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13 Feb 2024

Leon & PnrGo integration expands to enable UK UPT/ETA checks

Leon and PnrGo are long-standing partners, and have worked together since 2018 to automate passenger and crew data compliance for Leon users. Over the years, new services have been added to help you keep up with the changing regulations. Now, UK UPT/ETA is the next “big thing” on the horizon.

You may be well familiar with other services offered by PnrGo through Leon Software, like API and PNR data transfers or sanctions screening. Our integration is also ready for the upcoming eu-LISA programs: EES and ETIAS (postponed by the European Union and expected to launch in Q3 2024 and Q1 2025 respectively). Now that the United Kingdom has decided to introduce similar requirements regarding travel authorisation, Leon and PnrGo are working closely to enable the cross-system flow of additional information which carriers will need to check before the flight.

What is UK UPT and UK ETA?

UK UPT (Universal Permission to Travel) is a new scheme, gradually rolled out by the United Kingdom. It aims to strengthen border security by requiring all travellers to have a valid travel permission in advance. Eventually, the majority of these permissions will become digital-only (e.g. e-visas are planned at a later stage).

 UK ETA (Electronic Travel Authorisation) is being introduced as part of the UPT scheme. It  is a digital record linked to an individual's passport, typically valid for up to two years. This travel authorisation applies to passengers exempt from visa requirements and those without a UK immigration status.

The launch of ETA is expected to have at least three phases:

  • From 15 November 2023: the nationals of Qatar.
  • From 22 February 2024: the nationals of Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE.
  • Date TBC: more nationalities – including the nationals of EU, USA, and Australia.

During the phased rollout, there will be a ‘grace period’ when non-visa nationals may be allowed to board even if their ETA application result is still ‘pending’.

What does UK UPT/ETA mean for carriers?

UK UPT/ETA places a new obligation on carriers to ensure that they do not carry to or from the UK any passengers whose travel permission was CANCELLED or REFUSED. Penalties for non-compliance can reach up to £50,000. 

 The UK Home Office vets the passengers upon the submission of GAR or API data by the carrier.

Transitional period

The two UK systems, sGAR and iAPI, are being updated to enable a two-way communication for UK UPT between carriers and the Home Office. That is why you may see new codes returned by the iAPI system, and new Passenger Response Messages in the sGAR system. Carriers who still submit GAR by email will only be able to do so until April 6th – afterwards, they will have to switch to manual submissions via sGAR, or choose a third-party data provider to handle the transfers. In the meantime, instructions from the Home Office regarding rejected or cancelled ETAs may be rendered by phone or email and should be followed duly.

Full enforcement

The full ETA enforcement is estimated around the end of 2024. By then, the ‘grace period’ will have been closed, and the UK systems should be fully operational, with all ETA nationalities enrolled into the scheme.

Leon and PnrGo to the rescue

Compliance with the new UPT/ETA requirements does not have to be a heavy burden for your team. Leon and PnrGo teams are now working closely to bring the UK UPT/ETA vetting results straight into the Leon interface for you to access easily (just like you can currently check your sanctions screening results or see if your API and PNR messages have been sent successfully). The mandatory data transfer to the UK authorities will happen automatically, in the background of your operations, and through the enhanced integration with Leon, the response will be transferred back, saving you not only the manual workload but also the time needed to log into multiple systems to oversee everything.

It’s secure, it’s easy, and it’s within your reach. 

Visit  PnrGo  website

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