Are you planning a trip to Canada any time soon? If so, you may need to apply for an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) before entering the country. This is a requirement for visa-exempt foreign nationals traveling to Canada by air. The eTA is a digital document that links your passport to your travel information and is valid for up to five years. Applying for a Canada eTA is a simple process that can be done online, and it typically takes only a few minutes to complete.
However, it's important to note that not all travelers are eligible for an eTA, and certain requirements must be met to be approved. This page breaks down what is eTA, who needs it, and how to apply for it to prepare you for your upcoming trip to Canada.
What Is eTA (Electronic Travel Authorization)?
An Electronic Travel Authorization, or eTA Canada, is an online entry requirement allowing more efficient and secure travel to certain countries. The primary purpose of an eTA is to pre-screen travelers before they board their flights or arrive at their destinations, ensuring that they are eligible to enter the country in question. Various countries worldwide, including eTA Canada, have implemented this electronic system. The eTA system simplifies the travel process for eligible visitors, streamlining entry procedures while maintaining high levels of security and immigration control.
eTA Canada is a specific example of an Electronic Travel Authorization system implemented by the Canadian government. This system allows citizens from visa-exempt countries to apply for travel authorization online and receive it electronically, eliminating the need for a physical visa stamp in their passports. It is important to note that an eTA does not guarantee entry into Canada, as travelers must still meet all other entry requirements and undergo an examination by a border services officer upon arrival.
One of the main advantages of a Canada eTA is its ability to enhance security measures for both the traveler and the host country. By pre-screening visitors, potential security risks can be identified and addressed before they enter the country. Additionally, electronic systems provide a more efficient means of data collection, allowing authorities to monitor patterns and trends in international travel more effectively.
Furthermore, a Canada eTA simplifies the overall travel experience for eligible visitors. By reducing the need for physical visa stamps and allowing travelers to apply online, the eTA system eliminates the need to visit a consulate or embassy in person. This saves time and reduces the potential stress and inconvenience of obtaining a traditional visa.
The eTA system minimizes the hassle often associated with traditional visa applications by providing a user-friendly online platform for travelers to obtain authorization. Additionally, the electronic nature of the system allows for increased efficiency and security monitoring, ultimately benefiting both the traveler and the host nation. As international travel continues to grow and evolve, more countries will likely adopt similar eTA systems in the years to come.
How to Apply for an eTA Canada
Applying for an eTA is a simple online process. However, you should apply for an eTA before you book your flight.
Step 1 - Check Your Eligibility
To apply for an eTA, you must have a valid passport from a visa-exempt country, a valid credit card, and an email address. You must also get an eTA to enter or transit Canada by air unless you're exempt.
You need an eTA if you're a:
- Visa-exempt foreign national and you're flying to or transiting through a Canadian airport
- As a visa-exempt foreign national, you do not need an eTA (or a visitor visa) when arriving by car, bus, train, or boat (including a cruise ship).
You may be eligible to apply for an eTA (instead of a visitor visa) if you're a:
- Citizen from select visa-required countries, and you're traveling to Canada by air.
- However, you still need a visitor visa (not an eTA) when arriving by car, bus, train, or boat, including a cruise ship.
Travelers That Don't Need an eTA
U.S. citizens don't need an eTA or Visitor's Visa but must carry identification like a valid U.S. passport. If you're a lawful permanent resident of the U.S., you'll need to present a valid green card and a valid passport.
Canadian permanent residents and citizens don't need an eTA. Canadian permanent residents must have a permanent resident card or travel document. Canadian citizens and dual Canadian citizens can travel with a valid Canadian passport.
American Canadians can travel with a valid Canadian or U.S. passport.
You don't need an eTA if you're visa-required. However, you will need a Visitor's Visa to enter Canada. You may be eligible to apply for an eTA (instead of a visitor visa) if you're a citizen of select visa-required countries and traveling to Canada by air. However, you need a visitor visa (not an eTA) when arriving by car, bus, train, or boat, including a cruise ship.
Below is a list of visa-exempt nationals that will need an eTA if traveling by air or transit through an airport in Canada:
|Countries That Qualify for an Electronic Travel Authorization|
|Iceland||Ireland||Israel (passport holders)|
|Switzerland||Taiwan||Turks and Caicos|
|United Arab Emirates||United Kingdom|
Step 2 - Gather Your Documentation
To apply for a Canada eTA to travel to Canada, you will need the following documentation:
- A valid passport from a visa-exempt country
- Biographic information from your passport, including your:
- Birth date and place of birth,
- Marital status,
- Nationality, and
- Passport number
- A valid credit or debit card An email address
Step 3 - Apply Online and Pay Your Fees
To apply for an eTA, you can use the online form on the Government of Canada's official website. The application process only takes a few minutes, and the fee for an eTA is CAD 7. Learn more about Canadian immigration fees.
After You Apply
If your eTA is approved, you will receive an email confirming you can travel to Canada by air. Your eTA will be linked to your passport, and you must show your passport to airline staff whenever you board a flight to Canada. Most applications are approved within minutes, but some can take longer. You may need to submit additional documents before your application can be approved. If this happens to you, an email will be sent with instructions within 72 hours.
When you receive your eTA Canada, it will be linked to the passport you used to apply. You need to present this passport when you check in to your flight to Canada. The airline staff will scan your passport to confirm that you have a valid eTA. If you do not have one, you won't be able to board your flight. Upon arrival at a Canadian port of entry, travelers must satisfy a Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) border services officer (BSO) that they meet the requirements for entry into Canada.
The eTA does not replace the need for a passport. You must still carry proper identification for yourself and any children or minors traveling with you. You must confirm your legal right or authorization to enter Canada at the border.
How Long Does it Take to Get an eTA?
Getting an eTA before booking your flight to Canada is best. 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.
Confirm your passport number is correct. Once your eTA is approved, check that the passport number in your eTA approval email matches the number on your passport. You need to apply for a new eTA if they don't match. Learn more about Canadian visa processing times.
Is an eTA the Same as an eVisa?
No, and eTA is different from a visa. An eTA can only be obtained by citizens of countries that participate in Canada's Visa Waiver Program. eVisas, on the other hand, are often available to inhabitants of almost all nations and territories.
How Long Can I Stay in Canada With an eTA?
You can usually stay in Canada for up to six months with an eTA. However, the time you can stay in Canada will be determined by the border services officer at the Canadian port of entry.
Do I Need an eTA for Canada if I Have a Visa?
You do not need an eTA if you visit Canada by land from a visa-exempt nation. Likewise, anyone entering Canada with a Canadian visa, permanent residence, or citizenship does not require an eTA travel document.
What is the Difference Between eTA and Visa Canada?
Foreign nationals requiring visas to enter Canada must get Temporary Resident Visas (TRVs), often called entry visas. In contrast, Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) permits foreign citizens from visa-exempt countries to enter Canada without a visa.
Getting To Canada, the Electronic Way
Now that you know what is eTA and how to apply, the far more important step is to find which visa or immigration pathway is right for you before you arrive. This will depend massively on your reasons for going to Canada, how long you plan to stay in Canada, and your eligibility. One of the best ways to determine this is to speak to an immigration professional like a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC), who can help you determine the right pathway for you and help you maximize your chances of qualifying!