What is a Canada eTA (Electronic Travel Authorization)?
Since 2016, eTA has been a mandatory entry requirement for visa-exempt foreign nationals who are planning to travel to Canada by air. The authorization is linked electronically to your passport and is valid for five years or until your passport expires, whichever date comes first. An eTA can be used for transit, tourism, or business visits of up to six months.
An approved eTA confirms a foreign national’s eligibility to travel to Canada visa-free and serves as visa waiver document. While a visa waiver such as the eTA serves almost the same purpose as a visa, the method of obtaining one is much different from that for obtaining a visa. Applying for a standard Canada visitor visa is a more time consuming process, but eTA applicants are usually notified of a decision within minutes.
Who needs a Canadian eTA?
An eTA is not necessary for all foreign nationals who decide to travel to Canada. The eTA requirements affect travellers visiting from visa exempt countries, such as certain European nations, as well as those from Australia and New Zealand will be affected by the new process. Any foreign national whose home country is not included in any visa waiver agreements with Canada will have their visa requirements unaffected by the introduction of the Canada eTA.
I'm a U.S. or Canadian citizen, do I need an eTA?
No. U.S. or Canadian citizens or permanent residents are exempt from the eTA requirement.
I already have a Canadian travel visa but also hold a passport for a visa-exempt country, do I need an eTA?
No, you can travel on your existing passport that has the approved Canadian travel visa. If you wish, you can apply for an eTA using the passport of the visa exempt country.
How do I apply for a Canadian eTA?
The entire eTA application process is web-based. Thus, filing an application, from submission all the way to receiving authorization, is relatively straightforward. Any visa exempt traveller will need to access the CIC (Citizenship and Immigration Canada) website and submit their application details. Once an eTA application is approved, the eTA applicant will be notified via email. An approved eTA is required before boarding an airplane to Canada. Travellers who do not obtain an approved eTA will not be allowed to board regardless if their eTA application is still in processing.
The online application takes approximately ten minutes per traveller. You will need to ensure you have the passport, travel and contact details of each traveller, along with a credit or debit card to pay the eTA fee per submitted application. Each traveller in your group or family will need an approved eTA. Once approved, an eTA will be valid for up to five years upon issuance. If you are eligible, you can apply for eTA now.
Is a visa required if I am simply passing through Canada without stopping?
If you’re a citizen of a country that is not visa-exempt for Canada travel, then you will need a transit visa in order to pass through Canada without stopping or visiting. This is required even if your transit will take less than 48 hours, however there is no fee for a transit visa. Fill out the application for a visitor visa (Temporary Resident Visa) and select transit visa from the list of options on the form.
If you enjoy visa exempt status and now require an eTA to visit Canada, then you will also need an eTA to pass through Canada.
You may not need either a transit visa or an eTA if you are travelling to or from the United States. If certain foreign nationals meet specific requirements then the Transit Without Visa Program (TWOV) and the China Transit Program (CTP) allows them to transit through Canada on their way to and from the United States without a Canadian transit visa.
Can I still travel to Canada if I've submitted my eTA application yet have not received a final decision?
No, you may not board any Canada-bound aircraft until your eTA is approved. Even if you have been requested to provide supporting documentation and emailed evidence back to IRCC, you are still not authorized to travel to Canada until you receive an approved eTA.
Can I apply for an eTA on behalf of someone else?
Yes, if you are the parent or legal guardian of a minor under the age of 18, or have permission to apply on behalf of someone in your travel group, you may do so.
You will need to indicate on the eTA application form that you are applying on behalf of someone else as well as specify your relationship to the applicant.
Please ensure you have all the required passport, contact, employment, travel and other background information to complete the application on behalf of someone else. Mistakes cannot be corrected on eTA application and require a fresh application submission as well as may cause processing delays. Thus, applicants are advised to always enter the information carefully in the form.
Do I have a chance of getting an eTA with a criminal record?
Yes, you can still apply for an eTA and you are given the ability to explain the circumstances around any convictions or other criminal history. The explanations you provide will be reviewed, thus you are given a chance to make your case for an eTA.
What are the advantages of the eTA system?
The main purpose of this system is to identify those individuals who are not eligible to enter Canada in a timely manner. Because those people who are considered undesirable or inadmissible, such as those with criminal records or no fly orders can be quickly identified through this system - the screening and obviously the travelling for those who actually qualify can be made more effectual and effortless as well.
What will the eTA system cost the Canadian tax payers?
At the dollar’s current value it is estimated that the analysis period (2015 - 2024) of the eTA scheme will cost $167.74 million. The net impact of these new regulations is negligible so stakeholders will have no net costs either.
While calculating the costs above, the GoC assumed that it will collect an average of $23.1 million per year in eTA application fees and that they will be saving an anticipated $1.8 million per year in the costs associated with removing undesirable parties from Canada. According to the Gazette, the CBSA has estimated that it costs between $398.00 and $798.00 per inadmissible individual, depending on how long they are detained for. In comparison the eTA system will cost $23.3 million to establish and just $19.5 million per year for administration.
The tourism industry may incur some marketing costs if they choose to advertise eTA requirements to any foreign nationals who may be interested in visiting Canada.
While the eTA does not fall within the scope of the CBA, it is conceded that visitors from visa exempt countries (besides certain exceptions) will need to pay a fee to obtain an eTA and also take the time to do so. For the vast majority though, this will take just minutes and the fee shouldn’t be a deterrent.
It is also conceded that tourism may experience some short term impact due to the transition to eTA, however it is not believed that these will result in any permanent implications for the tourism in Canada demand. The potential drop in tourism will be balanced by the uncomplicated nature of the eTA program, the fact that it is valid for five years. Potential drops will be further allayed by more distinct and personal risk assessments than what was possible before.
Visitors entering Canada via land or sea ports will not require an eTA however it is not believed that there will be a surge in demand at these ports as it will be communicated that they will undergo the same thorough inspection regimes as before. It is also not believed that the application fee will result in potential visitors wanting to switch their mode of transportation. There will probably be an adjustment period though as visitors are made aware that inspection regimes for all ports of entry despite the eTA requirement.
However it has been noted that the GoC may not have considered the increased resources needed to process Temporary Resident Permits (TRP’s) for visa exempt foreign nationals who are inadmissible. Also, there will probably be a problem with visa exempt foreign nationals whose permanent resident cards have expired. Before they could board a plane and arrive in Canada without the CBS realizing they were permanent residents. This will lead to an increase with Canada’s residency requirements but also to increases Permanent Resident Travel Documents needing to be issued and Immigration Appeal Division cases.