Editor’s note: This story has been updated.
As part of the United Kingdom’s effort to fully digitize borders by 2025, tourists must obtain a new electronic travel authorization to enter the country starting next year.
This requirement applies to all visitors, including Americans, who can travel there visa-free.
On Thursday, the U.K. government confirmed the ETA system would begin in October for Qatari visitors specifically.
After this initial launch, visitors from the rest of the Gulf Cooperation Council states and Jordan can begin applying for an ETA starting in February 2024.
“The new scheme will entirely replace the current Electronic Visa Waiver (EVW) Scheme which requires visitors to the UK from GCC states to pay a higher cost for a single-use visit,” the U.K. government said Thursday.
By the end of next year, travelers from other countries (including Americans) should expect to be required to apply for an ETA to visit the U.K.
“ETAs will be a requirement worldwide for visitors who do not need a visa for short stays, including those visiting from Europe,” per the Home Office. “Visitors from Europe, and other nations such as America and Australia do not currently need to make any form of application to visit to the UK, however this will be changing with the introduction of ETAs.”
Because the ETA is not a visa, Europeans and other visa-free travelers, including those from the U.S., will maintain their visa-free status but will need an ETA to cross the U.K. border upon implementation.
Though U.K. officials haven’t specified how much a permit will cost, similar permits for travelers to other places — including Canada, the European Union and the U.S. — range from $5 to $21.
In August 2022, the European Union delayed the implementation of the long-awaited European Travel Information and Authorisation System visa program, requiring travelers to pay a fee to visit EU nations, until November 2023. Americans and travelers from the 62 other non-EU countries that are not currently required to apply for visas will need ETIAS authorization to enter the EU for visits of up to 90 days, including transit passengers. Only visitors ages 18 to 70 must pay the 7 euro ($7.40) fee, but everyone must obtain the permit.