Avoiding mistakes on a Canada eTA Application

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Avoid mistakes on Canada eTA Application

This article reviews the sections on the Canadian eTA application form where applicants are most likely to make data entry mistakes. These can easily be avoided if applicants gain an awareness of the permitted and expected values on the application form.

Passport information

A passport number error is critical on your eTA application. Be particularly careful when entering your passport information. If the passport number you enter is incorrect, you might not be allowed to board the flight to Canada. A few other notes to consider:

  • You may not find out you’ve made a mistake until you arrive at the airport.
  • You will then have to submit a new application for an eTA.
  • Depending on the circumstances, it might be impossible to get an eTA and thus, your travel plans may be adversely affected.

Tips to enter your passport number correctly:

Enter the number as it appears at the top of the passport information page, i.e. the page that contains your photo. Do not enter the number that appears on your passport’s first page, or the number you see at right at the bottom of the page containing your photo.

The majority of passport numbers have a length of between 8 and 11 characters. If the number you want to enter is shorter than 8 characters or longer than 11 characters, double-check to ensure that it is correct.

Passport numbers typically contain a combination of numbers and letters. Be particularly careful not to mistake the letter O for an the number 0 or vice versa. The same is true for the number “1” and the letter “I”. You should not enter spaces, hyphens or any other special characters.

Tips on how to ensure you enter your name correctly

Here are a few tips on avoiding mistakes with entering your name correctly on your eTA application;

  • All names should be entered exactly as shown on your passport.
  • Last names: these are sometimes also referred to as family name.
  • First names: these are sometimes also referred to as given name.
  • Amended names: If the observation section of your passport contains manual changes to your name or names, enter that information exactly as it is shown in this section. An observation page refers to that part of your passport that is reserved for important observations (notes) made by authorized immigration officials.
  • Apostrophes: If there is an apostrophe in your name, you should enter the correct way of spelling it on the form. Examples include O’Neil or D’Orsay.
  • Order of names: To confirm the order in which you should enter your names on the eTA application, you should consult the machine-readable area of your passport, i.e. the section just below your picture and biographical information. This is sometimes referred to as a “barcode”. On line one of that section of your passport, you will typically see a letter, followed by a double ?? (a chevron) and then your first name (given name).

In case your name or names are cut off or shortened in this section of your passport, but the full name or names appear in the upper part of your passport, enter the full name or names exactly as they are shown in the upper part. When it comes to determining the right order of your names, you should, however, rather enter them as they appear in the bottom part of the passport.

Filial relationships

In case the top or bottom sections of your passport contains descriptions such as “daughter of” or “son of” or “bint” or “bin” followed by your father’s name, you should not enter such description or your father’s name in either of the application form’s name fields. Take as an example the case where your passport shows Ahmad bin Husain bin Muhammad in one of the fields. In this case, you should enter “Husain” as the Family Name and Ahmad as the Given Name.

In case, in the top of bottom sections of the page, your passport notes a filial relation with “ben” or “ibn” or “ould wuld” followed by your father’s name, you should not enter such description or your father’s name in either of the application form’s name fields. An example is where your password shows Husain Ould Ahmad Ould Muhammad in one of the fields. In this case you should enter “Ahmad” as the Family Name and “Husain” as the First Name (Given Name).


Where your name contains a hyphen, include the hyphen on the form. Examples include Smith-Hansen and Mary-Anne.

Passport only shows a single name.

If the passport only has a single name line, enter the whole name in the answer field. Also referred to as “Family Name” or “Surname”.

Use of father’s, mother’s or ancestor’s name

If the name that appears in the machine-readable section of your passport (the section below your picture and biographic details, sometimes referred to as a “barcode”) includes your father’s, mothers’, earlier male ancestor’s, or grandfather’s name, enter that specific spelling of your name on the eTA application form.

Spousal relationships

If the top or bottom section of your passport shows your name followed by “epse”, “épouse de”, or “ep.” (“wife of”, “spouse of”, or “husband of”, you should not enter this when you complete the last name or first name fields of the online eTA application form.

You should also not enter the name of your spouse. An example is where the name field of your passport in the family name field shows Smith EP. Paul Sajan, and in the given name field John William. In this case just enter Smith as the last name and in the first name field enter John William.

Titles, degrees, prefixes and decorations

Where your passport shows a prefix, title, academic or professional qualification, suffix, honor, decoration, hereditary status, or award you should not enter this on the eTA application form unless it appears in the machine-readable section of the passport (the part below your picture and biographic data, sometimes known as a “barcode”).

Characters of a non-Roman alphabet

You should only enter characters from the Roman alphabet/script on the eTA application form. Example include A or a, B or b, and C or c. French accents like é, è, ê, ë, û are also acceptable. The responsibility to ensure that your name is shown in Roman script on the passport rests with the country of which you are a citizen.


Hopefully this article has provided you insights into avoiding common mistakes on your Canada eTA application. Although these mistakes may seem trivial, they can have adverse impacts on processing your application as well as cause issues when you are traveling to Canada or are at the Canadian border. Thus, paying attention and taking care when filling out the application form should be a priority.