With borders starting to reopen and the world traveling freely again, one of the top travel destinations worth checking out this year is Canada. With its vibrant mix of cultures, beautiful natural landscapes, friendly people, and high-quality infrastructure, Canada is simply a wonderful country.
But to travel in Canada, you must make sure you have everything you need. Even if you don’t need a visa, you likely need an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) to be allowed into Canada, even if it’s just for a vacation. But what exactly is an eTA?
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What is an eTA?
An Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) is Canada’s travel permit for people travelling in Canada from countries deemed visa-exempt. It’s an electronic tag linked to your passport showing Canadian officials that you’re clear to travel in, pass through, or leave a Canadian airport.
It’s valid for a particular period of up to six months or for multiple periods over either five years or until your passport expires (whichever is first). An eTA allows you to visit Canada for short stays during this time. You don’t need an eTA to travel within Canada.
How do I know if I need it?
The Canadian government defines travellers in four different categories:
Travellers who need an eTA
A citizen of a visa-exempt country planning to enter Canada through an airport. An eTA will not be required if traveling by sea or land.
Travellers who may need an eTA
Citizens of some visa-required countries may be able to use eTAs in place of a travel visa when traveling by air. However, if they choose to travel by land or sea, they will need a visa.
Travelers who cannot apply for an eTA and need to carry other identification documents
Canadian, American-Canadian, or United States citizens need a valid passport. In addition, Canadian permanent residents need a valid permanent resident (PR) card or permanent resident travel document.
Permanent residency never expires, so those who gained permanent residence but no longer live in Canada still qualify for this category.
Travellers who are eTA exempt:
- US citizens, provided they carry a valid US passport.
- US permanent residents provided they carry official proof of status and valid travel documents (like a passport) from their country of nationality.
- Existing temporary residents of Canada
- Foreign diplomats
- Commercial aircrew
- French citizens from Miquelon and St. Pierre
- Travellers with a visa for the US on a layover in Canada on the way to the US
- A member of the armed forces from a designated state under the Visiting Forces Act
- Work or study permit holders on returns from either St. Pierre and Miquelon or the US
- Any member of the Royal Family
Below is a list of countries that qualify for an eTA:
Israel (passport holders)
Turks and Caicos
United Arab Emirates
Your Canada eTA application
If you fall into any qualifying categories, put together a Canada eTA application. Here’s how the process goes:
Step 1: Gather documents
You need your travel documents, a valid email address, and a credit or debit card to pay the application fee. The travel documents the Canadian government accepts for eTA applications are:
- Regular citizen
- Non-diplomatic government official, delegated under either:
- Official passport
- Service passport
- Emergency/temporary travel document
- Refugee travel document
- A travel document issued to non-citizens
- Permit to re-enter the US
- US refugee travel document
Step 2: Start your application online
First, read the application help document. Then, fill out the online application form on the Canadian government website.
Step 3: Submit and pay
Pay your CA$7 application fee.
Step 4: Correspondence
You should receive an email saying your application has been received and any further instructions.
What happens if you enter the wrong passport number?
Entering the wrong passport number may cause the Canadian government to reject your Canada eTA application. Therefore, ensure you enter the correct passport number. If you enter the wrong number, you may need to start the process again.
Once I have my eTA, what do I need to bring to the airport?
As it is an Electronic Travel Authorization, you’ll need to download the Canadian government’s free ArriveCan app. You’ll need to submit your information on the app at least 72 hours before your arrival in Canada. You’ll then be sent a receipt from the app saying you’ve submitted your information. Again, you must present this before entering Canada.
How long will it take to get an eTA?
Some requests can take several days to process, particularly if you need to provide further documentation. You should apply for your eTA before booking your flight to Canada if there are any issues or your application is rejected.
Need a hand?
Now you know the answer to what an eTA is, you still need to make sure your application is perfect. Visit CanadianVisa.org to learn more about the eTA application process or speak to a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC). RCICs can help you successfully apply and keep track of your application.