In order for you to enter Canada as national of a visa-free country, you require an eTA. An eTA is distinct from an ESTA, which are two different travel authorizations.
What is the difference between an eTA and an ESTA?
An eTA is an electronic travel authorization issued by the Canadian government for travelers from eligible countries entering Canada through an airport. It is issued to those traveling for the purposes of e.g. tourism and business, as well as fliers transiting through a Canadian airport.
An ESTA (which is part of the Visa Waiver Program) is similar to an eTA in that it is also an electronic travel authorization. However, it is issued by the American government and it is only required for those entering or transiting the US. You can read more about the ESTA system and apply here.
Do I need an ESTA if I am going to Canada?
Whether or not you also need an ESTA in addition to an eTA depends entirely your specific travel plans. I.e. if you are flying directly to Canada from your home country, then you do not require an ESTA, just an eTA.
On the other hand if, your travel plans involve one of the below possibilities, you might need an ESTA in addition to an eTA:
- Transiting through an American airport as part of your journey to and/or from Canada.
- If you plan to also visit the U.S. while in Canada and you plan on arriving through a port or airport.
How do I apply for an ESTA?
If you also need an ESTA for your journey, applying for one is thankfully a very simple process.
Simply visit the US Government website, fill out the application form and pay the application fee. You will then receive a response within 72 hours at the most, although most applicants usually receive a response shortly after submitting their application.
An ESTA works like an eTA in the sense that it is an electronic system, meaning that your ESTA is tied to your passport number, and you thus do not need to bring a physical copy of your ESTA.
However, it is different from an eTA in terms of its validity: It expires after 2 years, and is only valid for stays of up to 90 days.
If I have an ESTA do I also need an eTA?
Yes. If you are going to Canada, and you are a national of a visa-free country, then you most likely require an eTA. You can read more about how to apply for an eTA here.