Are you travelling to Canada for business or pleasure? Lucky you! But before you pack your bags and board the plane, there’s a Canadian travel requirement you should be aware of.  Since March 15, 2016, visa-exempt foreign nationals flying to or through Canada, including those who hold a work permit but are visa-exempt, have been required to have an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA).

Here is some helpful information about Canada’s eTA. This article was updated in November 2018.

What is Canada’s new eTA?

The purpose of Canada’s eTA is to screen passengers before they arrive in the country. The eTA is connected electronically to each traveller’s passport, and it is valid for up to five years, or until the passport expires (whichever comes first).

Who needs to apply for an eTA? And who does not?

The Canadian government recognizes four different categories of travellers.

  • Travellers who need an eTA: All visa-exempt foreign nationals, including those travelling on a work permit or study permit are expected to have an eTA, if they are flying to or transit through a Canadian airport. Those arriving by car, bus, train, boat or ship do NOT need an eTA. Permanent residents of the U.S. are required to have an eTA as well as a valid Green Card and a passport at check-in. (See the complete list of visa-exempt nationalities online.
  • Travellers who may be eligible to apply for an eTA: As of May 2017, foreign nationals from selected visa-required countries (Brazil, Bulgaria, and Romania) may apply for an eTA instead of a visa if arriving by air. They will still need a visa, however, if travelling by car, bus, train or boat.
  • Travellers who cannot apply for an eTA and need to carry other identification: Canadian citizens are required to carry a Canadian passport. Canadian-Americans with dual citizenship must carry a passport from at least one country or the other. Canadian permanent residents are required to carry a permanent resident card or permanent resident travel document.
  • Travellers who are exempt from the eTA requirement: U.S. citizens need only carry valid identification, such as a U.S. passport. See the complete list of eTA exemptions on the government website.

How to apply for an eTA

Applying for Canada’s eTA is relatively simple. To complete the online form, you will need:

  • a valid passport from a visa-exempted country,
  • credit or debit card (in order to pay the $7 CAD fee), and
  • a valid email address.

When you have those items ready, simply apply online through Canadian Immigration. After you apply, your eTA will be electronically linked to your passport. This means you won’t need to carry any additional documentation, as long as you have your passport.

Most applicants receive their eTA within a matter of minutes, which means you may be able to apply at the last minute, using your smart phone at the airport. However, the application process could take several days, if they request supporting documents. So you may want apply in advance, as soon as you purchase your ticket.

If you would like more information, visit the Canada Immigration and Citizenship eTA webpage. You can also take a look at our other articles about Canadian Visas and Immigration.

If you’re planning on visiting Canada for an extended stay, or even permanently, you may consider contacting ARIANNE Relocation Specialists. For more than 20 years we’ve been helping families and professionals move to Canada, get comfortable, and put down roots in their new land. Visit our website to read about the many ways we can help you.

Happy travels!

Further reading

To learn even more about Canadian visas and immigration procedures, check out some of our other in-depth articles.