Dynamics of eTAs and eVisas in modern day travel

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Dynamics of eTAs and eVisas in modern day travel
Dynamics of eTAs and eVisas in modern day travel

Africa-Press – Seychelles. According to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), electronic travel systems offer an automated process for handling a passenger’s authorisation to travel to a country, replacing traditional paper-based visas.

This is further categorised into two types: electronic travel authorisation (eTA) and electronic visa (eVisa).

An electronic travel authorisation (ETA), like the one in operation in Seychelles, is a digital system that enables governments to screen travelers before they depart from their country of origin. ETAs were originally adopted by the United States of America (USA) and Australia in order to preserve visa free regimes. On the other hand, the eVisa system uses a lengthier and more rigorous screening process to approve travelers for entry. Visas may come in many different types, including business or investor visas, tourism visas, student visas, and immigrant visas. An eVisa digitises the traditional visa process, from digital application to vetting, approval, and issuance. This not only enhances government efficiency but also significantly improves the traveller experience by eliminating the need to visit an embassy or consulate.

In recent years, an increasing number of countries have favoured the eTA system in addition to, or instead of, eVisa. Most recently, Kenya adopted the eTA system in January 2024, officially becoming a visa-free country. Kenya follows in Seychelles’ footsteps after the 2020 launch of the Seychelles Electronic Border System (SEBS) which has resultedin a remarkable 70% reduction in immigration processing time. An eTA, according to Border Management Today, allows governments to identify potential issues early on by gathering crucial information about incoming travellers, facilitating more informed risk assessment. In Kenya, this has led to a reduced application fee from USD100 to USD39 compared to traditional eVisas. Jumping on this trend, the United Kingdom introduced its eTA system at the end of 2023 and the European Union (EU) plans to launch the ETIAS system in 2025, streamlining travel for visitors from Visa-exempt countries throughout Europe.

Despite the rise of eTA systems, the role of eVisas remains significant in international travel.

eVisas simplify the application and vetting process, allowing travelers to apply from home, eliminating embassy visits, and avoiding the need to send physical passports for processing. For countries that already have visa policies in place, an eVisa offersbenefits like extended validity periods, multiple-entry options, streamlined border control, and contributes to an efficient and secure travel experience.

Australia, a country with strict immigration rules, has embraced both eTA and eVisa systems, further underlining the crucial differences between the two systems and their applications. The introduction of eVisas in Australia allowed applicants to receive feedback within one to two days, showcasing the efficiency of this digital system.

Digitalisation of immigration and border processes does not have to be limited to travel. Digital systems for permits, such as work and student permits, also offer great benefits. For instance, in some countries, they’ve made it simpler by including permit applications within the electronic travel system. When someone applies for an eTA or eVisa, he/she won’t be prompted to upload his/her work permit at the same time.

Integrating these systems can help make the vetting process faster, as immigration officers already have all the necessary documents, and information needed to properly risk-assess and approve individuals.

Countries like the UK, Canada and Australia allow people to apply for permits online before they even arrive. This helps remove stress for applicants and ensures they have the necessary permit approvals without the need to travel back and forth to the country. This proactive approach makes the permit application process easier, providing a more convenient experience for applicants and business owners.

The ongoing global transition to digitalisation marks a crucial step in modernising and optimising international travel procedures. Whether through an eTA or eVisa, electronic travel dystems offer a comprehensive and adaptable framework, benefiting both authorities and travelers alike. As we move forward, the future of international travel promises heightened security and a seamless integration into the digital age, providing a positive and user-friendly experience for travelers.

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