What makes a traveller eligible for a Canada eTA?

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Canada eTA Eligibility

It is quite common for travellers who qualify to visit Canada with a Canadian Electronic Travel Authorization, often referred to as an eTA, Unfortunately, not everybody qualifies to get such an eTA. If you want to know whether you qualify to get an eTA, read on. Below we also discuss alternative travel documentation for those who do not qualify.

Requirements to be eligible for a Canadian eTA

Canadian eTAs are only available to certain categories of travellers. Depending on your country of citizenship, you might not qualify to get an eTA – or you could perhaps not need an eTA at all.

The good news is that, if you are a citizen of the United States, there is no need for an eTA if you want to visit Canada. In fact, you do not even need a visa. All you need to is a valid passport. Please note, however, that border security can still refuse you entry.

If your country of citizenship is on Canada’s visa-exempt list, you qualify to get a Canadian eTA. In order to enter the country, you will have to apply for one.

You might be unable to apply for a Canadian eTA for any of the following reasons:

If your country is not on Canada’s visa-exempt list, then you will not be able to apply for an eTA. The same is true in the case of refugees whose country of citizenship is on the visa required list. Another group of people who can not visit Canada on an eTA are stateless individuals. They have to apply for a visa instead.

There is no need for individuals who are permanent residents of Canada to apply for an eTA. All they need to enter the country is a permanent resident travel document. People who have dual citizenship also do not need an eTA or a visa to enter Canada. They should simply use their Canadian passport if they want to visit that country.

Reasons why a Canadian eTA application could be declined

It is important to notice at this stage that the mere fact that you qualify to apply for a Canadian eTA does not mean that your application will automatically be approved. There are various reasons why an eTA application might be denied.

The first reason why your eTA application might be declined is if you are guilty of having committed serious human rights abuses. The same is true if you belong to, or are in any way connected with such a group or groups.

A second reason why your application might be refused is if you have been found guilty of a crime. The list of crimes includes obvious candidates such as murder and similar misdemeanors. But it might surprise you to learn that having a DUI on your driving history can also make you ineligible to get a Canadian eTA.

The third issue that could negatively impact your chances of being successful with a Canadian eTA application is if you have a serious health condition. There are many health-related questions on the application form, including ones about your tuberculosis status.

The fourth reason why you might not qualify for an eTA is if you had to be removed from a country at some stage, or if you overstayed your visa. If you in the past overstayed a Canadian eTA or visa, or you were removed from that country, it is very unlikely that your eTA application will be approved. If you overstayed or were removed from another country, your application might be approved or not – depending on which country it was, and the circumstances involved.

What other options are there if I do not qualify for a Canadian eTA?

If you do not qualify for a Canadian eTA, you might still qualify to get a visa or some other type of travel documentation. The vast majority of individuals who do not qualify for an eTA will be able to apply for a visa.

Canadian permanent residents should enter Canada with a PRTD (Permanent Resident Travel Document). People who do not qualify for a PRTD, visa, or an eTA, most likely do not qualify to visit Canada at all.

Luckily, if your eTA application is not approved, you are not without options. If you have good reasons to believe that the rejection was an error, one option is to appeal it. In this case, you will have to approach the FCC (Federal Court of Canada) to get your application reviewed.

The only way to do this is to appoint a lawyer and ask him or her to submit a judicial review request to the court. It is not recommended that you simply submit a new application without trying to get a court review since the core reason for the rejection will still not have been addressed.

Alternative ways to visit Canada

If you want to enter Canada, an eTA is definitely not your only option. If you do not qualify to get an eTA, you might very well qualify for a different type of travel document. Below are a couple of options you should consider:

1. Tourist visa. For travellers whose countries are not exempt from Canadian visas, an option is to apply for a Canadian tourist visa. The downside of applying for a visa is that the application process is more expensive and takes longer than applying for an eTA. A plus, however, is that an approved visa is valid for much longer than an eTA (twice as long, to be precise).

2. Work visa. You should note that when we refer to ‘visa-exempt’ this does not include study visas or work visas. If you intend to work while in Canada, applying for an eTA is a mistake because this document does not authorize you to take up paid employment in that country. Your best option would be to submit an application for a work visa.

3. Student visa. An approved eTA also does not authorize you to become a student in Canada. If you plan to study while you are in that country, you have to apply for a student visa.

4. Business visa. If your visit to Canada will be related to business activities and not tourism, you should apply for a business visa instead. This type of visa differs from a work visa in one important aspect: you are only allowed to do business in Canada, not take up a job.

5. Transit visa. If you will just be passing through Canadian territory, you can apply for a transit visa instead of a tourist visa.

6. Permanent resident card. People who are permanent Canadian residents, most likely have PRTD. You do not qualify for an eTA with this document, simply because there is no need for it. You can already freely enter Canada.


Depending on your particular circumstances and your country of citizenship, you might not qualify to get a Canadian eTA. Even though not everybody qualifies to get one, however, it is very likely that you will find a different way to visit Canada. The Canadian immigration website has more detail about eligibility and the application process.