What is an eTA (Electronic Travel Authorization)?

eTA electronic Travel Authorization CanadaSome visitors to Canada are exempt from visas because of their nationalitythe documents they hold, or their purpose of visiting Canada. For example, if you are a US citizen and intend to visit family members or tourist attractions in Canada, you do not need a visa. You enter Canada with your US passport. A Border Services Officer (BSO) usually allows you to stay in Canada for up to six months. The Government of Canada has made some significant changes to the visa-exemption program. Most visa-exempt people need to apply for an eTA or an electronic Travel Authorization if they travel by air to Canada or transit via Canada to another countryThe changes came into effect on March 15, 2016. US citizens do not need an eTA to go to Canada, but almost all other nationalities are not exempt from an eTA. However, US permanent residents such as Green Card holders need an eTA for air travel to Canada.

If you are a dual citizen of Canada, you do not need an eTA, but you need to prove you are a Canadian citizen. The easiest way to prove your citizenship is to hold a Canadian passport.

If you need a visa to travel to Canada, then you do not need an eTA. You have to apply for a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) instead.

If you intend to work or study in Canada, then an eTA is not sufficient. You may also need to apply for a work permit or a study permit.

The process of applying for an eTA is relatively easy. You need to fill out an online form on the IRCC website and pay the processing fee. The current processing fee is $7.00 (Canadian funds) per applicant. You need to apply separately for every family member who intends to accompany you to Canada unless they are exempt from an eTA.  If you get lucky, you will receive your eTA in a few minutes. Some people may receive an email from IRCC (Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada) requesting documents. These applications may take several days or even weeks to complete, so plan. Also, keep in mind that IRCC maintains the right to refuse some eTA applications.

If you find submitting your personal information to a foreign government concerning, you may consider hiring an authorized representative such as a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC).


If you already hold an eTA click here to see if it is still valid.

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Al Parsai, MA, DTM, RCIC
Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant
Ashton College Instructor – Immigration Consulting
Author – 88 Tips on Immigration to Canada

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Al Parsai

Al Parsai is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (class L3 RCIC-IRB – Unrestricted Practice) in Toronto, Canada. He is an adjunct professor at Queen's University Law School and Ashton College. Al, who holds a Master of Laws (LLM) degree from York University, is a member of CICC and CAPIC organizations. Al, the CEO of Parsai Immigration Services, has represented thousands of applicants from more than 50 countries to the immigration authorities since January 2011.

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