Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) of Canada is transferred as a separate sheet-of-paper document that contains basically one number and the valid date. Can I, instead of keeping it with me for the next 5 years, write the eTA number in my passport? Will it be accepted by the border officers/airlines?

Note that this question is different from the one it is marked a duplicate of, as eta number is being asked by airlines as travel authorization, so it makes some sense to have it in your passport (comparing to random private notes).

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    The point of the eTA is that it's electronic and is stored in the Canadian immigration computer system. If your passport number is not stored in their system, then nothing you have written in your passport is going make one whit of difference. Apr 10, 2017 at 2:37
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    Airlines don't have access to their system and ask you for your eta number
    – sygi
    Apr 10, 2017 at 12:17

3 Answers 3


Don't do that.

Some border authorities regard any kind of writing or marks in a passport that are not put there by the issuer or a bona-fide visa or border authority, as "defacing" or "adulteration" of the passport.

Not every border guard in the world is equally intolerant of such things, but you never know which kind you'll run into. Possible consequences could range from simply not having the passport accepted (you're refused entry and sent back where you came from), to having the passport confiscated as "fake", to being arrested and charged with using a forged document ...

If you want to keep the eTA information conveniently together with your passport, use a sticky note.

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    Did you meant alteration instead of adulteration ?
    – Antzi
    Apr 10, 2017 at 8:14
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    @Antzi Adulteration: To make impure by adding extraneous, improper, or inferior ingredients.
    – brhans
    Apr 10, 2017 at 14:30
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    @brhans accordingly, adulterate is usually used with substances. Alteration is used far more frequently to describe the thing you aren't supposed to do to a passport than is adulteration.
    – phoog
    Apr 10, 2017 at 20:15
  • @phoog - speaking metaphorically though, an passport with someone's hand-written scribblings in it could be described (particularly by immigration authorities) as being compromised, untrustworthy, unreliable, or even perhaps 'impure'. A passport is only supposed to 'contain' authorized, proper, 'pure' things from trustworthy sources...
    – brhans
    Apr 10, 2017 at 21:14
  • @brhans sure, but most statutes avoid metaphor. See for example 18 USC §1543 (emphasis added): "Whoever falsely makes, forges, counterfeits, mutilates, or alters any passport or instrument purporting to be a passport, with intent that the same may be used; or Whoever willfully and knowingly uses, or attempts to use, or furnishes to another for use any such false, forged, counterfeited, mutilated, or altered passport..."
    – phoog
    Apr 10, 2017 at 21:21

As one of the previous answers indicates, writing in a passport besides in a place for a signature or return address could create issues.

eTAs are registered in the Canadian immigration system/Public Information Bank, and should not be carried around.

They are not visas, or electronic visas, as they are issued to nationals of visa-exempt countries.

There is no reason for one to carry it around unless you have it recently issued. I remember speaking to travellers who had "issues" with eTAs when arriving in Canada during the grace period.

In all of those cases, the eTA was recently issued, within the last week. It would seem it takes some time for it to register in the Canadian immigration system. The travellers had it printed, and carried it in addition to their papers for car rentals, tours, and so on.

One would assume that you have applied for an eTA well in advance of your travels, as some approvals extend past the several hour window for automatic approval.



No, no, just no

You do not need to carry the eTA in any form, only the passport, because the eTA appears when check-in staff and Canadian border guards scan your passport.

Furthermore, passport amendments are for authorities to make, not you. In theory you doing it may well render the passport invalid in the eyes of border authorities.

If you want to play it really safe, put the number on a post-it note

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    FWIW, I always carry printouts of electronic visas, because while a country's immigration can access their own systems, there's no guarantee that random airline agents at random airports can. And I've needed it on a few occasions, eg. flying back to Australia from Zurich with a non-Oz passport. Apr 10, 2017 at 2:38
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    Airlines do have policies of requiring travellers to have their documents in order, and ETAs are visas in all but name. Apr 10, 2017 at 7:05
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    Quite a few years ago, I know Australian ETA printouts were regularly requested (or even required) by some airlines. Also, one of the only times I didn't have a printout, it took a lot of time (and quite a bit of frustration) while going through exit passport control in Sydney because the officer typed the passport number incorrectly (confusion over an I / 1 IIRC) and could not find the ETA in the system. So it's always a good idea to have at least the number of the ETA / ESTA / eVisitor in electronic form around (e.g. in notes in your phone), and ideally a printout with your passport.
    – jcaron
    Apr 10, 2017 at 10:50
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    I'm speaking about eTA and not ESTA. And I have been asked it at least 3 times (online check-in, luggage dropoff, leaving Europe) during my last flight to Canada. I don't claim that airlines always ask for it, but your anecdotal evidence clearly doesn't cover all the flying experience.
    – sygi
    Apr 10, 2017 at 15:52
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    @sygi Fair enough
    – Crazydre
    Apr 10, 2017 at 15:58

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