To travel to Canada, you’ll need the proper authorization to enter the country. For some people, this will come in the form of a visa, but for travelers who come from visa-exempt countries, it takes the form of electronic travel authorization, or eTA, for short. Applying for an eTA is a simple process and usually a quick one. Knowing what you need in order to apply is the best way to make the process as simple as possible.
Are you eligible for an eTA?
The first step in applying for an eTA is to determine whether you are eligible for one or whether you need to apply for a visitor visa. Check the list of visa-exempt countries available from Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to determine if your country is on the visa-exempt list. A few countries are not generally visa-exempt but allow some nationals to apply for an eTA. If you’re from the United States, you usually won’t need a visa or an eTA; just keep your passport or other forms of identification when you travel.
Whether you need an eTA also depends on your method of travel. If you’re arriving in Canada by land or water, you don’t need either an eTA or a visa if you’re visa-exempt. You only need an eTA if you intend to fly into Canada.
What do you need to apply for an eTA?
To apply for an eTA, you’ll need a few things. The application is online, so you’ll need to be able to access the application site. You’ll also need a credit or debit card to pay the application fee, as well as the passport that you’ll be using to travel. Your eTA will be linked to that passport, so make sure that you apply with the same passport you intend to travel on.
Filling out the application
The online application for an eTA should only take a few minutes to complete. You’ll need to answer a few questions about your personal details and transcribe some information from your passport. Despite this being a quick process, it’s essential to do it carefully. If there’s a mistake in your details, such as an incorrect passport number, you may not be able to travel.
Another key piece of information in the application is your email address. This address will be used to update you on the status of your email application, so be sure that you enter it correctly and that it is an address you check regularly.
Once you’ve provided this information, you’ll be asked a series of questions about your medical, criminal, and immigration history. Once you’ve answered them, it’s just a matter of signing the form and paying the application fee.
You can apply for one eTA at once, so if you need to apply for more than one person (for instance, if you’re traveling as a family), you’ll need to repeat the process for each person who needs an eTA. Additionally, you can’t save or return an application, so ensure you have the time and information you need to submit your application when you start.
Once you’ve submitted your application
After submitting your application, you should receive an email telling you that it has been received. This typically takes only a few minutes. In many cases, you’ll receive an email notifying you that your application has been accepted shortly afterward.
However, not every eTA application is processed within minutes, and the fact that your application is taking longer isn’t a cause for concern. Many applications take a few hours or even longer to process; most are processed within 24 hours.
However, some applications can take longer to process. This could occur because you need to submit additional documents supporting the application. If this happens, you will receive a notification within 72 hours telling you what to do. Once you’ve submitted them, these additional documents must be reviewed before IRCC processes your application. As a result, this type of application can take some additional days to process.
Although it is possible that your application could take 72 hours or more, the vast majority of eTA applications go through within a few hours or even a few minutes.
What this means for your eTA application
Although the majority of eTA applications go through very quickly, there is the possibility that yours may take a little longer. This means you must begin your eTA application as far in advance of your journey as possible. An eTA is valid for up to five years or until your passport’s expiration date, whichever is earlier, so you don’t have to worry about it expiring before your trip. Allowing extra time between your application and your flight will give you a margin for error in the unlikely event of an application that takes longer than normal.
Traveling with your eTA
Once you’ve completed your application and received word that it’s been approved, you’re ready to travel. Because the authorization is electronic, you don’t need to print out or carry any other document. When your passport is scanned at the border, the eTA linked to it will also be detected, and you’ll be able to enter the country without delay.
As always, remember that although an eTA authorizes you to fly to Canada, the final decision on whether to admit you to the country rests with the border services officer. You can be denied admission even with an eTA, although such cases are rare.