Why is my Canada eTA approval pending?

with No Comments
Why is my Canada eTA approval pending?

The application process for a Canadian eTA is normally relatively easy and fast. Sometimes, however, things do not go according to plan. You might have done your very best to enter all the information correctly, yet you could still get that dreaded ‘Pending’ notice because there are unresolved issues with your eTA authorization.

So what exactly went wrong? What possible reasons could there be for your eTA application not being processed immediately? Below we set out a few of the most frequently occurring reasons for a Canadian eTA application not being approved automatically within a few minutes.

You made a mistake somewhere on the application form

One of the most common errors is people mistyping their passport numbers. Don’t think it can’t happen to you. You only have to mistype one digit or accidentally switch two digits for your application to be flagged for manual review. If you make an error like this on the application form, the least that will probably happen is that the approval process will be delayed. You may also have to submit a new application form.

This scenario can really be avoided quite easily. When filling out the application form, be extremely careful when entering your passport number, name and the various dates. And we have to say this again: when you are done, take a minute or two to double-check every bit of information you have entered on the form.

There is some good news though: a minor clerical error or a typo will normally not result in your eTA application being completely rejected, i.e. you will not be able to travel to Canada on an eTA. Small mistakes will typically result in you having to rectify the situation by filling out and sending in a new eTA application form.

They found your name in a security database

This one is much more serious. If, during the vetting process, your name pops up on a list of people related to security issues, your application will not be automatically approved. It will be flagged and a human agent will go through it manually. One of the issues that could cause this to happen is if you have a criminal record. Another one is if you are in some way or another linked to organized crime and/or human rights violations. You application might also be flagged for manual review if you are linked to any other type of security issue raised by Canadian immigration staff.

You have been found guilty of driving a vehicle while under the influence

If there is one reason why people should never even dream of driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, it’s this one. If you have been found guilty of driving a vehicle while your judgement was negatively affected by a substance, it’s very likely that your eTA application will be flagged and later reviewed manually. Depending on the seriousness of the violation, there is a good chance that it will be rejected.

You have health issues

On the eTA application form you have to enter details regarding your health history. One of the questions, for example, is whether you’ve ever suffered from tuberculosis. And if you had close contact with someone who suffered from tuberculosis you have to reveal this fact. You are also presented with a dropdown menu and asked to choose any conditions you suffer from. Depending on the circumstances, a health concern could cause a delay in your eTA being authorized since the application is likely to be flagged for manual processing.

Your application was flagged for another reason

The vast majority of eTA applications are approved or rejected by a computerized system within a few minutes. If the system, however, picks up anything out of the ordinary it will flag your application for manual review. Although the most common reasons are related to one or more of the issues listed above, the algorithm used to determine whether an application is flagged or not is more complex than that. If it finds anything that raises a red flag it will mark the application for human review.


After going through the above list of possible causes why your eTA application might be delayed, you will most likely be able to figure out what went wrong and why your authorization shows up as pending.

Chances are good that you will be informed whether your eTA application has been approved well before the start of your trip to Canada. That is, unless you waited until the last possible moment before applying. I hate to sound like a preacher here, but there is only one way to make sure there will be enough time to deal with possible delays in your eTA application, and that is by applying as early as possible. So if you are reading this because you plan a trip to Canada but you haven’t applied for an eTA yet, do it sooner rather than later.