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Home » Drop in emergency travel documents issued to Brits in Gulf in past two years: UK official – News

Drop in emergency travel documents issued to Brits in Gulf in past two years: UK official – News

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British Embassies have been issuing ETDs mostly because the applicants’ failure to check passport’s expiry date and renew it in in time.

The number of Emergency Travel Documents, ETDs, issued to British nationals living in the Gulf dropped considerably during the past two years.

The British Embassies have been issuing ETDs mostly because the applicants’ failure to check passport’s expiry date and renew it in in time.

Therefore, the embassies had run a campaign to remind British expatriates to check when their passports were due to expire and make a diary note to renew them up to nine months before they expire to avoid any inconveniences.

There was a significant decline in number of ETDs issued to British nationals living in the UAE, “which has the biggest concentration of British residents and tourists in the Middle East and so is a key country for us,” a top UK official told the Emirates News Agency (WAM).

“The UAE is home to approximately 102,000 British people, and is the holiday destination of choice for another 1.5 million,” Julia Longbottom , Director for Consular Affairs in Foreign and Commonwealth Office, said in an email interview.

The number of Emergency Travel Documents issued in the Gulf dropped by 12.37 percent between 2016 and 2018; the decline in the case of UAE was 28.9 percent during the same time.

“In 2018, we issued 333 ETDs to British nationals in the Gulf, 187 of these were issued to British nationals in the UAE. This is a reduction in comparison with 2016 when we issued 380 ETDs to British nationals in the Gulf, 263 of which were issued to British nationals in the UAE,” she explained.

“We do all we can to encourage British citizens to take appropriate care of their passports and to ensure that they do not allow their passports to expire if they have any plan to travel, particularly those who live outside the UK,” the official added.

However, there will always be some whose passports are lost or stolen, or who fail to realise that their passports have expired, Longbottom said.

“We remain ready to assist with provision of ETDs when they are overseas and have a need to travel more quickly than they can obtain a UK passport,” she explained.

About extending consular support to British nationals facing troubles abroad, she said, “The UK has a public undertaking to reduce the number of preventable incidents before they happen or to stop them from escalating.

“We have produced various communications campaigns in the UAE aimed at British nationals to raise awareness of issues, particularly those related to local laws and customs.

“Other prevention priorities include working with the local authorities so we can provide a greater understanding of UAE legal process to British nationals,” she said.

The UK is also publishing clear and accessible travel advice for 225 countries worldwide to help British nationals make informed decisions and plan safe and trouble-free trips abroad, Longbottom said.

About the UK’s preparations to ensure a smooth entry for UK nationals to European Union countries and vice versa after the Brexit, the official said that the EU had confirmed that it would grant UK nationals visa-free travel to the EU after the UK’s withdrawal.

This means that UK nationals will not need a visa when travelling to the EU for short stays. This would apply even if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

If a deal is reached, it will apply as of the end of any transition period, Longbottom explained.

The EU’s European Travel Information and Authorisation System, ETIAS, scheme would require nationals of non-EU countries who do not require a visa to fill in a form and pay a small fee ahead of travel, which would be valid for three years, the official pointed out.

This is similar to the US ESTA system -The Electronic System for Travel Authorisation, ESTA, – an automated system used to determine the eligibility of visitors to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Programme, VWP, she said.

The EU intends to introduce their ETIAS scheme by 2021. The UK also plans to introduce an Electronic Travel Authorisation, ETA, scheme in future, which will require visitors, and transit passengers who do not normally need a visa to come to the UK to obtain an ETA prior to travel, the official said.

This will enable the government to conduct security checks on passengers and make more informed decisions on information obtained at an earlier stage, as to whether individuals should be allowed to travel to the UK, she said.

In future, the UK will by default be a third country and the EU has announced its intention to apply ETIAS to UK citizens, the official pointed out.

“It is similarly our intention to require EU citizens [except Irish nationals] to obtain an Electronic Travel Authorisation, ETA, when coming to the UK in the future,” Longbottom said.

The detail of the UK’s ETA scheme is currently under development and requires primary legislation before it can be introduced, she added.

Click here to read more news from @khaleejtimes

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