This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada staff. It is posted on the Department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.
Subsection 11(1.01) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act creates the requirement for all visa-exempt foreign nationals to apply for an electronic travel authorization (eTA) and establishes the means by which that application must be made (i.e., through the electronic system). Subsection 7.1(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations creates the requirement for these foreign nationals to obtain an eTA before entering Canada, unless they are otherwise exempted.
As of March 15, 2016, visa-exempt foreign nationals who fly to Canada or transit through Canada are expected to have an eTA. However, from March 15, 2016 until fall 2016, travellers who do not have an eTA can board their flight, as long as they have appropriate travel documents, such as a valid passport. See What are the key dates for the implementation of the eTA program? below.
- What is an eTA?
- Who needs an eTA?
- Who does not need an eTA?
- How much does an eTA cost?
- How do clients apply for an eTA?
- For how long is an eTA valid?
- How does the eTA application assessment process work?
- How will the eTA requirement be enforced?
- What are the key dates for implementation of the eTA program?
What is an eTA?
The eTA is a new entry requirement for visa-exempt, non-U.S. foreign nationals travelling to Canada by air – land, sea and rail modes are not in scope.
Implementation of the eTA program will allow Canada to pre-screen eTA-required travellers to ensure that they are admissible to Canada.
Who needs an eTA?
An eTA is required of all visa-exempt foreign nationals, except United States citizens and certain other small exempt groups.
Section 190 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations describes individuals that are exempt from the requirement to obtain a temporary resident visa. These individuals therefore require an eTA.
Individuals who require an eTA (nationality)
- Antigua and Barbuda
- British citizens
- British overseas citizen who is re-admissible to the United Kingdom
- Brunei Darussalam
- Citizen of a British overseas territory who derives that citizenship through birth, descent, naturalization or registration in one of the British overseas territories of:
- British Virgin Islands
- Cayman Islands
- Falkland Islands
- Pitcairn Island
- Saint Helena
- Turks and Caicos Islands
- Czech Republic
- Federal Republic of Germany
- Republic of Korea
- New Zealand
- Papua New Guinea
- San Marino
- Solomon Islands
- United States permanent residents
Individuals who require an eTA (documents)
Foreign nationals who hold any of the following documents require an eTA:
- A passport or travel document issued by the Holy See
- A national Israeli passport
- A passport issued by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China
- A passport issued by the United Kingdom to a British National (Overseas), as a person born, naturalized or registered in Hong Kong
- A passport issued by the United Kingdom to a British Subject which contains the observation that the holder has the right of abode in the United Kingdom
- An ordinary passport issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Taiwan that includes the personal identification number of the individual
Who does not need an eTA?
Subsections 7.1(2) and 7.1(3) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations describe the individuals that are exempt from the eTA requirement. These individuals include:
- Individuals who hold a valid Canadian temporary resident visa or temporary resident permit
- Her Majesty in Right of Canada and any member of the (British) Royal Family
- Nationals of the United States
- Foreign nationals who hold a passport that contains a diplomatic acceptance, a consular acceptance or an official acceptance issued by the Chief of Protocol for the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade on behalf of the Government of Canada and are a properly accredited diplomats, consular officers, representatives or officials of a country other than Canada, of the United Nations or any of its agencies, or of any international organization of which Canada is a member
- Foreign nationals seeking to enter and remain in Canada solely:
- As a member of a means of transportation that may be used for transportation by air or to become a member of such a crew; or
- To transit through Canada after working, or to work, as a member of a means of transportation that may be used for transportation by air, if they possess a ticket for departure from Canada within 24 hours after their arrival in Canada
- Citizens of France who are residents of St. Pierre and Miquelon who seek to enter Canada directly from St. Pierre and Miquelon
- Foreign nationals seeking to enter and remain in Canada solely to transit through Canada as a passenger on a flight stopping in Canada for the sole purpose of refuelling and:
- They are in possession of documents required in order to enter the United States and their flight is bound for that country, or
- They were lawfully admitted to the United States and their flight originated in that country
- Foreign nationals seeking to enter and remain in Canada solely to transit through Canada as a passenger on a flight that, owing to an emergency or other unforeseen circumstances, makes an unscheduled stop in Canada
- Foreign nationals seeking to enter and remain in Canada solely to transit through Canada as a passenger on a flight if the foreign national:
- is transported by a commercial transporter and there is a memorandum of understanding referred to in subsection 190(4) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations in effect between the Minister and the commercial transporter concerning the transit of passengers through Canada without a Canadian visa,
- holds a passport or travel document that was issued by the country of which the foreign national is a citizen or national and that country is listed in the memorandum of understanding, and
- is in possession of any visa required to enter the country of destination
- Foreign nationals seeking to enter and remain in Canada solely to carry out official duties as a member of the armed forces of a country that is a designated state for the purposes of the Visiting Forces Act, unless they have been designated under that Act as a civilian component of those armed forces
- Foreign nationals seeking to enter and remain in Canada solely to re-enter Canada following a visit solely to the United States or St. Pierre and Miquelon, if they
- held a study permit or a work permit that was issued before they left Canada on such a visit or were authorized to enter and remain in Canada as a temporary resident, and
- return to Canada by the end of the period initially authorized for their stay or any extension to it
- Foreign nationals seeking to enter and remain in Canada solely to conduct inspections of the flight operation procedures or cabin safety of a commercial air carrier operating international flights, if they are a civil aviation inspector of a national aeronautical authority and possess valid documentation to that effect
- Foreign nationals seeking to enter and remain in Canada solely to participate as an accredited representative or as an adviser to an aviation accident or incident investigation conducted under the Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation and Safety Board Act, if they possess valid documentation to that effect
How do clients apply for an eTA?
Applicants can access the eTA application form in two ways:
- Applicants who don’t know or are not aware if/that they need an eTA will begin the application process at the starting point of the Come to Canada wizard.
- Applicants who know they need an eTA can access the eTA application form at www.Canada.ca/eTA.
If the applicant is eTA‑exempt, or is otherwise not eligible to apply for an eTA, they will be notified and directed to the program(s) for which they are eligible.
Applicants will need to provide the following information on their application form:
- Passport details
- Personal details
- Occupation and previous travel
- Responses to background questions (to assess for health, criminality and immigration-related concerns)
- Contact information
There is also a free-text field at the end of the application form which asks the applicant: Please briefly indicate if there are additional details pertinent to your application. This allows the applicant to express an urgent need to travel to Canada.
Note that there are no documents required with an eTA application. Any additional documents that are required must be manually requested from the client.
Once the applicant has successfully submitted their application, they will receive an automated email confirming receipt of the application by IRCC. This email will contain the application number (from GCMS), as well as a link to allow the applicant to check the status of their eTA application at any time.
For how long is an eTA valid?
Section 12.05 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations indicates that an eTA is valid for five years or until the applicant’s passport expires, whichever occurs sooner.
Section 12.06 of the Regulations indicates that an eTA can be cancelled by a designated officer. Once cancelled, an eTA is no longer valid.
How does the eTA application process work?
eTA applications will be processed automatically in GCMS.
Identifying the applicant
Once the application is received in GCMS, the system will create a “prospective” application.
The system will then perform an identity search to determine if the applicant already exists in our databases, and will promote (i.e., associate) the application to an existing UCI (unique client identifier) where possible. Until promotion occurs, the application is prospective.
When required, manual promotion is conducted by the Operations Support Centre. Once promotion has occurred, the application will continue to move through the automated process.
If no adverse information is found on the applicant, GCMS will automatically notify the applicant by email that their eTA has been approved.
When eTA applications cannot be automatically approved, they are referred by the system for manual review in Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s Operations Support Centre (OSC). Officers in the Operations Support Centre can request additional documents from the client if required, and may also request a security screening by our security partners.
If documents are required from the client, the client will be directed to create a MyCIC account, to which they will link their eTA application. MyCIC offers a secure environment in which the client may communicate with IRCC and vice versa.
When a decision cannot be made in the OSC (e.g., due to delegated authorities, need for interview, etc.) the application will be referred to a visa office. Certain other circumstances will require assessment in an overseas mission, including applications that result in the need for a Permanent Resident Determination, a Temporary Resident Permit, etc.
Cases referred to mission will be processed in the same way that temporary resident visa applications are currently processed in that the officer may request an interview with the client if required.
If you are an officer and require guidance on manually assessing an eTA application, you can refer to the processing instructions.
Applicants whose eTA is refused will be notified by email of the reasons for the decision.
How will the eTA requirement be enforced?
eTA will be enforced using CBSA’s Interactive Advance Passenger Information (IAPI) system.
Unlike a temporary resident visa, no counterfoil will be provided to an applicant upon approval of an eTA. Therefore, there is no official physical proof of the presence or validity of an eTA. Air carriers will therefore use the CBSA’s IAPI system to confirm that an IRCC authorization to travel (visa or eTA) is linked to the traveller’s passport.
IAPI is an enhancement to the CBSA’s API/PNR program. It automates a previously manual process and requires air carriers to submit traveller API earlier (at check-in instead of takeoff). Air carriers will conduct their usual check-in procedures, which will now initiate an automated query in IAPI using the traveller’s passport number and country of issuance. Before a boarding pass can be printed, IAPI must provide an “ok to board” message to the air carrier.
What are the key dates for implementation of the eTA program?
The online application form will be available as of August 1, 2015, and eTA will become a mandatory requirement on March 15, 2016.
It should be noted that from March 15, 2016, until fall 2016, travellers who do not have an eTA can board their flight, as long as they have appropriate travel documents, such as a valid passport. During this period, border services officers can let travellers arriving without an eTA into the country, as long as they are not otherwise inadmissible. Find answers to questions about the leniency period.
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