The United Kingdom is introducing a new Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) system, with Qatar becoming the first country to benefit from it. From October 2023, Qatari citizens will be able to apply for digital pre-approval before arriving in the UK. The new measure will provide travellers who do not require a visa to visit the UK with a platform to apply for digital pre-approval before arriving.
By applying via the new system in advance, visitors will benefit from a smoother and more efficient travel experience. The new visa system is expected to help strengthen the Qatar-UK relationship.
The British Ambassador to Qatar, Jon Wilks CMG, announced the new system at a press conference in Doha. He emphasized that the first annual Qatar-UK Strategic Dialogue in London in February 2023 paved the way for a robust and expanding bilateral relationship, adding that Qatar and the United Kingdom share a vital and flourishing trade and investment partnership.
Wilks said that availing the new visa system is important to further strengthening “very strong” Qatar-UK relations. He also indicated that negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA) between the UK and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) would be finalized soon. The FTA would be a substantial economic opportunity and a significant moment in the UK-GCC relationship.
“We, the UK, are keen to move quickly on this… whereas these markets are important for us, and the political atmosphere is very positive with all the six GCC states. So we want them more quickly, of course,” he said, adding that an exact time frame to finalize the agreement depends on the progress of the negotiations.
Wilks said that the technical team is present in Qatar and that they have met with officials to test the new application system. In October, the new system will be introduced, and Qatar will be the first country in the world to have access to this new system and be exempted from visas.
Any Qatari citizen is free to choose between applying for the regular visa that still exists and obtaining a ten-year visa or applying through the application with extreme flexibility, and within five minutes. Any Qatari can obtain a two-year visa with a multiple visit system.
The new system is expected to make travel more convenient and hassle-free for travellers visiting the UK. Visitors can apply for pre-approval through the ETA system, which can be done within five minutes, and will be able to use the system as an alternative to the current visa application process.
The British government has also expressed its desire to strengthen its trade relationship with the GCC, of which Qatar is a member. The UK and the GCC have been discussing a free trade agreement since 2016, and negotiations have been ongoing. A free trade agreement would enable the UK to maintain and deepen its trade relationship with the Gulf region, which is currently worth around £30 billion.
The agreement would provide significant benefits for both the UK and the GCC, and Wilks emphasized that the UK is keen to finalize the agreement as soon as possible. He said that the next round of negotiations is expected to be hosted by the UK later this year and that the exact time frame to finalize the agreement depends on the progress of the negotiations.
The UK’s new Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) system is set to benefit Qatar, which will be the first country to have access to the new system. The system will provide travellers who do not require a visa to visit the UK with a platform to apply for digital pre-approval before arriving.
The new visa system is expected to help strengthen the Qatar-UK relationship, while negotiations for a free trade agreement between the UK and the GCC are ongoing. The FTA would be a substantial economic opportunity and a significant moment in the UK-GCC relationship. The ETA system and the potential FTA are positive developments.
The new electronic UK border scheme is expected to benefit both Qatari citizens and the United Kingdom. For Qatari citizens, the new system will provide a more efficient and streamlined travel experience. Instead of having to apply for a traditional visa, travelers can now apply for digital pre-approval before arriving in the UK. This can be done quickly and easily, within just five minutes, and will grant Qatari citizens access to a two-year visa with a multiple-visit system. The system also offers a ten-year visa for those who choose to apply for it.
For the United Kingdom, the new system will help attract more visitors from Qatar, boosting tourism and strengthening the already strong trade and investment relationship between the two countries. In addition, the new visa system will help to enhance border security by providing a more efficient and reliable way of processing visitors.
The move comes as part of the UK government’s efforts to modernize its border and immigration systems. The ETA system will replace the existing visa waiver program, which allows citizens from certain countries, including Qatar, to enter the UK without a visa for up to six months. The new system will offer a more secure and streamlined approach to border control, ensuring that visitors are pre-vetted before they arrive in the UK.
The UK government has also been working to secure a free trade agreement (FTA) with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), of which Qatar is a member. Negotiations for the FTA have been ongoing since 2016, and the UK is keen to finalize the agreement as soon as possible. According to Ambassador Wilks, negotiations for the FTA are expected to be finalized soon, providing a significant boost to the UK-GCC relationship.
The FTA will provide an economic opportunity for both the UK and GCC, as it will remove trade barriers and make it easier for businesses to trade goods and services between the two regions. The FTA will also help to strengthen the already strong trade and investment relationship between the UK and Qatar, providing further opportunities for businesses to expand and grow.
The new electronic UK border scheme is a positive step forward for both Qatari citizens and the United Kingdom. The new system will provide a more efficient and streamlined approach to border control, while also strengthening the already strong trade and investment relationship between the two countries.
The move is part of the UK government’s efforts to modernize its border and immigration systems, and is expected to attract more visitors from Qatar to the UK, boosting tourism and providing a significant economic opportunity for both regions.