Are you planning to travel to Canada as a tourist? In this case, you will have to obtain a tourist visa or simply an eTA which is a system that simplifies the old traditional visa application procedures. On this page, you will find out how to apply for an eTA and what conditions you need to fulfil if you want to benefit from it.
In which cases can I apply for an eTA tourist visa for Canada?
If you intend to travel to Canada by air, whether for a holiday, to visit friends or on business, or if your trip includes a transit or stopover in this country, you must apply for an eTA in order to be allowed to travel there. This also applies to minor children.
Of course, Canadian and US nationals as well as those with a valid regular visa are exempt from this process. Note here that the eTA is not required if you arrive by train, car, bus or cruise ship.
It should also be noted that if you plan to stay in Canada for more than 6 months or if you do not meet one or more of the conditions necessary for the granting of the eTA for Canada, you will then be obliged to apply for a traditional visa which will of course be both longer and more expensive than the eTA procedure. The application fee for the eTA is lower than for the traditional visa and authorisation is generally granted within three days on average and sometimes even within minutes for emergency applications.
What is the eTA Canada visa?
The eTA visa stands for Electronic Travel Authorization. It is therefore a legal authorization to stay in Canada that is presented in digital form and not in physical form like traditional visas. It is also a visa exemption procedure for this destination.
Applications for an eTA can be made online under certain conditions, which we will detail below, and are then examined by Immigration and Refugee Canada or IRCC. If you meet the prerequisites and are not considered a threat to the security of the country, there is every chance that you will be granted this valuable document.
As the eTA is an electronic document, it is digitally linked to your passport. When you board the plane, the airline staff will simply check that this authorisation is linked to your passport. This check before boarding the plane makes it possible to filter beforehand the travellers authorised to go to Canada from those who are not, but also to guarantee security on board the aircraft.
What are the requirements for applying for an eTA tourist visa for Canada?
As we quickly mentioned above, the eTA is a simplified online procedure for obtaining permission to stay in Canada without applying for a visa. However, this procedure is only available to travellers under certain conditions, as detailed below:
- The traveller must be a national of a European country that is a member of the eTA system, which of course includes United Kingdom.
- Your trip to Canada must be for holiday, study, business or a stopover or transit.
- You do not have to go to Canada to work for a local company.
- You must not pose a risk or threat to public safety or health in Canada.
- You must follow the rules related to the prevention of the Coronavirus pandemic in Canada.
- You must not have been convicted of a crime or violated any immigration or visa law.
How long is the eTA valid and how long can it stay?
Once your eTA has been accepted, it will be sent to you by email and will be automatically attached to your passport. It will then be valid for a total of 5 years. This period of validity begins on the day your application is approved. However, the validity of your eTA may be shortened if your passport expires before these 5 years. This is because the eTA is electronically linked to the passport whose number you entered when you applied, so a change to that document will cancel this link. You will then have to apply for a new eTA.
It should also be noted that your eTA must only be valid at the time of your registration and at the time of your arrival in Canada. As for the passport, it must be valid for the entire duration of your stay.
There is also a rule regarding the duration of your stay in Canada. This must not exceed 6 consecutive months. Apart from this constraint, you may make as many trips to Canada as you wish during this five-year period.
What is the procedure for obtaining an eTA for Canada?
The application for an eTA for Canada should be made before you book your trip and even if you do not yet know your arrival date. The procedure is done entirely online, from a computer, tablet or smartphone. Here are the steps to follow:
- Go to the official website or a website offering this service like the one we recommend on this page.
- Fill in the online application form for the eTA for yourself and possibly for another traveller accompanying you. Here you will need to have your valid passport with you, the validity of which will cover your entire trip.
- You will then be asked to pay the processing fee for your application. This payment can be made by various secure means such as credit card or an online payment solution such as PayPal.
- You will then receive a response to your application within an average of 3 days. Sometimes applications may take longer to process, especially if additional checks are required.
- You will receive a reply to your application by email and SMS. There is no need to print out anything as your authorisation will be electronically attached to your passport.
How to choose between a visa application and an eTA application?
The choice between a regular visa or an eTA to travel to Canada is important because making the wrong choice could jeopardise your stay. While the eTA application has its advantages in terms of cost and budget and is legally identical to the classic visa, it is essential to meet the conditions explained here beforehand in order to benefit from it. If you meet all of these conditions, the eTA is of course the wisest choice. You can then apply for an eTA online and obtain this authorisation as soon as possible.
However, in some cases, this eTA application will not be possible and you will have to apply for a regular visa. This concerns in particular the following elements
- You plan to stay in Canada for more than 6 months
- You are considering working in Canada and for a Canadian company
- You will not meet the legal or regulatory requirements for eTA
If you fall into one of these situations, then you will not be able to take advantage of the eTA to travel to Canada and will need to apply for a visa in order to enter the country.
What are the standard visas you can apply for in Canada?
Choosing the right visa is also important if you cannot go through the eTA procedure. Remember that a visa will be defined by the purpose of your trip. In total, Canada offers more than ten different visas and it can be complicated to make the right choice. Indeed, each type of visa has specific conditions and requirements.
We will not go into detail about the different visas as there are so many and as this is not the purpose of this page. However, you can remember that visas for Canada can be divided into two categories with :
- Temporary Resident Visas: These visas can be used for holidays, studies or professional activities.
- Permanent resident visas: These visas may be suitable for people who wish to settle in Canada for a longer period of time, for example to emigrate.
Note that visa applications require the completion of an official application form and the submission of supporting documents. Depending on the case, you may be offered an appointment at the Canadian embassy or consulate in your country of residence.