Electronic Travel Authorization

What is an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA)?

An Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) is a prerequisite for entry imposed by certain countries on visa-exempt travelers. It is not a physical document but rather a digital document that can be conveniently obtained online. The ETA acts as a security measure and a preliminary assessment conducted by these countries through interconnected electronic systems linked to security databases. Its purpose is to identify any potential risks posed by these visa-exempt travelers, encompassing aspects such as security concerns, illegal immigration, and even public health hazards.

The concept of electronic travel authorization systems gained global recognition in 1996 when Australia introduced the first electronic system for travel authorizations. Following Australia’s pioneering initiative, numerous countries have adopted similar systems. For instance, in 2008, the United States launched the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), while Canada introduced the Canadian Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) in 2015. New Zealand followed suit with the New Zealand Electronic Travel Authorization (NZeTA) in 2019. Furthermore, the United Kingdom is slated to introduce the UK Electronic Travel Authorization (UK ETA) in 2023, and the European Union is expected to join electronic travel authorization systems in 2024 through the implementation of the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS), which will be applicable for visiting the entire Schengen area.

Benefits of Electronic Travel Authorizations

Electronic travel authorizations offer various benefits to both issuing countries and eligible travelers. The main advantages of ETAs include:

Streamlined Procedures

The process of obtaining an ETA is streamlined and user-friendly. Applicants can conveniently apply online from anywhere, and the application forms are designed to be simple and intuitive. In most cases, processing times are quick, often taking just a few minutes, while some authorizations may require a few days for completion.


Electronic travel authorizations generally entail significantly lower fees compared to sticker or electronic visas. Additionally, some authorizations have extended validity periods, lasting for several years. This adds to the cost-effectiveness for applicants.

Enhanced Security

ETA systems empower countries to enhance border control measures by conducting thorough security checks on travelers prior to their arrival. This proactive approach allows for the assessment of security risks, identification of potential threats, and implementation of preemptive measures.

Flexibility of Use

ETAs often offer the convenience of multiple-entry privileges, allowing eligible travelers the freedom to make multiple visits to the issuing country within an extended validity period that can extend for several years. This flexibility provides travelers with greater convenience and adaptability.

Eligibility for Electronic Travel Authorizations

Naturally, not all foreign travelers can apply for an ETA in countries that have implemented such systems. Instead, these countries restrict eligibility to specific nationalities and under certain conditions. The key eligibility criteria imposed by countries utilizing electronic travel authorization systems include:

Nationality of the applicant

ETAs are typically issued to travelers from visa-exempt nationalities. However, in some cases, additional nationalities may also be eligible, subject to specific conditions. For example, certain nationalities may be eligible for Canada's ETA, provided they meet additional requirements, such as previous visa history.

Purpose of travel

ETAs grant permission for specific activities and purposes. While primarily designed for tourism and leisure, some authorizations may also cover business purposes, transit, study, or specific forms of employment. The upcoming UK ETA exemplifies this flexibility by expanding the range of eligible travel purposes, including specific work activities

Mode of travel

Certain countries require applicants to use specific modes of transportation to be eligible for an ETA. For example, Canada limits the authorization to air travelers, whereas New Zealand allows travelers on cruise ships to apply for the New Zealand Electronic Travel Authorization (NZeTA), irrespective of their nationality.

Additional requirements

Some countries impose supplementary requirements on electronic travel authorization applicants, or specific applicant categories. These additional requirements may include health tests or demonstrating a clean criminal record. For instance, the Australian ETA system follows similar practices in this regard.

Fees for Electronic Travel Authorizations

Application fees are a fundamental requirement for electronic travel authorizations and must be paid during the application process. However, in certain cases, specific applicant categories may be exempted from these fees. For example, the ETIAS authorization exempts applicants under 18 years and over 70 years from the application fees. Typically, fees for electronic travel authorizations vary from country to country. However, in general, these application fees are considerably lower compared to most visa types and other travel documents required for entry into specific destinations. For example, the Canadian electronic travel authorization (eTA) carries a fee of only CAD 7, whereas the fee for a temporary resident visa for Canada is CAD 100. Here are some examples of widely applied for electronic travel authorizations and their respective application fees:

  • Australian Electronic Travel Authority: AUD 20.
  • New Zealand Electronic Travel Authorization (NZeTA): NZD 17 for application through the mobile app or NZD 23 for application through the website.
  • Canadian Electronic Travel Authorization: CAD 7.
  • US Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA): USD 21.
  • Korean Electronic Travel Authorization (K-ETA): KRW 10,000 (approximately USD 8).
  • UK Electronic Travel Authorization: GBP 10.
  • ETIAS for Schengen Area: EUR 7.

Generally, application fees paid during the application process are non-refundable in case of rejection. However, in some cases, the fees may be divided into two parts, as in the case of the US Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), where the total cost is USD 21. This cost is divided into processing fees (USD 4, non-refundable in case of rejection) and authorization fees (USD 17, payable only upon approval of the application). It’s important to note that in addition to the official application fees, there may be additional service provider charges that applicants need to consider.

eTA fees

Requirements for Obtaining an Electronic Travel Authorization

Specific application requirements for ETAs may vary, but there are common fundamental prerequisites shared by the majority of electronic authorization systems. These requirements are generally straightforward and easily fulfilled by most applicants. They include:

Valid passport

All applicants must possess a valid passport. Typically, the remaining validity period should be at least six months, although it is advisable to have a longer remaining validity period, as the electronic travel authorization is linked to the passport's validity.

Bank Card

To cover the fees associated with the ETA, applicants are required to provide valid credit or debit card details. Some systems may also offer alternative electronic payment methods, such as PayPal, as additional options.

Email address

Applicants need to provide a valid email address during the application process to receive their travel authorization if approved.

Personal photograph

Certain types of electronic travel authorizations may require applicants to upload a personal photograph or take a photo of themselves directly using their mobile device's camera during the application process. Examples of such requirements can be found in the Australian and New Zealand ETAs.

Applying for an Electronic Travel Authorization: Step-by-Step Guide

The process of applying for an electronic travel authorization is known for its simplicity, with most applicants able to complete the application in just a few minutes. Although the specific steps may vary depending on the destination, the typical application process involves the following stages:

  1. Accessing the Application Platform
    The first step is to access the designated application platform. For certain types of travel authorizations, like the Australian ETA, applicants can apply through a mobile app that they need to download onto their phones. Conversely, the Canadian ETA applications are submitted exclusively through the official website of the Canadian Immigration and Citizenship Department (IRCC). Some countries offer both options, allowing applicants to choose between a mobile app or the government website.
  2. Filling out the Application Form
    The main step in the application process is filling out the online application form. Applicants will provide their personal information, such as their name, nationality, date of birth, and passport number. They may also need to provide details about their intended trip, including the expected date of departure. Additionally, certain electronic travel authorizations may require applicants to upload a passport copy, a personal picture, or scan the passport data page using their phone’s camera.
  3. Payment of Visa Fees.
    applicants are required to pay the application fee using a valid payment method, such as a credit card or debit card. Some ETA programs may offer fee exemptions for specific applicant categories.
  4. Receiving the Electronic Travel Authorization
    Upon approval of the application, applicants will receive their electronic travel authorization via the email address provided during the application process. Once received, travelers are free to utilize the authorization to visit their intended destination according to their preferences, as long as it remains valid.
eTA processing time

Electronic Travel Authorization Processing Times

After completing the application and paying the required fees, the processing time for electronic travel authorization applications tends to be relatively short. It can range from a few minutes for certain types, such as the Canadian eTA, to up to 72 hours for authorizations issued by the United States and New Zealand. However, in some cases, applications may take longer to process if further verification is required by the decision-making authorities. Applicants can typically check the status of their applications through the application platforms during the decision waiting period.

Validity and Duration of Stay for ETAs

Most electronic travel authorizations have long validity periods that can extend for several years, allowing holders to travel multiple times to their destination throughout the validity period. However, it’s important to note that the validity of electronic travel authorizations is strictly tied to the validity of the passport used to obtain them. Therefore, regardless of the remaining validity period of an electronic travel authorization, it will not be valid for travel if the passport used to obtain it has expired.

In addition to validity, each electronic travel authorization allows a specific duration of stay for each visit during the validity period. Here are some examples of validity and stay periods available for holders of some of the most prominent electronic travel authorizations:

  • Australian Electronic Travel Authority (ETA): valid for 12 months and allows a stay period of up to 3 months per visit.
  • New Zealand Electronic Travel Authorization (NZeTA): valid for 2 years for regular travelers and 5 years for crew members. Allows a stay period of up to 6 months within any 12-month period.
  • Canadian Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA): valid for 5 years and allows a stay period of up to 6 months per visit.
  • US Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA): valid for 2 years and allows a stay period of up to 90 days per visit.
  • Korean Electronic Travel Authorization (K-ETA): valid for 2 years and the allowed period of stay per visit varies depending on nationality, but usually ranges from 1 to 3 months.
  • UK Electronic Travel Authorization: valid for 2 years and allows a maximum stay of 6 months per visit.
  • European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS): valid for 3 years and allows the holder to stay in the Schengen area for up to 90 days within any 180-day period.

Usually, ETAs cannot be extended beyond their expiration dates, and travelers must apply for a new authorization to replace the expired one. However, in some limited cases, holders of electronic travel authorizations may be able to extend their allowed stay period by obtaining certain permits from relevant immigration authorities. The process and requirements for such extensions can vary from country to country.

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