At present, German citizens may enter the UK without a visa. However, once the future relationship between Britain and the European Union (EU) has been settled it is widely predicted that Germans will need a United Kingdom eTA (electronic travel authority) before arriving in the country.
The UK eTA is a proposed visa waiver that is currently under development. It will be fully available online and will grant multiple short stays in the country for business and tourism over a number of years.
It is expected it will be necessary for German citizens once freedom of movement ends between Britain and the EU.
This page explains how Germans will be able to prepare for a trip to the United Kingdom once the eTA launches. It details the main UK visa waiver requirements that German citizens will need to meet and explains the process of completing the online eTA application form.
UK eTA Application Process for German Nationals
The UK eTA application process will be quick and easy to complete. It is expected that an applicant from Germany will only need to spend 10-15 minutes filling out the necessary online forms.
Germans will need to apply for their eTA at least a few days before travelling to the UK. This is to allow enough time for any possible delays with the processing of an application.
The application form will ask for the following essential information from the registrant:
- Their personal details: Including their full name and date of birth
- The data from a valid passport: Such as its document number, expiry and issue date
- Personal contact information: e.g. the passenger’s telephone number and address
- An email address: To receive confirmation and updates about the application
- Travel itinerary details: Such as the traveller’s arrival date in the UK
Once the form is completed and the fees paid, the German visitor’s visa waiver will be processed by the UK authorities. After an eTA has been approved, it will be sent directly to the registrant’s email address provided during the application process.
UK Visa Waiver: Documents and Requirements for Germany
Germans applying for this new UK visa waiver will need a number of important documents ready in order to have their application approved successfully. When filling out the form they will need:
- A valid German passport
- A functional email address
- A completed UK eTA application form
- A credit or debit card to pay the visa waiver fees
On rare occasions, further documentation may be required. This will normally be requested if the UK border authorities need additional information from the applicant. The user from Germany will be notified promptly by email if this is the case for any reason.
When Do Germans Need a Visa Waiver for the UK?
It is not yet confirmed when a UK visa waiver will be needed by German citizens. However, it is highly anticipated that this will become a necessity from 2021.
The Brexit transition agreement formally ends on the 31st of December 2020. After that, it is very likely that travel to Britain will change. Unless an extension is agreed or a deal is struck by then, it is assumed that new immigration rules will be introduced.
The British government has stated its desire to end freedom of movement between the EU and UK on a number of occasions after the country has left the shared European legal framework. It has also proposed the eTA as its preferred alternative system for EEA tourism and business travellers.
Therefore, it is likely that the eTA to the United Kingdom will launch near the end of 2020 or early in 2021. Once the new system is active it will become obligatory for German travellers making short visits to the UK.
Travelling to the United Kingdom From Germany
Once an eTA to the UK has been approved and sent to the German applicant, it will be valid for a number of years or until the passport associated with the eTA ends (whichever comes first). The holder from Germany will then be able to enter the United Kingdom on multiple occasions for short-term tourist or business trips.
When arriving in the UK, German travellers must enter the country with the same passport as the one used to apply for the eTA. Otherwise, the visa waiver would not be valid. It is also advised to carry a printed copy of UK’s eTA approval email for the duration of a trip to Britain as proof of authorization to visit.
It is highly likely that when launched, each individual traveller in a family group will need their own eTA. This includes children visiting the UK.
The eTA cannot be used to work or live in the UK long term. Instead, Germans wishing to gain employment in Britain will need to acquire another type of UK visa that suits their needs.