What is it in the first place?
ETA stands for “Electronic Travel Authorization”, a legal document which is required if you plan on entering Canada, whether for a brief vacation or an extended business trip. If you are a foreign national and qualify as visa-exempt, you absolutely need to obtain an ETA.
In other words, if you do not have this precious document, you will not be able to enter the country. They would probably just turn you around right at the border and send you back home. The ETA is electronically linked to your passport, just remember that it is a different type of document. This is a travel authorization, not a visa for Canada (so be happy, it will actually be easier to get your hands on it).
Who needs to have one of these?
Although we put that much emphasis on the importance of the ETA, it is not absolutely required for everyone – but it is still an essential necessity for the vast majority of people who intend to travel to Canada at some point.
Basically, this is needed by anyone in the great wide world who is arriving to Canada by airplane. This applies even to people who will only be in transit, for example, stopping at a Canadian airport to switch planes to some other destination.
If you are arriving by land or water route (e.g. by car, train, bus, boat, cruise ship etc.), then you will not need to get an ETA. To learn more about the entire process, you can take a look at this web page which has all the relevant official information.
Who are the people exempted from needing one?
If you are a tourist intending to visit this country for a vacation or holiday, you may want to hold up and do a double-check – there is chance that you may not need the ETA after all. For example, a resident of the United States would have a pretty good chance of being spared the hassle of securing a copy of this document.
However, you will need to carry and provide the right kind of identification document instead. This typically means a valid passport (usually a Canadian or American one) or some travel document of permanent residence (think about green cards).
How does the application process go?
The good news about this little bit of necessary bureaucracy is that it is fairly straightforward. In fact, you can do it all from home – no annoying queues and arguing with grumpy clerks behind counters. On that note, you may want to take a look at this guide on how to handle rude people in your everyday life: https://personalexcellence.co/blog/rude-people/
As for the application itself, it is as easy as just filling out a form online. Make sure to only do this via the official website of the Government of Canada, to avoid any rip-offs and potential scammers that may lurk out there.
Filling out the form in question lasts only a few minutes, and you get your ETA in an email, typically just a few minutes after you have completed the form. Sometimes though, if they ask you to submit some documents in support of your application, it can take up to a few days.
How can you make sure your request is approved?
Obviously, even though it is just a few minutes of filling out a form, you want to make sure that it goes right for you, that you request is approved and that you get your ETA in time to book your flight and properly plan everything for your trip. So what can you do?
Be careful not to make a mistake on your application form, such as listing the wrong passport number. This will delay your plans so much that you will be losing hair. Be honest with all of the answers you give to everything, and make sure to provide the most up to date, most relevant information that you possibly can. And of course the school days favorite: do a thorough final check before submitting your document(s).
Best of all, the only expense you will have is the minimal fee.