If your plans for the future include applying for a Canadian eTA, you are most likely not sure when would be the best time to do it. Should you apply as soon as possible, or is it better to wait until a few days before the trip to Canada starts?
The answer is that there are no hard and fast rules about when you should submit your application. There are, however, a couple of solid principles to keep in mind. Below are a few tips to help you with your decision about when exactly to submit the eTA application.
Is it best to apply right before your departure to Canada?
Many travellers opt to wait until a few days before their trip to Canada starts before applying for the eTA. This should normally work out just fine, at least theoretically, because the eTA application itself doesn’t take a lot of time, and processing is typically completed in a couple of minutes.
Although many people will tell you that they had no problem with their eTA application even a few hours before they left for Canada, we can not recommend this approach.
Why should one avoid submitting a Canadian eTA application at the last moment?
The number one reason is that there are so many things that could go wrong. In the first place, the application might not be processed as quickly as you expect. There are a variety of issues that can lead to your eTA application being flagged – in which case it will have to be processed manually. Two of them are specific health concerns and whether or not you have a criminal history.
You might not believe that there is anything about your application that will concern the Canadian authorities, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
A second possibility is that, while your application is being manually processed, you could be asked to submit additional documents before things can be finalized. You might also have to comply with one or more requests. Having to provide one or more supporting documents could take quite a while. And so could having to renew your passport if you are asked to do so by the official who is manually reviewing your application.
A third possibility is that you might run into technical issues, either with the eTA processing website or with your personal computer.
You will be able to easily deal with all of these issues if you leave enough time between your eTA application and your departure to Canada.
Is there any need to apply months or even years before I travel to Canada?
With everything that could potentially go wrong and delay you getting an approved eTA ahead of your trip, you might perhaps wonder if it’s better to apply the moment you decide to travel to Canada, regardless of whether this is a month or a year before the time.
The answer might surprise you. If you will not be traveling to Canada for a few months or even longer, you would most likely be better off by waiting until closer to your departure date before applying.
For what reason should one not apply for a Canadian eTA too early?
There are actually two very good reasons.
In the first place, your approved eTA will not be valid for an unlimited time. A Canadian eTA is valid for a 5-year period. As soon as the application has been approved, the clock will begin ticking. For example: If you apply today and you only plan to travel to Canada four years from now, your eTA will only be valid for another year by the time your trip starts.
The best way to get the maximum benefit from your eTA is to apply at least four weeks but not longer than twelve weeks before your trip commences. This will give you enough time to gather any additional documentation that might be required or to have your passport renewed if requested while ensuring that you don’t unnecessarily shorten the lifetime of your approved eTA.
In the second place,, if you submit an application too early, the information you supplied on the eTA application may no longer be valid by the time you arrive in Canada. One example is that your home address might change. You might also have a new passport with a different number by the time you enter Canada. In both these cases, you could face unnecessary problems.
When is the best time to apply for a Canadian eTA?
Taking into account the experience of many travellers before you, it is probably best to apply for your Canadian eTA between one and three months before your trip starts. That will ensure that the information on your application is still valid, but you will also have enough time to handle any issues that might arise such as getting additional documents or having your passport renewed.