UK Rolls Out Two-Year Multiple Entry Visa Scheme to Gulf, Jordanian Citizens


By Arendse Huld

The United Kingdom (UK) has expanded a two-year multiple-entry visa scheme to citizens of the GCC countries – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, as well as Jordan. Citizens of Qatar are already required to apply under the new scheme at the time of announcement.

From February 1, 2024, all nationals of these countries planning on traveling to the UK will be required to apply for the Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) Scheme. Travelers can enter the UK under this scheme from February 22, 2024 onward.

The ETA Scheme will replace the previous Electronic Visa Waiver (EVW) Scheme that was available to citizens of the Gulf countries. The ETA Scheme will be valid for two years, or until the traveler’s passport expires, and will allow unlimited entries into the UK during the validity period. Under the previous EVW Scheme, visitors from GCC countries (excluding Qatar) were only eligible for a six-month single-entry visa.

How to apply for the ETA scheme

Applications for the ETA Scheme can be done either through the UK government website or by downloading the UK ETA app from the App Store or Google Play. The UK government recommends using the app for its ease of use.

To apply, applicants will be required to provide contact and passport details, a valid and compliant photo, and answer some questions related to the applicant’s suitability for the scheme and criminal history. The application fee is £10 (US$12.61), considerably cheaper than under the previous scheme, in which the fee was £30 (US$37.8). Jordanian citizens previously had to pay £115 (US$145) for a single-entry visa.

Applications are usually processed within three days, but most will be decided “within hours”, according to the UK government. This will make planning and traveling to the UK on short notice considerably easier for GCC and Jordanian nationals.

The ETA will be digitally linked to the passport used to apply, which means that travelers will only need to show their passport at immigration in order to enter the UK.

Note that an ETA will also be required when entering Northern Ireland from the Republic of Ireland. Previously, visitors arriving from the Republic of Ireland were permitted to enter Northern Ireland without any additional visa requirements. However, there are currently no immigration controls between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK (Scotland, England, and Wales).

The ETA Scheme is only applicable to people traveling for tourism, short-term business trips, family visits, and short-term study. Citizens from Jordan or GCC countries seeking to work or study long-term in the UK will still be required to apply for the equivalent work or study visa.

People arriving without the required ETA from February 22, 2024, onward may be denied boarding by the airline or refused entry at the UK border. Moreover, it will be considered a criminal offense to knowingly attempt to enter the UK without the required ETA.

The importance of the Gulf to the UK economy

Visitors from the Gulf countries are an important contributor to the UK economy. According to the UK Home Secretary James Cleverly, “visitors from the Gulf and Jordan […] represent our second largest tourism market and contribute billions to the UK economy.”

In 2022, almost 800,000 visitors from Gulf countries spent £2 billion during their stays in the country, according to the UK government. Visitors from these countries will play an ever more important role as visitor numbers from the rest of Europe to the UK have decreased following the implementation of Brexit.

The decision to expand the ETA Scheme to the rest of the GCC countries and Jordan followed a meeting between the Home Secretary and Gulf and Jordanian ambassadors and representatives from the travel and tourism sectors.

The ETA Scheme will be rolled out to citizens of all countries who currently can travel visa-free to the UK by the end of 2024.

Related reading
Back to top