It has become possible for a while now to visit Canada without needing to apply for a visa. Through a simple online procedure an ETA, or Electronic Travel Authorisation, enables you to take a holiday in Canada or a business trip with a minimum of fuss. But how long is an ETA valid for and how long can you stay in the country?
What is the length of visits covered by an ETA visa?
Let us first look at the length of your visit to Canada. The ETA visa waiver programme was implemented with certain visitors in mind and enables a simplified administrative procedure but is only applicable for short visits as well as transits.
In fact, if you wish to visit Canada or undertake a business trip there using the ETA programme then your visit to Canada should not exceed 90 days. If your planned visit is for longer than this then you will be obliged to complete an application for a traditional visa. To do so you should visit the Canadian Embassy or consulate in your own country.
You should therefore confirm that your visit to Canada does not exceed three months in length before completing your ETA application online.
How long is an Canadian ETA visa valid for?
One of the great advantages of an ETA travel authorisation application for visiting Canada is that it is not only for a single use, it can be fact be used for numerous visits. Once the application form has been submitted and approved by the Canadian authorities then your ETA will be valid for a period of five years following its date of approval.
This means that you can therefore complete further visits to Canada during this validity period without the need to repeat the application procedure of your initial ETA. Of course, the reasons for your visit should be the same and your personal information as indicated on your application should remain the same.
In the case whereby some of your personal information has changed and you wish to use your ETA again for a transit or stopover in Canada, or your passport number has changed, you will need to update the information on your visa. To do so you will be required to complete the application process again.
What happens when this period expires?
Once the five year validity period of your ETA visa has expired then you can no longer use your original authorisation reference number to prepare for your next visit to Canada. You will need to complete an entirely new travel authorisation application from the beginning by again completing the application form online.
You will also need to pay the full transfer and processing costs of your application again.
We therefore highly recommend that you benefit fully from the five year validity period to explore Canada and enjoy its many attractions.
How to know if your ETA is still valid?
If you have already visited Canada and remember completing an ETA application at that time then maybe you are able to use the same ETA travel authorisation for your next visit. However, sometimes it can be difficult to remember the exact issue date of a document and therefore you may not know if your travel authorisation is still valid. What can you do in this position to verify the validity period and expiry date of your ETA visa?
There are several ways to know if your ETA is still valid. The first is to consult its status online. To do so you will need to visit the Canadian Government website ensuring you have certain information to hand such as your ETA reference number if you have it, your email address or passport number which should of course be the same as that initially stated on your application form. In this way you will be able to access your file and learn if your ETA is still valid.
If you did not note your reference number or cannot remember the information you gave on your application which allows you to access your authorisation online, there is another way to know if your ETA is still valid. For example you can complete a search in your email inbox to find the confirmation email that was originally sent to you or check on your passport when your initial visit to Canada occurred. In this way you can simply work out the five year validity period from one of these dates to ensure your ETA is still within its validity period.
Are there any further administrative procedures to be taken when using a valid ETA?
If your ETA visa is still within its validity period and you wish to visit Canada again then you have no further administrative procedures to take. This electronic ETA visa is systematically verified when you present your passport to the airport authorities at your departure and on your arrival by the border control officials.
However, before your departure and to be sure that your travel plans can continue unimpeded, it is important to verify that all the information on your ETA visa is still correct. If you have changed your passport, your name, or even your address or if one of the answers you initially gave to a question on the form has changed then your ETA may be refused and you will not be able to travel to Canada.
It is unfortunately impossible to modify this important information to reuse your ETA during its valid period and the only thing you can do is simply to complete the application process again. To do so proceed as you did with your initial application by completing the online form. You will of course need to pay the same transfer and processing fees and upon doing so and after submission and approval your new ETA will again be valid for a period of five years.
When is it necessary to renew an ETA visa before its expiry date?
Although the validity period of an ETA, as we examined earlier, is for five years from its date of approval, this does not mean that you can systematically use it for all visits undertaken during this period. There are in fact certain particular cases whereby an ETA visa is not applicable even if it is still within its period of validity. Here we will explain the different precise situations whereby your valid ETA cannot be used and the procedures that need to be taken in such cases to ensure that you can prepare for your visit to Canada with all necessary and legal authorisations.
Firstly, and before you reuse an ETA visa obtained for a previous visit, you should ensure that the passport you currently hold is the same as that you used for your previous visit and the same number you stated when you originally applied for an ETA. As an ETA travel authorisation is an electronic and therefore paper free document it is actually linked electronically or digitally to your passport. Therefore, if you have changed your passport and your passport number is different to that noted on the ETA then the ETA will no longer be linked to it. Subsequently, if you change your passport following its expiry, loss or theft, you will need to complete the entire ETA authorisation application procedure again stating the new passport number. Unfortunately the passport number is one of the elements that cannot simply be changed on a current ETA so it is necessary to complete a new ETA application form.
In the same way, any change relative to your identity can render your ETA visa null and void. For example, if you are married or divorced and you have changed your last name, or have proceeded with a change in your personal information such as your status or first or last name, then you can no longer use your ETA even if it is still within the validity period. However, if the name stated on your passport is the same you indicated on your initial application, in other words if the modifications were not effected on your passport, then you can still use your ETA visa.
The same is also true for any other change concerning your personal information such as a change of address, even if this does not affect your country of residence and therefore your right of access to the visa waiver programme implemented by the Canadian authorities. If you have moved since your previous travel authorisation application then you will also need to complete a new ETA application stating your new address.
To conclude it is clear that if you now need to provide a different answer to one of the questions on the ETA application form you initially completed then you should inform the responsible authorities of this change by completing the entire application procedure again. This is why we recommend you keep a note of the information regarding your initial authorisation application including the answers given; in this manner you can ensure that all the information is correct to establish whether or not you need to renew your valid ETA before a future visit.
It should be noted here that when you renew your ETA during its period of validity, due to an important change such as those previously stated, the new ETA will again be valid for a five year period beginning on its date of approval and not that of the previous authorisation. Also remember that even in the case of a new ETA application, with a previous ETA that is still valid, it is not guaranteed that the Canadian authorities will approve this new travel authorisation application as they will again carefully study your application before responding definitively. Therefore, if one of the changes is incompatible with the Canadian laws and regulations in force at that time then your new application may simply be refused.
Is it necessary for an ETA visa to cover the entire length of a visit to Canada?
Let us now respond to another question that is often asked by people who wish to travel to Canada and whose ETA visa is approaching the end of its validity period. Is it actually necessary to renew an ETA if its validity does not cover the entirety of a visit?
It is only obligatory that your ETA visa is valid on the date of your arrival in Canada. It is not necessary that it is valid for the entirety of your visit. However the rules concerning the length of your visit with an ETA visa remain the same, your visit cannot be for longer than 90 days or three months. It should also be noted that this non-requirement for your ETA at the time of your return from Canada only concerns this document and does not relate to your passport. In fact, and in accordance with Canadian law, you need to hold a valid passport for the entirety of your visit to Canada mainly as a proof of identity. You should therefore verify that your passport is valid for the entirety of your stay and, in the case to the contrary, renew it before your departure date, also remembering to renew your ETA which is electronically linked to it.
Let us now look at another particular case, that of transits or stopovers in Canada. In fact, if you plan to travel to another destination but are required to transit or complete a stopover in a Canadian airport then your ETA visa should be valid for both the outgoing and return flights. These two stops in Canada are each considered as a visit in itself. It is therefore important to check the validity period of your ETA before your departure.
To learn more about the validity period of an ETA visa and use it for future visits to Canada then you will find all the information you require in other dedicated and detailed articles.