What is Canada’s electronic Travel Authorization (eTA)?

It’s official now….

Canada Requires Authorization to Visit

It used to be, to visit Canada, you just “fly in and visit.” Not any more. Authorization is needed from everyone.

Either you need a visa (old news for about 150 countries) or you need to file an electronic Travel Authorization or “eTA” (this is new for the last 50 countries). Whether a visa or eTA, it must be done before you fly to Canada.

Those Needing a Visa

For citizens of the majority of countries, Canada requires a visa. And that’s still the case for them. If you needed a visa before, you still need a visa now.

But for about 25% of the world’s countries, citizens used to fly in, visit and fly out, -no paperwork or permission needed.

Those NOT Needing a Visa

For citizens from visa-free countries, Ha! You think you can drop in unannounced like some uninvited mother-in-law? No “popping in” to Canada for you, not any more.

In order to fly in, you first need to fill in a tiny bit of online paperwork. And pay $7 (cheap, but a tiny bit annoying).

Enter the electronic Travel Authorization or “eTA” – your visa-free authorization to see Canada.

Welcoming Mexico More

One notable change starting December 1st, 2016, Mexicans wishing to visit Canada will no longer need to apply for a visa, just the eTA.

…on December 1st, Canada will treat both US and Mexico as equals in terms of visitor rights.

That’s interesting, considering Mexicans most definitely need a visa to visit the United States. (Ironic, as a surge of US citizens look to move to Canada, given the recent presidential election.)

Expat Yourself election surge
Expat Yourself visitor surge post election

Soak this up: even as US president-elect Trump promises to build a wall stopping Mexicans from seeking a better life to the north, there was a surge of Americans also seeking a better life to the north. Meanwhile, on December 1st, Canada will treat both US and Mexico as equals in terms of visitor rights. Huh…

How to File an eTA?

You fill in this online form, thanks to Canadian Immigration. Have your passport and credit card ready!


Any Exceptions?

Yes, 3 big exceptions. These people do not need to file an eTA:

  1. If you hold dual-citizenship: Canadian + 1. (BTW, travel with Canadian passport)
  2. If you are already a permanent resident of Canada.
  3. If you’re American.

And a few other exclusive exceptions, according to Canada Immigration:

  1. Her Majesty the Queen
  2. Diplomats
  3. People who flew in just to maintain the aircraft they flew in on

How Many Affected?

About 50 countries are affected. That’s only a quarter (~25%) of the world’s countries. As for how many people…glancing at the list (including China, India, Indonesia, etc.), about 85% of the population.

Oh well, enough said about this topic. Best to you all.

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An American who likes to move around. I now live on the eastern Canadian seaboard. My job? A stay-at-home dad for two cute but demanding bosses. My wife? Also cute; not so demanding. My wife and I both love travel. We met in South Korea, travelled across Australia, India, Europe and beyond. We lived in Czech Republic for four years. Many stories to tell and experience to share. If you let me, I will help you travel as we do. Enjoy.