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Probably the most tedious part of travel is often related to the bureaucratic paperwork and customs formalities involved in crossing borders or entering a country when you first land. However, it is a necessary step in many destinations. I’m sure you’ve had to apply for a visa more than once, but there are countries where other (in theory simpler) formalities are required. This is the case in Canada and the so-called eTA (electronic travel authorization) that we had to fill out before our trip to the East Coast of Canada in order to enter the country.
It’s a bit tedious to fill in, but it’s actually a fairly simple process and one that Spanish citizens (among many other nationalities) can benefit from. Nevertheless, we will try to solve the main doubts about this bureaucratic requirement and we will also explain you the differences between the eTA and the visa to travel to Canada.
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What is the Canada eTA?
The eTA is a mandatory entry requirement for foreign citizens of certain countries, such as Spain, who enter Canadian territory by air and are exempt from visa requirements to Canada. This bureaucratic process has been in place since March 2016 and involves obtaining an authorization that is electronically linked to your passport.
Canada’s Electronic Travel Authorization can be used to transit and cross the entire Canadian territory, also for tourism or business trips with a maximum period of up to six months.
Citizens of countries that are exempt from visa requirements (and therefore must apply for the eTA to travel to Canada) are as follows: Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Brunei, Chile, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Korea, USA, Holy See, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Poland, Portugal, Samoa, San Marino, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan and United Kingdom. All other countries must begin the process of obtaining the various Canadian visas.
Best of all, the Canadian eTA is applied for online and is fast and much easier to obtain than a visa, as eTA applicants usually receive a response to their application within minutes.
Please note that without the completion of the eTA authorization form you will not be able to enter Canada. In fact, you are usually asked to do so before checking in or boarding the plane from which you are arriving. You can print it out if you want, but we simply show the email on the mobile phone that we have been approved.
How and where to apply for the Canada eTA?
Applying for electronic travel authorization is a very simple online process that will take only a few minutes to complete. You can apply for the visa or eTA Canada here.
Before you begin the process you will need to have a valid passport on hand, as your passport will be electronically associated with your eTA. This means that when your passport is not valid, your electronic travel authorization to enter Canada will also expire. This is a truism but when you enter Canada, you will need to carry the same passport that you used to apply for the eTA. Of course, check that your passport is valid for the duration of your trip to Canada before you apply. Otherwise, apply for a new passport before you start the application process for the Canada eTA.
In addition to a valid passport, you will need an email address and you can fill in all the details in the application form. You will be asked for a number of personal details for each traveller and will have to answer questions, some relating to health and safety issues and even travel history. It is interesting to have the passport at hand for all travellers because many of the questions are related to this document.
The last step is to pay the eTA application, the cost is 19.95 euros per person so have your Visa, Mastercard, American Express or PayPal credit card at hand and within 72 hours you will have the answer in your email.
How long is Canada’s eTA authorization valid?
Once you have been approved for the Canada eTA authorization, it will be valid for five years from the date of issue. However, if your passport expires or changes during that period and you need to travel to Canada again, you will need to apply for a new authorization with the information corresponding to the passport you have renewed or changed.
Bureaucratic procedures are boring but necessary. So if you are planning a trip to Canada don’t forget to fill out the electronic travel authorization form, it is a necessary requirement to enter the country.