Spanish and other citizens from European Union countries will soon need a travel pass or Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) to enter the United Kingdom. The British Home Office has said that the plan should be introduced by the end of next year and it is aimed at strengthening border security.

European Union citizens heading to Britain will need to apply for the travel pass before they start their journey.

What is the new ETA system?

The British government has highlighted the similarities between the UK ETA and immigration systems in place in other countries, such as the United States ESTA. The EU will also launch its own digital visa waiver, ETIAS, in 2023. The ETA system will work by screening visitors before they arrive in the UK. Travellers will provide basic personal details, passport data, and some security information by completing an online ETA application form. Applications will be processed automatically, with only complex decisions made by ETA officials. Most people will receive their approved UK ETA quickly. Visitors will be able to apply from home and will not be required to visit a UK Embassy.

The UK ETA is part of a wider permission to travel policy. This means that all foreign nationals will need to obtain permission to enter the United Kingdom.

Such permission may be in the form of a traditional visa or, for non-visa-nationals, an ETA.

The ETA is not a visa. Europeans and travellers from countries including the US and Canada will maintain their visa-free status but will need an ETA to cross the UK border -