Electronic travel authorization

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 (IRPA) requires all visa-exempt foreign nationals (except U.S. citizens and certain other small groups) travelling to or transiting through Canada by air 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 (IRPR) requires these foreign nationals to obtain an eTA before entering Canada, unless they are otherwise exempted.

The eTA became a mandatory entry requirement for these air travellers on March 15, 2016. To help reduce travel disruptions, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) established a leniency period from March 15, 2016 to November 9, 2016. As of November 10, 2016, the eTA requirement is enforced at check-in for flights to or through Canada via the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) Interactive Advance Passenger Information (IAPI) system.

This requirement does not apply to these foreign nationals travelling to or transiting through Canada by land, sea, or rail modes.

Electronic travel authorization expansion

As of May 1, 2017, updates to subsections R7.01(1) and (2) will expand the eligibility criteria of the eTA requirement to allow foreign nationals from Brazil, Bulgaria, and Romania who meet specific conditions, to apply for an eTA.

Foreign nationals from these three countries may apply for an eTA only if they are travelling to Canada by air and:

  • have held a temporary resident visa at any time during the 10 year period immediately preceding the day on which they make their application; or
  • hold a valid United States nonimmigrant visa (U.S. NIV) on the day on which they make their application.

If foreign nationals from Brazil, Bulgaria, and Romania do not meet the eligibility requirements listed above, and are not a U.S. lawful permanent resident (i.e. green card holder) then they are not eligible to apply for an eTA; they must then be in possession of a valid temporary resident visa (TRV) to travel to or transit through Canada. Note that if a Brazilian, Bulgarian, and Romanian national is traveling to Canada through means other than air, they must have a valid TRV.

Learn more about eTA

Who needs an eTA?

An eTA is required for all visa-exempt foreign nationals, except United States citizens and certain other small exempt groups.

Section R190 describes individuals who are exempt from the requirement to obtain a temporary resident visa. These individuals therefore require an eTA.

Individuals who require an eTA (nationality)

  • Andorra
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belgium
  • British citizens
  • British overseas citizens who are re-admissible to the United Kingdom
  • Brunei Darussalam
  • Chile
  • Citizens of a British overseas territory who derives that citizenship through birth, descent, naturalization or registration in one of the British overseas territories of
    • Anguilla
    • Bermuda
    • British Virgin Islands
    • Cayman Islands
    • Falkland Islands
    • Gibraltar
    • Montserrat
    • Pitcairn Island
    • Saint Helena
    • Turks and Caicos Islands
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Federal Republic of Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Republic of Korea
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Mexico
  • Monaco
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Samoa
  • San Marino
  • Singapore
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Solomon Islands
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • United States permanent residents

Individuals who require an eTA (documents)

Foreign nationals who hold any of the following documents also 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 is eligible for an eTA through eTA expansion?

Beginning May 1, 2017, Brazilian, Bulgarian and Romanian citizens are eligible to apply for an eTA if they are traveling to Canada by air and:

  • Have held a Canadian visa in the past 10 years, or
  • hold a valid United States (U.S.) nonimmigrant visa (NIV)

If foreign nationals from these three countries do not meet the eligibility requirements listed above, they must then be in possession of a valid temporary resident visa (TRV) to travel to or transit through Canada. While nationals of Brazil, Bulgaria and Romania who meet the eligibility requirements of eTA expansion can apply for an eTA, they may still apply for, obtain, and travel with a temporary resident visa (TRV). As eTAs are only valid for air travel to or transit through Canada, all Brazilian, Bulgarian, and Romanian nationals travelling by land, sea, and rail must be in possession of a valid TRV.

Who does not need an eTA?

Subsections R7.1(2) and (3) describe individuals who are exempt from the eTA requirement. They 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 R190(4) 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 you apply for an eTA?

Applicants can access the eTA application form online in two ways:

  • If someone doesn’t know or is not aware if/that they need an eTA, they should consult the Come to Canada wizard first. If it is completed properly, it will direct the applicant to apply for an eTA.
  • If someone knows that they need an eTA, they can access the application form directly 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 in their application:

  • Passport details
  • Personal details
  • Occupation
  • Responses to background questions (to assess for health, criminality and immigration-related concerns)
  • Contact information

Applicants from Brazil, Bulgaria, and Romania will also have to specify under which condition they meet the eTA expansion eligibility criteria in order to submit their application.

There is also a free-text field at the end of the application form which asks the applicant to indicate if there are additional details pertinent to their application. This allows the applicant to advise of an urgent need to travel to Canada.

Please note that documents do not need to be submitted with an eTA application. Any additional documentation required to manually process the application must be requested directly from the client.

Once an individual 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.

How long is an eTA valid?

Section R12.05 indicates that an eTA is valid for five years or until the applicant’s passport expires, whichever occurs sooner.

Section R12.06 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?

Most eTA applications are processed automatically in GCMS.

Identifying the applicant

Once the application is received in GCMS, the system creates a “prospective” application.

The system then performs an identity search to determine if the applicant already exists in our databases, and promotes (i.e. associates) the application to an existing unique client identifier (UCI) where possible. Until promotion occurs, the application is only prospective.

When required, manual promotion is conducted by the Operations Support Centre (OSC). Once promotion has occurred, the application continues to move through the automated process.

Automated approvals

If no adverse information is found on the applicant, GCMS automatically notifies the applicant by email that their eTA has been approved. For eTA expansion, the automated approval will occur after the eligibility check has been completed.

Manual intervention

When eTA applications cannot be automatically approved, they are referred by the system for manual review in the IRCC OSC. Officers in the OSC 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 secure IRCC account, to which they will link their eTA application. The account offers a secure environment in which the client can communicate with IRCC and vice versa.

Refusals

Applicants whose eTA is refused are notified by email of the reasons for the decision.

How is the eTA requirement enforced?

eTAs are enforced through the CBSA’s IAPI system.

Unlike a temporary resident visa, no counterfoil is 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 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 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 conduct their usual check-in procedures, which initiate an automated query in IAPI using the traveller’s passport number and country of issuance. Air carriers will check IAPI to obtain guidance, as it will provide a “board” or “no board” message.

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