Canadian eTA Vs. Canadian Visa

Updated on Jul 17, 2023 | Canada Visa Online

By: Canada eTA

Travelers must know that both a consulate visa and an electronic travel authorization for Canada allow them to enter and stay in the country. They both are travel permits provided by the Canadian authorities. Though both are travel authorizations, the Canadian eTA and the Canadian visa are not the same.

But applicants often have doubts about whether to apply for a visa or an eTA for Canada. The answer is that both documents are travel authorizations that allow you into the country.

Though both are travel authorizations, the Canadian eTA and the Canadian visa are not the same. These documents possess different criteria regarding the traveler’s reason and eligibility. Only certain nationalities can apply for an eTA, while others must obtain a traditional visa.

Another question that often arises in the mind of travelers is that if they already own a Canadian visa, do they have to apply for a Canadian eTA? In order to learn about these two types of documents and their differences, it is essential to understand the guidelines outlined below.

Visiting Canada is simpler than ever since Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has introduced the simplified and streamlined process of obtaining electronic travel authorisation or Online Canada Visa. Online Canada Visa is an travel permit or electronic travel authorization to enter and visit Canada for a period of less than 6 months for tourism or business. International tourists must have a Canada eTA to be able to enter Canada and explore this beautiful country. Foreign citizens can apply for an Online Canada Visa Application in a matter of minutes. Online Canada Visa Application process is automated, simple, and completely online.

What is a Canadian visa?

The Canadian visa is a travel authorization provided by the Canadian authorities, which is mandatory for the majority number of travelers to enter and access the country without any difficulties. 

There are many different types of Canadian visas available. For example – 

  • Visa for tourists
  • Visa for students
  • Visa for foreign nationals to work in Canada
  • Visa to become residents of Canada 

Travelers from certain countries need not obtain a visa, but they are obligated to produce an eTA.

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Online Canada Visa, or Canada eTA, is a mandatory travel documents for citizens of visa-exempt countries. If you are a citizen of a Canada eTA eligible country, or if you are a legal resident of the United States, you will need eTA Canada Visa for layover or transit, or for tourism and sightseeing, or for business purposes, or for medical treatment. Learn more at Online Canada Visa Application Process.

What is a Canadian eTA?

Citizens of certain nations are let off from Canada visa requirements. Travelers from these visa-exempt countries must produce a valid Canada eTA instead of a Canadian visa.

The Canadian Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) is a digital visa waiver that is electronically connected to the applicant’s passport.  This is meant for only those travelers who are from visa-exempt countries. 

The eTA consists of a simple and quick online registration procedure that greatly benefits the applicants. 

  • They do not have to visit the Canadian embassy or the consulate in person. They can easily avoid the long, complex process of applying for a visa which involves lengthy paperwork.
  • The eTA provides multiple visits to Canada.
  • The Canadian eTA is valid for a period of 5 years and grants the applicant authorization to access and stay in the country for 6 consecutive months or 180 days per visit.

Do I need both travel documents?

There is no need to produce both travel documents. Either a Canadian eTA or a visa will work to allow you into the country and travel.

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Canadian eTA Vs. Canadian Visa – Processing Time

The Canadian eTA is a simple online process that requires only a few minutes of your time. The eTA applications are usually processed and approved within 24 hours of applying. Only in rare cases it takes a while, and it may take 2-3 business days. 

In order to obtain the Canadian eTA, the applicants must possess the following – 

  • A valid and approved passport
  • An authorized credit or debit card
  • A working email address

The Canadian eTA also provides a special ‘express option’ which guarantees fast-track processing service where the application is processed and approved within an hour of application. This urgent Canada eTA is meant for people who wish to travel to Canada in less than 24 hours.

The Canadian visa is entirely different from the eTA process and is a much-complicated process. It can be applied either online or by completing a paper form. However, unlike the eTA, once the application form is successfully approved, the applicants are required to follow a particular process.

In order to obtain a Canadian visa, overseas travelers must – 

  • Provide additional documents to support their eligibility
  • Present biometric details
  • Attend an interview conducted at the Canadian embassy or the consulate 

In simple terms, applying for a visa is a complex and long process. Hence, make sure to plan well ahead in order to avoid any delays and troubles.

Applying for an eTA is a much simpler process considering the Canadian visa process.

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Before applying for the Canada Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) you must make sure to have a valid passport from a visa-exempt country, an email address that is valid and working and credit/debit card for online payment. Learn more at Canada Visa Eligibility and Requirements.

Canadian eTA Vs. Canadian Visa – Validity

The Canadian eTA is valid for a period of 5 years from the date of approval. As mentioned above, it is electronically attached to the applicant’s passport, as mentioned in the online eTA application. 

But the eTA becomes invalid if the associated passport expires first. If it happens, then the travelers must apply for a new eTA in order to access Canada.

The Canadian eTA is valid and can be used by applicants for multiple entries to Canada without using a visa. It allows travelers to stay for 6 consecutive months. But if one wishes to stay a bit longer, then one must apply for a relevant Canadian visa.

The Canadian visas are valid for a period of 10 years or until the associated passport (of the applicant’s) expires. Similar to that of a Canadian eTA, the visa also grants authorization for multiple entries to the applicants. The important point to be noted is that the visa provides a particular of terms which may differ depending upon the applicant’s requirement.

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Should I apply for a Canadian visa or a Canadian eTA?

 A common question often arises in the minds of overseas travelers – whether I should apply for a Canadian visa or an eTA. 

Using the following criteria, one can decide whether to opt for a visa or an eTA.

The nationality of the applicant wishing to travel to Canada

If the applicant is from a visa-exempt nation, then it is mandatory to produce an eTA. But it also depends on the amount of time the traveler desires to stay in the country.

The purpose of arriving in Canada

All overseas travelers must apply for a relevant Canadian visa if they plan for the following –

  • Permanently relocate to Canada
  • Education purpose
  • Work-related plans

Travelers must obtain visas and other required permits to enter the country.

On the other hand, if international visitors desire to enter Canada for 

  • Tourism 
  • Leisure
  • Visit family members
  • Medical consultation

For the above-mentioned reasons, travelers can opt for an eTA, Electronic Travel Authorization provided by the Canadian authorities, as it is a simple and quick process. 

But in order to apply for an eTA, one must meet the required prerequisites mentioned by the authorities of Canada.

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What to do if I already have a valid Canadian visa?

If you already possess a valid and approved Canadian visa, then you can use the visa to enter and access the country. You need not apply for a Canadian eTA.

Do I need to apply for a visa or an eTA to transit through Canada?

All overseas travelers are required to produce valid travel authorizations even to transit through Canada. They can produce either a Canadian visa or a Canadian eTA. The type of authorization the applicant is required to produce completely depends on the nationality of the particular individual.

Citizens from visa-exempt nations are required to apply for an eTA and that eTA is valid for a period of 5 years. You can use this eTA as a valid travel authorization to transit through the country in order to reach another destination. Citizens who are not eligible to apply for a Canadian eTA must apply for a relevant Canadian transit visa. 


Check your eligibility for Online Canada Visa and apply for eTA Canada Visa 3 days in advance of your flight. British citizens, Italian citizens, Spanish citizens, French citizens, Israeli citizens, South Korean citizens, Portuguese citizens, and Chilean citizens can apply online for eTA Canada Visa. Should you need any help or require any clarifications you should contact our helpdesk for support and guidance.