Many traveler’s often get confused understanding the difference between eVisa and Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA). It is quite common to get confused and You are not alone!

We call eVisa and eTA are “soft visa” restrictions. This means you will not be able to board a plane to visit a country with just your passport to visit many countries (eg US/Canada). eVisa/eTA both are swift and easy to use electronic systems, almost similar but there are subtle differences and we will try to explain here.

Firstly ETA is NOT a visa. They are just authorizations required prior to travel. eVisas are like visas and you are required to apply online.

Secondly, ETA is only given to countries with Visa waiver program (VWP) agreements. So only nationals of visa waiver countries can apply for electronic travel authorizations. eVisas are different, any country national (sometimes there is specific list) can apply for evisa.

ETA and eVisas both can be applied online portal (not at embassy) or through travel agents.

Key Differences

Comparison eTA eVisa
Category Pre Travel Authorisation Visa permission
Permission No guarantee of entry Guarantee of entry at border
How to Apply Online Online
Must be used with Passport Passport
Applies to Visa Exempt Countries Eligible Countries
Validity 1-5 years 30 to 60 days
Entry Multiple Single / Multiple
Pre-Boarding Required Required

The final difference lies in days of stay and validity. eVisas are valid for 30 to 60 days, can be single/multiple entry. ETA can be valid for a long time and you are permitted to travel as many times you want. For example, Canada eTA is valid for five years or until your passport expires – whichever comes first. You can come to Canada as many times as you wish as long as your eTA remains valid. US approved ESTA application is generally valid for two years and allows multiple visits to the U.S. within that period without having to apply for another travel approval.

Note that for both eVisa or ETAs many countries require biometric/e-passports for travel (eg US). eVisas may be used only on the certain ports of entry (only at certain airports, restricted by land or sea eg Russia eVisa). Check or read the conditions carefully.

Early Development

ETA system commenced development in January 1996 and was implemented in Singapore on a trial basis on 11 September 1996. The eVisa program began in December 2000 after the feasibility of enabling visa applications to be lodged via the Internet. It started with universities applying for study program. Prior to the introduction of eVisa, the majority of visa applications were handled in paper form.

Photo: Pixabay