What is a Canada eTA and who needs it?

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What is a Canada eTA?

What is an Electronic Travel Authorization?

The eTA is an electronic travel authorization for travelers with a passport from eligible countries who want to travel to Canada by plane. Those from the list of eligble countries will need to get an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) as this is a mandatory requirement to be able to enter the country. A full list of eligible countries is shown on the eTA requirements page.

Once validated, the eTA is automatically tagged to your passport for up to five years or until such time as the passport expires, and when you apply for a new passport you will need to get a new eTA. Once you have a valid eTA you can travel to Canada as frequently as you wish for short stays of up to six months at a time.

However, an eTA doesn’t guarantee entry into Canada and you will be screened by border control officials when you arrive who will need to see your passport and any other relevant documents. Therefore, it is important to check what other evidence you may need to provide before you travel, such as a Green Card if you hold one and are travelling from the U.S.

Who needs an eTA to travel to Canada?

Depending on your country of origin you may fall into one of the following categories of traveler:

Travelers who need an eTA: visa-exempt visitors to Canada will need an eTA to visit the country, or if they are transitioning through the airport to another destination. However, these travelers do not require an eTA if arriving by land or sea transport such as by car or boat for example.

Travelers who may require an eTA: those travelers from countries requiring a visa to visit Canada may be eligible to apply for an eTA instead of a visa to travel to Canada by air and should check country specific information. However, travelers from this category will need a visitor visa if they are arriving by other means of transport such as trains, bus or by ship.

Travellers who do not need to apply for an eTA: Canadian citizens, including those who are dual citizens, do not need to apply for an eTA but will need a valid Canadian passport to travel in and out of the country by air. American-Canadians can travel with either a valid Canadian or U.S. passport. American citizens do not require an eTA and can travel Canada with a U.S. passport. See complete list of eTA exemptions for further information, including those who are former residents of Canada. For more information on exemptions, visit the eligibility section of the FAQ.

How to apply for an eTA for travel to Canada?

The eTA application process can be done online and usually takes just a few minutes to complete. Most applicants get their eTA approval within minutes via an email. However, certain requests can take a few days to process and may require submission of supporting documents. Therefore, it is advisable that you apply for an eTA in advance of your travel. You can only apply for one at a time if several members of your family, or group, need an eTA. In order to complete the online process you will need your passport, a credit or debit card and a valid email address. Approval for your eTA is through email so it is also important to check your junk mail folder in addition to your main email inbox.

During the application process you will also be required to answer a set of questions to complete the form and there will be a limited timescale to do this. However, you can extend your session by a few more minutes if you need to by clicking on the continue session box when the timeout warning appears. You can review the ‘help’ document to make sure you have everything that you need to complete the form. If you need to print out a receipt or confirmation you should do so at this stage of the process as the information will not be saved.

Documents to bring to the airport

Once your eTA is approved, it will be automatically linked to the passport that you used to apply, and you will need to present this to airline staff before you board your flight to or from Canada. Airport staff will scan your passport to check that your eTA is valid before you are able to board your flight. However, depending on what country you travel from and your status, you may need to bring other information or documentation with you, so it is necessary to check what other evidence is needed before you begin your trip.

Important summary information

If you are traveling by air from a country that does not require a visa for leisure or business the only stipulation is that you get an eTA – there is no additional requirement to apply for a visa, and the process can be completed quickly online before your journey.

If you are planning to work or study in Canada you will require a visa or other specific documentation, as holding an eTA does not permit work or study in the country.

Your data will collected securely when you apply for an eTA and no information is shared with any third parties. Any questions or further information about the eTA process can be obtained by using the contact form on the Visit Canada website.