Me and my famliy are meant to be flying to Canada tomorrow (19-6-2017) from the UK. We did not realise we had to apply for an eTA until today. The applications for my wife and two children have been approved. Mine has not been approved. I hold dual citizenship (British and New Zealand). I suspect it has been put on hold as I have previously had a Canadian work visa application declined. Given that the flight leaves at 11 am tomorrow morning, I assume my application will not be processed until after the flight leaves. Does anyone know if I will be able to board the flight? The email regarding my application states:

"if you do decide to travel to Canada, you may experience delays or be prevented from boarding your flight and/or entering Canada."

It sounds to me like it is worth giving it a go?

  • Prevented from boarding may be the operative phrase. Have you checked it online? Giving it a go should probably include a contingency plan (and ££££). If the airline won't board you, will your family go without you? What will it cost to rebook tickets, if/when an eTA is approved. What are the cost implications of cancelling other bookings.
    – Giorgio
    Jun 18, 2017 at 16:39
  • Yes, I have checked online. I will receive a reply within 72 hours. If I cannot go, family will go without me and I will have to book another flight. Tickets are not refundable or able to be changed. Thanks.
    – EMT32
    Jun 18, 2017 at 16:50
  • See what the airline will do right now. The immediate problem is that the flight departs the UK before the workday starts in Canada. You might also try an early morning, last-ditch phone call to the nearest consulate. They don't usually respond to eTA (or visa related) calls but, who knows, you might get lucky. You'll probably have a sleepless night anyway, right?
    – Giorgio
    Jun 18, 2017 at 16:54
  • Airline confirmed the answer below. Thanks for the help
    – EMT32
    Jun 18, 2017 at 19:05

2 Answers 2


As stated by Timatic, the database used by airlines:

Visa required, except for Passengers with a British passport with nationality of British Citizen shown on the bio-data page. The passenger must have an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA).

If ground staff lets you board, the airline will be heavily fined and could lose its licence to fly to Canada. What's more, they'll likely make you pay their costs and could ban you from flying with them again.

As you may guess, there's no way they'll take this risk.

So don't even waste time thinking about this. Wait for the ETA approval, and then get a new ticket as cheaply as you can.

  • That seems a little unclear. Is it saying that everyone needs an eTA and non-Brits also need a visa? Or, is it saying that only non-Brits need an eTA?
    – badjohn
    Jun 18, 2017 at 19:25
  • @badjohn that's the way timatic works. What it means is that British citizens who have an eTA are exempt from the visa requirement. (But, contrary to the quoted text, being a British citizen with an eTA is not the only way to get out of the visa requirement.)
    – phoog
    Jun 18, 2017 at 20:24
  • I think that my last trip to Canada was in 2013. I don't know whether the system was already in force, I just got on a plane from New York to Toronto. Note, that I am not advising the OP to do this. I am just trying to understand the rules.
    – badjohn
    Jun 18, 2017 at 20:28
  • 1
    @ba Visa-free nationals other than Americans need an eTA, whilst those coming on a visa do not. Strictly enforced since 10 November 2016
    – Crazydre
    Jun 18, 2017 at 22:46

Clearly the situation of the original poster has now been resolved one way or another. However, for the benefit of others in a similar situation here is some relevant information:

  1. The Canadian system handling eTA applications is completely overwhelmed and some of the questions on the electronic-only application form are impossible to answer accurately as the form does not allow for accurate answers on previous work visas
  2. I have personal experience of an eTA which the online checker declared to be valid being rejected when I attempted to check in
  3. The Canadian authorities refuse to deal with any questions by telephone. However emails to the UK High Commission are responded to within minutes rather than hours and meaningful help can be obtained in that way.

In my case, having attempted to check in the day before an early-morning flight to Canada, I had the situation resolved before leaving home -- a 5-hour delay, but I was able to catch the intended flight with my family.

  • hi John - HOW did you have the situation resolved ??
    – Fattie
    Sep 18, 2018 at 17:22

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