Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA), Explained

ESTA is an automated system that determines the eligibility of visitors to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). Authorization via ESTA does not determine whether a traveler is admissible to the United States.

Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA), Explained

Most foreign nationals who want to visit Canada need a visa or an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) to enter the country.

Canada is a great travel destination that offers something to everybody. If you are from a certain country, then you are in luck as the travel visa process will be easier since you will only need an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA). There are citizens of some countries that have a good relationship with Canada and are, therefore, are visa-exempt. That is to say, they do not require a visa to enter the country.

Meanwhile, these people might not need a visa, but they will need some sort of official document that they are approved and admissible to Canada. In 2016, Canada introduced electronic travel authorization (eTA) as a new entry requirement for visa-exempt foreign nationals traveling to or through Canada by air.

Continue reading to learn more about electronic travel authorization. This article will be providing answers to questions such as what is an eTA, do I need an eTA, how to apply for an eTA, and more.

What is a Canadian Electronic Travel Authority (eTA)?

Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) is a standard requirement for foreign nationals who are from visa-exempt countries and want to travel to Canada. An eTA is electronically linked to a traveler’s passport. It is valid for up to five years or until the passport expires. The validity of your eTA depends on whichever scenario comes first. If you get a new passport, you need to get a new eTA.

Moreover, only travelers from countries who do not require a visa to visit Canada are required to get an eTA, and only if they are traveling to Canada by air. If you’re from a visa-exempt country visiting Canada by land, you do not need an eTA. Anyone who has a Canadian visa, Canadian permanent residence, or Canadian citizenship does not need an eTA travel document to enter Canada.

More on eTA

The eTA is a much faster version of the visa and it does not require as many documents as a visa does. So, if you qualify for the eTA, you cannot apply for a visa if you are using it for the purpose of just traveling. You will need a visa if you want to work, study, or stay permanently in Canada.

With a valid eTA, you can travel to Canada as often as you want for short stays (normally for up to six months or less at a time). You do not need an eTA for travel within Canada. You are not allowed to try to stay permanently or apply for Canadian citizenship. Moreover, you are not allowed to apply for any Canadian-issued documents or claim Canadian benefits such as health benefits.

Furthermore, an eTA doesn’t guarantee entry to Canada. This will be at the border officer’s discretion. When you arrive, a border services officer will ask to see your passport and other documents – for example, a US Green Card. You must convince the officer that you are eligible for entry into Canada.

Who Needs an eTA to Travel to Canada?

Generally, foreign nationals from visa-exempt countries will need an eTA to fly to or transit through a Canadian airport. These travelers do not need an eTA when arriving by car, bus, train, or boat.

Moreover, lawful permanent residents of the United States need an eTA to fly to or transit through a Canadian airport. However, they must present a valid green card and a valid passport at check-in. Other travelers who may be eligible to apply for an eTA are citizens from select visa-required countries who want to travel to Canada by air. But these travelers will need a visitor visa when traveling by land (car, bus, train) or sea (boat, cruise ship).

However, other travelers aside from the aforementioned ones cannot apply for an eTA, and therefore, will need to carry other identification. Canadian citizens, including dual citizens, need a valid Canadian passport. Moreover, Canadian permanent residents will need a valid permanent resident card or permanent resident travel document. Furthermore, United States citizens are exempt from the eTA requirements and must carry proper identification such as a valid US passport.

Who is Eligible for the Electronic Travel Authorization?

Moreover, here's a list of the eligible countries that require an eTA:

Andorra Australia Austria
Bahamas Barbados Belgium
Anguilla Bermuda The British Virgin Islands
Cayman Islands Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Gibraltar
Montserrat Pitcairn Island Saint Helena
Turks and Caicos Islands Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria
Chile Croatia Cyprus
Czech Republic Denmark Estonia
Finland France Germany
Greece Hong Kong Hungary
Iceland Ireland Israel
Italy Japan Republic of Korea
Latvia Liechtenstein Lithuania
Luxembourg Malta Mexico
Monaco Netherlands New Zealand
Norway Papua New Guinea Poland
Portugal Romania Samoa
San Marino Singapore Slovakia
Slovenia Solomon Islands Spain
Sweden Switzerland Taiwan
United Arab Emirates United States Vatican City State

How to Apply for an Electronic Travel Authorization

Applying for an eTA is a simple online process that takes just a few minutes to complete. However, you must submit your eTA application on the official Government of Canada website.

To apply, you must have a valid email address. Most applicants get their eTA approval (via email) within minutes. However, some requests can take several days to process if you're asked to submit supporting documents. It is best to get an eTA before you book your flight to Canada.

Moreover, should you need assistance with your eTA application, there's a document available that can be found on the government of Canada website that will be very helpful to you. It is also available in several languages, making it understandable to most.

Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) Application Process

Here's an overview of the eTA application process:

  1. Get your documents ready and read the help document. Below are the documents you need to complete the eTA application:
    • valid passport from a visa-exempt country;
    • valid email address; and
    • credit or debit card.
  2. Then, use the online form to apply. The form cannot be saved. Once you start your eTA application you have to complete it in that sitting. So have your information ready.
  3. Pay $7 CAD for your eTA right after you complete the form. You will have to pay this fee before you submit your application.
  4. Once completed and if successfully, you will get an email about your eTA application. You will receive your eTA number in the email. Most applications are approved within minutes. Or, in most cases, you may need to submit documents before your application can be approved. If this happens to you, an email will be sent with instructions within 72 hours.

How Long is the eTA Processing Time?

Electronic travel authorization applications are processed a few minutes after you submit the application. You would generally receive your approved eTA status via email. Moreover, there are cases when the processing of your eTA will take a few days, but it will not take more than 1 week. In such cases, you will receive an email within 72 hours of applying. This email will tell you what your next steps are.

Final Thoughts

Once you get the eTA, you will be able to travel to Canada and stay there for 6 months or less. But the eTA can be valid for more than that. Most often, your eTA will be approved for up to 5 years or until your passport expires, whichever comes first.

Moreover, in addition to the application process, if you enter the wrong passport number on the eTA form, you will have problems flying to Canada. Make sure you avoid this common mistake when you apply. You can use the eTA help guide (PDF, 1.62 MB) and follow the instructions to enter your passport number correctly.

In conclusion, electronic travel authorization is an individual travel document and it cannot be used by multiple people. It is electronically linked to the traveler's passport. Therefore, each member of a family must have their own eTA. Read more on immigration.