Many tourists forget that when they travel to Canada without a visa, they need to be able to present an eTA Canada before getting on their flight. Travel organisations and airlines note that travellers frequently realize when trying to board their plane that they forgot to apply for an eTA Canada.
An eTA Canada is a digital travel document, with which the Canadian government grants the traveller permission to enter the country.
An idea for an active holiday in Canada, canoeing
About the eTA Canada
Since 10 November 2016, a new Canadian law entered into effect, making it impossible for British tourists to enter the country without having applied for a visa beforehand. This makes it mandatory to apply for an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA). There are a few exceptions where it is not necessary to apply for such a permit. For instance, for travellers that already have a valid Canadian passport or permanent resident permit.
Why apply for an eTA Canada
Without an eTA Canada it is impossible to enter the country. This rule applies to anyone that is travelling to or through Canada by plane. This means that as soon as you set foot on Canadian soil, you need to be able to provide this authorisation. Likewise, you also need to apply for a digital travel authorisation if you are simply on transit and staying at a Canadian airport for only a few hours.
Travellers are checked for either a visa or an eTA Canada. They need to possess a valid travel authorisation and a valid passport before departure. It is not possible to arrange this afterwards in Canada. You are already asked for both documents when boarding in the UK. It is forbidden for airlines to take along any tourists that do not possess an eTA Canada. If they do this anyway, they risk heavy fines.
Without an eTA Canada it is not possible to travel to Canada. That is why it is necessary to apply for this digital travel authorisation. This only applies to tourists and business travellers. If you want to live in Canada, study or work there, you need a different visa. It is not possible to apply for this visa online, you will need to go to the Canadian embassy.
How to apply for an eTA?
With an eTA it is possible to enter Canada an unlimited number of times. Each visit can last a maximum of six months. Furthermore, the passport must be valid for at least one more day after you leave the country. It is advised to maintain a longer period of six months; this makes it so the traveller is always safe with regards to time.
Applying for an eTA Canada can be easily done through the online application form. You do not need to visit the Canadian embassy. The cost of an application is £19.95 per person. It is also possible to submit an application in the weekend or during the holidays. You can fill in multiple people in a single application form; the price per person remains the same, however. Filling in an application takes about 5 minutes. It can take a while for the application to be approved, mainly because they are checked manually for mistakes. Closely check the information you fill in, in particular the passport information. Writing down incorrect information can lead to an eTA Canada being declared invalid. This can have serious consequences for your trip.
Because each application is checked by hand, it can take up to 72 hours before the application is approved. For this reason airlines and travel organisation strongly recommend applying for the eTA Canada well in advance. This can be done several weeks before departure. If you still forget to apply for the digital travel authorisation, it is possible to submit an urgent application. Generally, urgent application are approved within 18 minutes. This is not a guarantee, as the Canadian immigration service can always decide to do an extended background check. This can lead to an eTA Canada not arriving on time. Apply for it on time.
eTA or visa?
There are a few cases where an eTA is not necessary. Rule of thumb: if you are travelling to Canada without a visa, you need an eTA. This can be applied for online. This rule also applies to (underage) children. They cannot be included in the passports of their parents. Children must possess their own eTA and their own valid passport.
This is not a visa. This means that for purposes other than tourism, for example to study or work in Canada for a Canadian employer, or to live in Canada, the eTA will not suffice. You will need a different paper visa. This can be acquired at the Canadian embassy.
Take note: this news article about the eTA for Canada is more than one year old. It might contain outdated information and advice, and no rights can therefore be derived from this article. Are you going on a trip soon and do you wish to do know what rules currently apply? Read all about the up-to-date information about the eTA for Canada.