An eTA is what is called an electronic travel authorization which is electronically linked to your passport and is for people from visa-exempt countries who wish to visit Canada by air travel. It is not needed if you arrive in Canada by car, bus, boat, or train.

You will need your eTA when you board your flight to Canada. That is, you will have to present your passport and your eTA (electronically) in order to be able to board the flight at your airport overseas.

Who Needs an eTA?

Specifically, there are several classes of travellers who need an eTA to fly to Canada.

Travellers who require an eTA:

  • Foreign nationals from visa-exempt countries. Go here to see if your country is visa-exempt for travel to Canada.
  • Lawful permanent residents of the U.S. You must also present your passport along with your eTA.

Foreign nationals from the following 3 countries may be eligible for visa-exempt travel and can fly to Canada with an eTA:

  • Brazil
  • Bulgaria
  • Romania

However, travellers who are nationals (citizens) of Brazil, Bulgaria, and Romania must also comply with the following conditions to qualify for an eTA:

  • They have held a Canadian visitor visa during the past 10 years OR who currently have a US non-immigrant visa
  • They will fly to or transit through a Canadian airport using a valid Brazilian, Bulgarian, or Romanian passport.
  • They will come for a visit (6 months or less); for a short business visit or tourist activity.
  • If they are travelling to Canada by car, bus, train, or boat (including cruise ships that dock briefly in Canada) they must travel with a standard visa.

Then there are those travellers who cannot apply for an eTA and must use their passports or other travel documents:

  • Canadian citizens need their passport to travel by air from and to Canada.
  • Dual Canadian citizens will need their Canadian passport to travel to and from Canada – along with their other passport should that be necessary.
  • Dual Canadian American citizens can travel with either passport.
  • Foreign nationals who have acquired PR status but have not resided in Canada for a period of time may still have their PR status. Go here for more information. If you still have PR status, this means that when you travel back to Canada you will need your home country passport along with either:
    • Permanent Resident card, OR
    • Permanent Resident travel document

Finally, there are those travellers who are exempt from the eTA requirements:

  • S. citizens are exempt from both visa requirements and eTA requirements but must carry proper identification. It is suggested you carry your passport when flying to Canada although NEXUS card holders can use their nexus cards rather than a passport. FAST card holders must use a passport when flying to Canada.
  • Two other exceptions are travellers under these programs:
  • Transit Without Visa program for qualifying travellers who are transiting through Canada on their way from or to the U.S.
  • China Transit program for qualifying Chinese nationals who are transiting through Canada on their way from or to the U.S.
  • Go here to see the full list of exemptions.

How to Apply for an eTA

You should always apply on the government of Canada’s website, even if using a representative (like an immigration lawyer or an immigration consultant). It is generally a very quick process that takes a matter of minutes before you receive an email from Canadian immigration authorities granting you your eTA. There are sometimes delays, however, in order to ascertain or clarify information. The delays generally last up to a few days.

Here are the main steps

Step I Get your passport and credit or debit card ready. Then read the help document which you can find here by scrolling to the bottom of the page.

Step II Use the online form to apply. Remember to note down exactly what you filled in just in case you have to correct any mistakes in the event your eTA is refused because of errors you made. The online form cannot be saved, so either write down the information or take a screen shot of each of the relevant pages.

Step III As soon as you complete the form pay the CAD $ 7 fee online using your credit or debit card.

Step IV You will soon (often within minutes) receive an email from Canadian immigration authorities informing you about your eTA application. Most applications are approved within minutes of filling out the online form and paying the fee.

Step V If more information is needed and you have to submit documents, you will receive an email within 72 hours informing you of what documents are required.

What Can You do if Your eTA is refused?

The reasons for refusing an eTA may be several, including:

  • Concerns about security risks
  • Concerns about criminal records
  • Concerns about people related to you who might be security risks or have criminal records
  • Concerns about certain health problems you may have which may cause health risks in Canada
  • Inconsistencies in your application or inconsistencies with information the immigration authorities have access to and what you filled out in your eTA online application
  • Mistakes you made in filling out the form that provoked concerns of any kind

If your eTA has been refused you may appeal to the Federal Court of Appeals in Canada. However, this is normally an expensive and time-consuming process as you normally would need to pay for a legal representative (a lawyer) and present compelling evidence that outweigh or negate any concerns Canadian immigration authorities may have about your admissibility.

If, on the other hand, you realize you have made a mistake in filling out your original application, then you can apply again, and this time fill in the information with greater care. Your original fee is not refundable but at CAD $ 7, this is a reasonable cost to bear in order to set the record straight.

One simple but key thing to remember is to always make sure that the passport number you give when filling out the application form is accurate. And make sure that you use the same passport you will be using when travelling. This might seem obvious but filling in a slightly mistaken passport number will likely mean you will be unable to board your flight to Canada. In the help document you will find several tips about ensuring your passport number is accurate such as:

  • Finding the right number in your passport, which is generally the number on the personal information page near your photograph.
  • Be careful to use 0 (not O) and to use 1 (and not I).
  • Do NOT fill in spaces or hyphens or other characters that are not numbers or letters

The same applies for your name. Enter exactly the same name as listed in your passport in the same order. If apostrophes are used in your name (like O’Neil) then use an apostrophe when filling out your application form.

Finally, if your eTA has been refused you may attempt to apply for a standard travel visa through a VAC (Visa application centre) near you. Being refused for an eTA does not mean that you will necessarily have a travel visa refused as well and a visa application process is needless to say more detailed and time-consuming. So this means that it will allow you to present more documents and information about yourself which may help immigration authorities in Canada decide that you are, in fact, admissible to the country.

More about eTA:

hisMaxancan Immigration is located in Markham, Ontario and serves the Greater Toronto Area. But we can help with your visa issues wherever you are.