About 20 hours ago, I used a web browser to apply for a Canadian eTA.

Beyond belief, the web site interface does not, repeat not, give you a confirmation number.

Again, connectivity is working perfectly, and the web service is "working" properly, but, bizarrely, after payment it does not tell you any sort of confirmation number or other details, there's just a minimal "thanks" screen.

The small credit card charge seemed to go through instantly OK but,


  1. At the time of the application, I did not get an instant email "You have applied."

Obviously I've completely checked all spam filters and so on.

  1. I've received nothing at all since then

Has anyone recently actually applied for and gotten an eTA ? How long did it take between the card payment and getting it?

I can't use the "check your progress" web form because .. I didn't get an application number!!

Further, I'm thinking of simply applying again. That is a tricky issue - it could gum up the works. I don't suppose anyone has experience of that? I couldn't google anything.

This seems an insane situation.

Just for the record,

  • this was (of course) the actual gouvernement du Canada web site, not the many well-known scam sites

  • astonishingly the site does not give you a confirmation number after application, you only (should) get one via an email (as can be seen from a zillion complaints about this on the www). The programmers of the site apparently don't know how to handle the return from the (cheap) card processor they use, it just breaks.

  • the card charge (about CAD7) did go through perfectly, i.e. it appears on my credit card www site

  • 2
    Did you check the spam filter of your email account? Did the site give you a confirmation page with an application number when you submitted the form? Did you make a note of it or print the page? Did you make this application through the official Canadian government site? Sep 18 '18 at 18:32
  • To follow up on @DJClayworth's questions, how much was the charge on your card? I submitted an eTA application for someone else a few weeks ago and it went through pretty much instantly, although I do not know exactly how long it took because I do not have access to that person's e-mail account.
    – phoog
    Sep 18 '18 at 19:01
  • For anyone googling here, the basic points mentioned by DJC are covered in the question.
    – Fattie
    Nov 12 '18 at 5:02
  • Was the charge really 7 USD? I thought the fee was 7 CAD.
    – phoog
    Nov 12 '18 at 5:11

This info may help others ...

I took a huge risk and simply applied again.

Very fortunately, it worked.

So, within seconds of clicking "pay", I got the actual eTA via email, including the eTA number.

For anyone facing this total catastrophe, note that

  1. Even in the second case when it worked, I did not get the "first" email stating your application number. Thus TBC indeed I do not know the actual "application number" for either the second attempt (which worked) or the first attempt (which utterly, totally failed).

Interestingly, this means that if there was some problem I can not interact with them in any way. You must have the "application number" to lodge any sort of communication.

(Indeed, I will never be able to get back the $7 from the first attempt!!)

  1. Again to be clear, regarding my first attempt it just utterly failed in every way possible. The $7 charge went through correctly, but (i) I did not get the "you've applied" email, hence (ii) I have absolutely no way to interact with them, they demand that number and (iii) I did not get the eTA

  2. Regarding the second attempt the email which staggered in to my email box was highly "broken", all the headers were f'd up, the formatting and grammar were comic, etc.

Surveying the internet, this is clearly a crisis-level problem that is plaguing many folks trying to "go to Canada".

The idea of applying again is a nightmare, you can see it could drastically gum up the works. Fortunately in my case it did work as described.

  • Remember that there's also an alternative option: apply for an ESTA instead and cross through a land border :) Or, if you have time, apply for neither and fo through Mexico :)
    – JonathanReez
    Sep 19 '18 at 4:55
  • 2
    You should be able to get your $7 back through your credit card company through a "chargeback". It'll probably be a lot of hassle, and for most people it's probably not worth the time for that relatively small amount, but the principle of it might make you happy. (It would make me happy if I was successful, but even more annoyed if I failed. For my own sanity I'd probably do best to just let it go.)
    – AndyT
    Sep 19 '18 at 9:17
  • Hi Andy. Indeed, the $7 is utterly irrelevant :-)
    – Fattie
    Sep 19 '18 at 10:28
  • 1
    @AndyT: Though I wonder if the Government of Canada will be angry that you're trying to get your money refunded for a service that they believe you actually received. And they're the government after all, so if they see it as attempted credit card fraud, in principle they could blacklist your eTA, put out a warrant on you, etc. So there might be more at risk than your time. Nov 12 '18 at 4:48
  • 1
    quite possibly the ETA confirmation you got right after the second application was in response to your first application.
    – jwenting
    Nov 12 '18 at 6:39

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