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Electronic Travel Authorization – What Is It and Who Needs It?
An Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) is an electronic travel document that you may need if you are a citizen from one of more than 50 visa-exempt countries traveling to Canada to visit, or transiting through, by air. Essentially, if you do not need a visa to travel to Canada and you are not a US citizen, then you need an eTA before you fly. If you are traveling by land or sea, you do not need an eTA.
Airlines may refuse to let you board a plane to Canada if you have not obtained an eTA.
The eTA requirement has been in effect since November 2016, with updates in May 2017, but many travelers still are not aware that they need it, or how to obtain it.
Canadian Permanent Residents, US Citizens, and Dual-Canadian Citizens
Canadian permanent residents do not need an eTA but should always travel with their permanent resident card or travel document or they risk not being allowed to re-enter Canada.
If you are a US citizen, you do not need to get an eTA to board a flight to Canada. US permanent residents (i.e. green card holders); however, still need to get an eTA until they obtain a green card.
Canadians with dual citizenship will face difficulty re-entering Canada unless they show a Canadian passport. The eTA is linked to the traveler’s passport, so, if you hold two passports, did not get an eTA because you are a citizen and decide to travel with your EU passport, then you could run into issues. As a guideline, Canadian citizens should always use their Canadian passport as their travel document when re-entering Canada. Don’t have a Canadian passport? You will need to get one before you travel.
Brazilian, Bulgarian and Romanian Nationals with US Nonimmigrant Status
Updates were made to the eTA rules in May 2017. The new rules cover Brazilian, Bulgarian and Romanian nationals and allow them to apply for eTAs if they:
• Have had a Canadian temporary resident visa in the last 10 years (counted from the date they make their application, not from the date the rule came into effect); and
• Have a valid US nonimmigrant (NIV) visa when the eTA application is submitted.
If nationals from these three countries do not meet these requirements, they still need a temporary resident visa before visiting Canada.
How to Obtain an eTA
The good news is, the process is fairly simple for most people. You can easily go to the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada website, fill out an online form and pay a nominal fee to apply.
Most applicants receive their eTA approval within the same business day. In other cases, additional review and processing may be required and delays can be experienced. This is why it is important to apply in advance to make sure that you are not stuck without one on your travel date.
Once issued, your eTA is linked to the passport you used to apply, so there is no need to print anything or bring anything extra in your carry-on. The eTA is electronically linked, so there is no need to mail in your passport.
If approved, you will get a confirmation email. If further screening is needed, an officer will contact you to let you know what additional documents they may need and the process to submit them. If your application is refused, the reasons will be emailed to you.
Workers and Students
Only visa-exempt visitors need to apply for an eTA. If you apply for a work or study permit, an eTA will be automatically included, or linked, to your status document.
With one exception – if you applied for your work or study permit before August 1, 2015, and you have not received an extension since, then you will need to apply online for an eTA because the program was not yet in effect.
Passport and eTA Expiry
It is important to note that your eTA will be linked to your passport. So, if your passport expires, so does your eTA. Whenever you renew your passport, make sure you go back online and reapply for your eTA so it is up to date and always linked.
Otherwise, eTAs expire five years after they are issued and need to be renewed once they expire.