Travellers that apply for a digital visa for the United States or Canada have to deal with strict rules. The visa that is required for British travellers to gain access to the United States is the ESTA (USA). The digital visa necessary for Canada is the eTA (Canada).
Both countries maintain strict rules for a valid visa for the United States and Canada. Even after the visa has been issued, it can be retracted on arrival. This can be the case if, for example, the traveller was not entirely honest or provided incorrect information during the application.
ESTA and eTA
Both the ESTA USA, as well as the eTA Canada can be applied for digitally and are mandatory when travelling to the United States or Canada. The application takes about 5 minutes. The visa is often issued within a few hours. When you are travelling to Canada and/or the United States, an additional investigation might take place. For instance, if you have a criminal record.
Travelling with an eTA
The eTA is generally valid for five years, or until the passport with which the eTA was applied for expires. If you are travelling to Canada, you would do well to closely read the requirements for the eTA.
Forbidden in the United States
It can be wise to read up on the legislation of the USA and Canada, to better prepare for your trip. For instance, possession of weed can lead to severe punishment, more so than in the UK, as the USA has a very strict drug policy, Similarly, items like knives or remains of animals cannot be imported just like that. The same holds for food. These can lead to problems in the native ecosystem.
If you still bring any of these items, you can risk various punishments. In most cases, this is likely to be a hefty fine. So keep in mind, if you are offered food in the plane, you cannot bring it into the country. Leave these things in the plane. With things like alcohol or drugs you might even be arrested and prosecuted. Make sure you have no remnants present in your suitcase, no matter how small.
Forbidden in Canada
When travelling to Canada, it is important to be honest about any possible criminal record you might have. For instance, Canada has strict rules regarding drinking and driving, also known as DUIʼs (Driving Under the Influence). If you have a prior write-up for drunk driving, there is a realistic chance you will be denied an eTA application.
The majority of crimes which can lead to the eTA Canada being retracted are sexual offenses and other violent crimes. Canada has fairly extreme entry requirements. In other countries, a conviction might mean that the perpetrator has served their punishment, but in Canada, it can mean that you will not be allowed in.
In these cases, it is advised to contact an immigration lawyer. Even if your case is pending, it can still lead to Canada denying you entry. This is because in the past, many people fled to Canada to escape their punishment. Read more about the eTA requirements.
Canada eTA application
A digital eTA for Canada can be arranged in 5 minutes through this website. The costs are £19.95 per person. It is important to have an eTA in your possession before departure. Airlines cannot bring any travellers along that cannot present a valid eTA Canada. You are checked for this before boarding. An eTA is mandatory for all travellers with a British nationality, as well as most European countries. Read more about the eTA Canada application procedure.
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.