On Monday, June 27, the UAE and other GCC countries including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait and Qatar, were added to the UK’s list of countries eligible for its new Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) system.

The addition to the list means that nationals of these countries will no longer require visas to visit the the UK starting 2023.

UK Home Secretary Priti Patel commented that the UAE and other GCC states “will be among the first countries in the world to benefit from ETAs and visa-free travel to the UK.”

Prior to the ETA system, which is set to be rolled out in 2023, UAE nationals visiting the UK can continue to use Electronic Visa Waivers, which allow individuals to complete an online waiver for each visit to the UK.

Once the ETA requirement does go into effect, it can obtained online and can be completed anytime up to a few days before departure to the UK, with the application usually processed within 48-72 hours of it being submitted.

After the ETA visa waiver has been approved, it entitles the holder a single entry into the country. Visitors will generally be allowed to spend 180 days in the UK and allowed to visit any part of the country.

“Achieving greater ease of travel for Emiratis seeking to visit the UK has been one of our top priorities. Their travel to the UK for leisure or business will be hugely simplified. Today’s historic achievement will also serve to strengthen the close diplomatic relationship between the UAE and the UK and spur further growth in our economies. It indicates the high regard in which the UAE is held in the UK and internationally,” said Mansoor Abulhoul, UAE Ambassador to the UK, according to UAE state news agency WAM.

The latest announcement brings the visa requirement for GCC nationals in line with those from other major countries including the US and Canada.

The decision regarding the ETA is reportedly part of the UK government’s move to a fully digital border by the end of 2025.