The processing time to obtain a Canadian ETA visa

You can obtain an ETA travel authorisation extremely rapidly but here we will explain why you should apply well in advance to ensure your travel plans to Canada continue unimpeded.

Apply for an ETA Canada

If you are planning a visit to Canada shortly then it is essential that you have enough time available to complete the application procedure to obtain the necessary travel documents and authorisations to be able to enter Canadian territory. Among these procedures the ETA application is particularly fast but, as we will explain here, it is still preferable that you apply plenty of time in advance of your departure date to avoid any problems or delays. Here we will examine how much time it takes to obtain an ETA visa and all the details you should take into account.


A very short processing time for your eTA visa application:

As you will certainly learn, it doesn’t take long to complete your ETA application online, only a few minutes in fact. You will simply need to answer some simple questions relating to your identity including some personal information such as your passport number and then complete payment using a debit or credit card of the fees for the transfer and processing of your application by the Canadian authorities.

Once you have submitted your application you will receive a response by email also within a short period of time, anything from a few minutes to a few days maximum. In the majority of cases a response is sent within only a few hours.

 In all cases it is necessary to plan in advance if your passport is no longer valid. A passport application can actually take a while to be processed and you will need the passport number which is valid for your Canadian visit to apply for your ETA visa. It is also important to remember that if your ETA application is refused then you may need to apply for a visa which takes far longer.

Apply for an ETA Canada

If you haven’t received your ETA authorisation notification within a few days after submission:

In this case this probably results from a problem linked to your online application. The first thing to do is to confirm that the transfer and processing fee payment has been completed through your bank account. If this payment is not completed then your ETA application will not be transferred to the Canadian authorities. In the case whereby payment has not been made we recommend you repeat your ETA application procedure by completing the form online.

It could also be that you forgot to submit your application. In this case you will also need to complete a new application online.

A last possible explanation as to why you haven’t received an email response after a few days concerns your email address. When you complete your application form you need to give a valid email address. It is to this address that the Canadian authorities will send their response. Therefore if you made a mistake when stating your email address it is possible that you cannot access this information. You should therefore confirm that you gave the correct address. If it is correct then check your spam or junk email folder.


When is the best time to apply for an ETA visa?

If you plan to visit Canada shortly then you will of course need an ETA travel authorisation to be able to travel to and enter the country. You are undoubtedly wondering how long you should apply for your ETA visa before your departure date. As you already know from the information given earlier, the waiting time to obtain a response regarding your ETA application is a maximum of 72 hours, or 3 days.  It can therefore be tempting to count on this fast turnover time to leave applying for an ETA until the last few days. However, as we will now explain in more detail, it is best to play safe and apply well in advance if you wish to ensure that your travel plans can continue unimpeded despite any unforeseen circumstances that may occur.

In fact, even if the response to your ETA application is received promptly within the 72 hours it is still possible that the response will be negative and your ETA application is refused for one reason or another. You will then have the choice of two possible solutions.

The first consists of reapplying for an ETA visa online. This is of course possible if your refusal is due to an error made when completing the online application form. In this case you will have to wait for at least ten days following the receipt of your refusal notification email before completing and submitting the new one.

In the case whereby your ETA application was refused due to you or your visit not complying with the admission criteria of this electronic travel authorisation system (for example a visit of longer than 90 days, a type of passport that is not eligible, or an ineligible nationality), then you have the possibility of applying for a traditional visa. Although a classic type visa can also be applied for online the information and documents requested make this a more complex procedure than that of an ETA with a longer waiting time too for the response.

 It is therefore highly recommended that you take this possibility of a refusal of your ETA application into account and apply several weeks in advance of your departure date for Canada to ensure you can continue unimpeded with your travel plans.

Apply for an ETA Canada

Is it possible to receive an ETA visa through the post and if so how long does it take?

As we have just explained, it is entirely possible that you receive your ETA travel authorisation approval in just a few hours due to the electronic or digital system that guarantees you will receive an email response within a maximum of 72 hours.

However, certain people still wish to obtain a paper copy of their ETA approval by post, sometimes because they are not comfortable with electronic communications or because they would like a physical copy of the document without the bother of having to print the confirmation email. Luckily for such people certain online service providers offer the ETA application form service with an option to receive a paper copy of your ETA visa document by post at your home address, in return for a low supplementary postage fee of course.

So how long does it take to obtain this type of ETA in the form of a paper document? This question may seem important as it is clear that apart from the 72 hours maximum processing time it will also take time for postal delivery. Although this supplementary time generally does not take more than a few days depending on exactly where you live you should still take it into account as you cannot know the status of your application before it is delivered unless you regularly check your email inbox. This is because even if you requested a copy to be sent by post you will still receive a confirmation email at the email address stated on your application. You will therefore still be able to learn your status in this way.

However the actual date you receive your ETA copy by mail does not really count for much as it is the date you receive the email confirmation of your ETA approval that truly counts. In fact, your application will actually be processed in the same way and with the same time delay whichever delivery option you choose. Therefore, if your ETA application is approved it will be digitally or electronically linked to your passport number even before you receive a copy by mail.

If you have applied for a paper copy of your ETA by mail and you haven’t received this document before your departure then we recommend you verify the status of your application directly online or in your email inbox. If your application has been approved then you do not actually need the paper document for your visit, simply present your valid passport as required upon boarding and on your arrival in Canada.

It is also important to know that your reference number enables you to access the status of your application therefore you can verify this information online before your departure if you need to confirm that you have the right to enter Canada.


What to do if you do not obtain an ETA visa?

As you undoubtedly already know, an online ETA application does not guarantee automatic approval of your travel authorisation application and it therefore remains possible that you will actually receive a refusal notification. 

This refusal of an ETA application can be justified by several reasons. Firstly, it is possible that you do not fulfil the conditions required to benefit from the Visa Waiver programme for Canada. It is also possible that one or more of the answers given on your application form online do not correspond to the laws and regulations imposed by the Canadian authorities responsible for immigration.  Finally, if you have already received a refusal to a previous ETA application due to a major reason then the Canadian authorities have the right to again deny you permission to enter Canadian territory.

However in the case of such a refusal what solutions are available to you to be able to continue with your plans for visiting this country?

In reality, everything depends on the reason for your refusal. Unfortunately this reason is not given in the email response to your application and you will have to identify the reason yourself. If you think it is due to a simple mistake made when completing the application form online then it may be possible to simply complete a new application ensuring that this time you make no mistakes and answer all the questions correctly and truthfully. However, you will need to wait for ten days following your refusal notification before submitting a new application.

If the refusal is due to a problem related to nationality, the length of visit, or the reason for your visit then you have the possibility, if you so wish, of applying for a classic visa. This application can also be completed online but may also require a physical visit to Canadian authorities thereby requiring more time that should be taken into consideration.

In both these cases your visit to Canada should be able to be completed unimpeded. However if the reason for your ETA refusal is due to another major reason such as  a criminal record against the Canadian laws and regulations then it is fairly certain that your new ETA application or visa application will also be refused.

This is why we recommend that you apply for your ETA visa well in advance to ensure you have the time to complete another administrative procedure if you receive an initial refusal. It would be a shame if you could not complete your visit due to a simple lack of time to complete a new ETA application or a visa application to obtain the necessary legal travel authorisation.  You can apply for an ETA travel authorisation immediately online to ensure you have the best possible chances of preparing for your visit, simply complete the online application in your language and you will receive a response within a maximum of 72 hours.

Obtaining an ETA travel authorisation is an extremely fast procedure but here we will explain why it is still important to prepare well in advance in order not to imperil your next visit to Canada.

Apply for an ETA Canada

Frequently asked questions

When should I apply for an eTA and what is the processing time?

As mentioned in this article, the procedure for applying for an eTA is quite quick and will only take a few minutes. You will receive a response to your application within a maximum of 72 hours. However, it may happen that your file requires additional checks, which will extend this time. It is therefore advisable to plan ahead one to several weeks in order to be prepared for all eventualities.

How do I know what stage my eTA application is at?

If you have applied for an eTA online and would like to know the status of your application, there is of course a way to find out. First of all, it is normal for your application to take up to 72 hours to process. You can of course check the status of your eTA application online by visiting the official Canadian government website. However, you will be asked for your passport number and file number.

What if I have not received my eTA after 72 hours?

Sometimes it takes longer than the advertised 72 hours to process an eTA application. However, if you still have not received your eTA after this time, first check the spam folder in your email inbox to ensure that you have not received a reply. If not, also check that your payment has been debited from your account. Finally, do not hesitate to check the status of your eTA online.