What is an electronic travel authorization (eTA)?
An electronic travel authorization (eTA) is a Canadian travel requirement for air visitors who did not have to obtain a visa. The eTA is virtual in the sense that it is electronically linked to your passport.
Who needs an eTA? Who needs a visa?
As of March 15, 2016, all foreign visitors of all ages flying to Canada, or having a flight stop in Canada, have required a visa OR Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) *.
* Note: A leniency program was in effect for travelers who did not obtain their eTA, but it ended on November 9, 2016. As of November 16, 2016, the first traveler news reports were rejected before boarding their plane for not having its eTA reported.
Travelers from certain countries need a visa to visit Canada, including those from the People’s Republic of China, Iran, Pakistan, Russia, and many others. This visa requirement for certain nationalities has not changed. They will still need to obtain their Canadian visa before arriving or transiting Canada, by air, land or sea.
What * has * changed is the need for visa-exempt foreign citizens (those from countries that do not need to obtain a Canadian visa, such as Germany, Japan, Australia, Great Britain, among others) to obtain an eTA to arrive, or travel across Canada by plane. The land and sea requirements for visa-exempt foreign nationals have not changed.
US citizens and visitors with a valid Canadian visa do not need to apply for an eTA.
If you are a dual Canadian citizen used to traveling or transiting Canada by air with a non-Canadian passport, you will no longer be able to do so. You will need a valid Canadian passport to board your flight.
The Government of Canada Citizenship and Immigration website has information on who needs an eTA and who does not.
* Basically all foreign visitors to Canada, except US citizens, need an eTA or a visa.
If you need a Canadian visa, you don’t need an eTA. If you need to get an eTA, you don’t need a visa. *
How to apply for an eTA
To apply for an eTA, you need internet access, a valid passport, a credit card, and an email address.
Go to the Government of Canada eTA website, answer a few questions, and submit your information. You will be charged a Cdn fee of $ 7 regardless of whether you are approved or not.
In a few minutes, you will find out by email whether or not you are approved for an eTA.
Parents or guardians can apply for their children, but each application for each person must be separate.
What happens next?
If approved, your eTA is automatically linked electronically to your passport.
You don’t need to print anything to take it to the airport.
When you board your plane bound for Canada or just for Canada, simply present your passport (the same passport you applied for for the eTA).
How often do I need to reapply for my eTA?
Your eTA is valid for 5 years from the date of approval or until your passport expires, whichever comes first.
What if my eTA is not approved?
If your eTA application is rejected, you will receive an email from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) with the reasons for your rejection. In this case, you should not plan or undertake any travel to Canada, even during the clemency period . If you decide to travel to Canada with a declined eTA during the leniency period, you may experience delays or be prevented from entering the country.
Some requests may not be approved immediately and require more time to process. If this is the case, an email from IRCC will be sent within 72 hours explaining the next steps.
When should you get your eTA?
You must obtain your eTA before boarding the plane, so to avoid stress and headaches, you should apply for it as soon as you know your travel plans. Although the approval process generally takes only a few minutes, if your application is rejected, you may need to address the reason for the rejection and submit more documents, which will take time.
The eTA requirements went into effect on March 15, 2016. A leniency period went into effect as people found out about the program, but as of November 9, 2016, the leniency period ended and some Travelers were turned away at the door of their flight and lost their plane because they did not have their eTA.
Read more about getting to Canada:
- Before going to Canada
- What can I bring?
- What is a Nexus card?
- Reasons why you may be denied entry to Canada
- 9 Things Americans Should Know Before Visiting Canada
- Tips for Driving Over the US-Canada Border