Starting soon, U.S. citizens will need to request permission and pay a nominal fee to enter the United Kingdom as part of the country’s new Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) program.
This program aims to tighten the U.K.’s border security by providing more precise data on travelers, according to a British Consulate General official.
The ETA is part of the U.K.’s goal to fully digitize its borders by 2025.
The implementation of the scheme will be completed by 2023, and it will affect all travelers who visit or transit to the U.K. without a visa or a special immigration status, including visa-free nationals such as those from the United States.
It’s important to note that obtaining permission to travel via the ETA is not equivalent to obtaining a regular visa.
Several nations already have an ETA system in place.
In 2022, the United States introduced the requirement for specific travelers and imposed a fee of $21. The European Union is also exploring the possibility of implementing an ETA.
This means that travelers will have to pay a border fee in addition to their trip costs to enter the country.
The requirement for special approval to travel, with the possibility of being denied, could indicate a future where certain travelers, such as those who have displeased the authorities, may not be able to travel internationally.
The recent development has sparked privacy concerns as digital borders may allow authorities to gain access to a vast amount of personal information of anyone trying to enter the country.
This could result in even individuals who have a clean criminal record being denied entry if they have made statements online that do not align with the beliefs or views of the people approving the travel applications.
Could this kind of digitalization be the future of travel?