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All You Need To Know About Getting An Electronic Visa Waiver To Enter The UK

Oct 10, 2023
Last Updated on May 21, 2024

An Electronic Visa Waiver (EVW) enables nationals of a small number of countries to come to the UK for up to 6 months without the need to apply for a UK Visitor visa. If you have never heard of Electronic Visa Waivers, don’t worry. In this article, we will explain all you need to know about Electronic Visa Waivers, including who is eligible to apply, what they allow you to do, why this approach is easier than applying for a visa, and how to apply.

What is a UK Electronic Visa Waiver?

An Electronic Visa Waiver (EVW) enables nationals of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, & UAE to visit the UK for up to 6 months at short notice and without the need to apply for a Visitor visa. EVWs only allow nationals of these countries to come to the UK for the purposes of tourism, business, study or medical treatment. If you are a national of one of these countries and you need to come to the UK for another purpose, you will need to apply for a visa instead. For example, if you need to come to the UK for work or to get married in the UK, you will have to apply for a work visa or marriage visitor visa.

Why apply for a UK Electronic Visa Waiver rather than a visa?

UK Electronic Visa Waivers are preferable to Visitor visas because the application process is much faster and easier. In addition, fewer documents are required when applying, there is no need to visit a visa application centre and provide biometrics, and qualifying nationals can apply at much shorter notice (up to 48 hours before travelling). This is particularly convenient for those who need to travel to the UK unexpectedly or urgently.

Exception for Qatari nationals entering the UK on or after 15th November 2023

Nationals of Qatar who plan to visit the UK for under 6 months and will arrive on or after 15th November 2023 will need to apply for an Electronic Travel authorisation (ETA) rather than an EVW. The current guidance states that Qatari nationals in this situation will be able to apply for an ETA from 25th October 2023. This is because the ETA scheme is new and currently being rolled out on a limited basis. ETAs are for those who plan to come to the UK for:

  • Up to 6 months for tourism, visiting family and friends, business or study
  • Up to 3 months on the Creative Worker visa concession, or
  • The purpose of transiting through the UK to another country and will not pass border control here.

How can I apply for a UK Electronic Visa Waiver?

You can apply for a UK Electronic Visa Waiver online on the Home Office website. To apply for your UK Electronic Visa Waiver, you will need to complete the following steps:

  1. Gather the documents you will need to apply – these include your:
    • Current valid passport
    • The address in the UK where you will be staying and
    • Details of your journey, including departure and arrival dates and times
  2. Complete the online UK Electronic Visa Waiver application form – it is essential that the personal details you enter exactly match those on your passport. Be careful to ensure that the spelling and any spaces, hyphens, apostrophes and full stops are exactly the same. If there is a discrepancy between your personal details on the application and those on your passport, your application may be refused, and you will not be able to travel to the UK.
  3. Pay the application fee of £30 (this can be paid by debit or credit card)
  4. Make a separate online EVW application for each person travelling with you, including your spouse and children.

The EVW application guidance states that if another person is applying for you, they must enter their own contact details as well as yours.

What to do after you have applied for an EVW

Once you have submitted your application and paid the required application fee, if your application is approved, you will receive an email from the UK Home Office with your EVW. The email will contain a link from which you can download your EVW.

If your application for an EVW is refused, you may be able to reapply and correct any errors made in the application. Alternatively, speak to an immigration Solicitor who can advise you.

On arrival in the UK

Your EVW must be shown at the UK border when you arrive – this may be a printed copy of your EVW or shown digitally on an electronic device, e.g. mobile phone or tablet.

It is important to remember that you can only use your EVW once. If you plan to come to the UK for a second or subsequent time, you will need to apply for another EVW.

If your travel plans change – changing your EVW

If your travel arrangements change after you have applied for and received your EVW, don’t worry; you can simply change the dates of travel. This will be necessary if you:

  • decide to travel at a different time
  • leave from or arrive at a different airport, port or train station than planned or
  • arrive in the UK more than 8 hours later than planned

To alter your travel plans on your EVW, you will need to:

  1. Go to the EVW page on the Home Office website
  2. Enter your electronic visa waiver number
  3. Enter your date of birth as shown on your passport
  4. Change your travel plans
  5. Confirm the changes
  6. Re-download your EVW

Final words

Nationals of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, & UAE have a distinct advantage over those travelling to the UK from other countries for which a visa is required. Applying for an EVW for the UK is easy, quick, and affordable, and, crucially, it enables short-notice travel.

A Y & J Solicitors is a specialist immigration law firm with extensive experience with all types of visa applications. We have an in-depth understanding of immigration law and are professional and results-focused. For assistance with your visa application or any other UK immigration law concerns, please contact us on +44 20 7404 7933 or contact us today. We’re here to help!

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A Y & J Solicitors is a multi-award winning, 14+ years experienced, recommended by Legal 500, boutique UK immigration law firm based in Central London. Having assisted 5000+ clients, we are well equipped to help you with our ‘In It To Win It’ approach. For your assurance and confidence, we are pleased to share our trust rating of 4.9/5 based on 1000+ reviews on Trustpilot & Google.

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