023, travelers from the Gulf can continue to use Electronic Visa Waivers which allows individuals to complete an online waiver for each visit to the UK, and is available for short visits only, says a statement released by the UK Embassy in Kuwait.
By moving to ETAs, all six Gulf states – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE – will become non-visa nationals, meaning they will not require a visa to visit the UK, according to the statement. “The move will bolster UK security and improve border processes, making it easier for visitors from the region to visit the UK for business or tourism,” it says, adding that the step “will bring the requirements of Gulf nationals in-line with other key partners including the USA and Canada.”
“Waiving the visa requirement for Kuwaiti nationals making short visits to the UK next year is fantastic news. It will bring our two countries even closer together, reflecting our longstanding bonds of friendship, trade and cooperation across a wide range of areas,” British Ambassador to Kuwait Belinda Lewis said. “With so many direct flights between Kuwait and the UK, including Kuwait Airways’ new route into Manchester, it will be easier than ever to keep in touch and enjoy the best that each country has to offer.”
“This move means that Gulf states will be among the first countries in the world to benefit from ETAs and visa-free travel to the UK,” UK Home Secretary Priti Patel said. “Our number one priority is the security of the UK border and by launching ETAs we can ensure that everyone wishing to travel to the UK has permission to do so in advance of travel and refuse those who pose a threat.”
“ETAs enhance the Government’s ability to screen travelers and stop those who pose a threat to the UK by ensuring everyone wishing to travel to the UK (except British and Irish citizens) has permission to do so in advance,” the statement reads. “The ETA scheme is an important part of the UK Government’s move to a fully digital border by the end of 2025. It will broadly apply to passengers visiting or transiting through the UK who do not currently need a visa for short stays (for example, because they can already use the EVW scheme), or do not currently hold another UK visa.”
The ETA will not apply to students attending courses or other categories of travelers who wish to visit the UK for longer than a short stay, according to the statement. “It is a straight-forward application process and will act as an additional security measure allowing the government to block threats from entering the UK, whilst also providing individuals with more assurance at an earlier point in time about their ability to travel,” it further explains.