Canada eTA refusals and cancellations

Updated: Jan 04, 2024 | Tags: Canada eTA Eligibility, Canada eTA Refusals, Canada eTA Denied

The Canada eTA has made it simple for travellers to obtain travel authorization to Canada through an online application form. Even though the majority of applicants are approved for eTA, a small percentage of applicants have their applications denied or cancelled for one reason or another.

It's important to understand the intricacies of eTA refusals and cancellations, as they can significantly impact your travel plans. This comprehensive article aims to demystify these two different outcomes, explaining the reasons behind them and guiding you on what steps to take in each case.

Canada eTA refusals and cancellations
Canada eTA refusals and cancellations

Understanding eTA refusals

The Canadian eTA is an entry requirement for visa-exempt foreign nationals traveling to Canada by air. While it simplifies entry into Canada, certain circumstances may lead to its refusal or cancellation, each with its own implications and course of action.

What is an eTA refusal?

An eTA refusal occurs when Canadian immigration authorities deny your application based on various eligibility or security criteria.

Common reasons for eTA refusal

Canada eTA applications can be denied for a variety of reasons. Below are the most common reasons:

Inaccurate or incomplete information: The most common cause for refusal is when applicants make a mistake by providing incorrect or inaccurate information, or fail to respond to a follow-up for additional documentation from IRCC (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada). Regardless of the reason, applicants should not try to travel to Canada as they will be denied boarding on their flight.

Security or health concerns: Issues related to security, criminal history, or health concerns may result in an eTA being refused.

Immigration history: Previous immigration violations in Canada or other countries can also be a cause for refusal.

What to do after a refusal

Unlike the American ESTA program, which does not allow applicants with criminal history to appeal or reapply with a chance of getting an approval, the Canadian eTA system gives these applicants the chance to reapply once they have corrected any issues that had resulted in the previous eTA refusal. This could be obtaining the right documentation on the second application, or showing proof that a pending conviction was dropped by the court. Since each eTA application is decided on a case-by-case basis, the previous eTA application history would likely not influence any future decisions. What will assist the processing team’s decision would be positive changes to your personal circumstances, such as obtaining full-time employment, showing no further offenses on your criminal record or a clear police report.

Review the refusal letter: Understand the specific reasons for your refusal, as outlined in the communication from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

Rectify mistakes: If the refusal is due to errors or missing information, consider reapplying with the correct details.

Consider alternative options: Depending on the reason for refusal, you may need to apply for a traditional visa or address the underlying issues before reapplying.

Gather supporting documentation: Prepare and organize all necessary documents to support your new application or appeal.

Seek professional advice: For complex refusals, consulting with immigration experts can provide clarity and direction.

Canada eTA Cancellations

What is an eTA Cancellation?

Cancellation of an eTA refers to the revocation of an already granted eTA by Canadian immigration authorities.

Typical reasons for cancellation

Usually when an eTA is cancelled you will be notified via email. In these circumstances, it is likely IRCC has received an update on your traveller profile and deemed you would be an immigration or security risk. These updates occur on an hourly or daily basis, and rely on data from other countries or other organizations which have data sharing agreements with Canada. If your Canada eTA has been cancelled, you should understand the reasons and try to correct them before submitting a new eTA application. You should also not attempt to board aircraft bound or in transit to Canada, as you will be denied without having an approved eTA. Here is a list of the most common reasons for eTA cancellations:

Change in circumstances: Significant changes in your circumstances or new information affecting your eligibility could lead to cancellation.

Discovery of misrepresentation: If it is found that your eTA was obtained based on false information, it may be cancelled.

Legal or health issues arising post-approval: New legal or health issues that arise after eTA approval can also trigger cancellation.

Responding to a cancellation

Understand the reason: Clarify why your eTA was cancelled through the communication received from IRCC. These reasons may affect future travel to Canada.

Address the underlying issue: Depending on the reason, you may need to provide additional documentation or legal clarification.

Reapply or seek legal advice: After addressing the issues, you might reapply or consult an immigration lawyer for complex cases. Understand the legal implications, especially if the cancellation is due to misrepresentation or other legal issues.

Can I appeal an eTA refusal or cancellation?

Both scenarios require a tailored approach to resolve the issues and move forward.

The only option of appealing an eTA would be to make a request to the Federal Court of Canada to review your case. The process of starting an appeal begins by hiring a Canadian immigration lawyer who will document your full case history from the time you submitted the eTA application, the details you submitted along with any communications between you and IRCC. The immigration lawyer would then apply for a judicial review on your behalf using the evidence. The objective would be to overturn the eTA refusal so you are granted permission to travel on an eTA.

Preventing refusals and cancellations

Ensure accuracy and completeness

Double-check the applicant information prior to submission. Verify all information in your eTA application for accuracy and completeness before submission.

Stay informed about eligibility

Familiarise yourself with the eTA requirements. Keep abreast of the eligibility criteria for a Canadian eTA and any changes to immigration policies.

Maintain compliance

Adhere to the eTA conditions while in Canada. Adhere strictly to the conditions of your eTA to avoid issues that could lead to cancellation.

Alternative options for applicants denied an eTA due to criminal history

Disclosing previous background history regarding travel and criminal history is required for eTA applicants over the age of 18. Recent criminal history may hinder your chances of getting an eTA approved. However, on your eTA application you will have the ability to describe the situation which led to the recent criminal incident or conviction. You can also provide reasons why you would no longer pose a security or immigration risk through actions you have taken to remediate the circumstances around your criminal behaviour, or, the life and personal development experience you have gained since the conviction.


Understanding the differences between eTA refusals and cancellations is crucial in determining the appropriate response. In both scenarios, being proactive, informed, and ready to address the specific reasons for the refusal or cancellation is key. Whether it involves reapplying with corrected information, consulting immigration professionals, or dealing with legal issues, handling these situations with diligence and clarity can help mitigate the challenges and pave the way for successful future travel to Canada.

In the event your eTA is denied or cancelled, IRCC allows applications to apply again for entry into Canada via the eTA, if applicants can provide evidence that there has been a change in circumstances which support the applicant’s claim they would no longer pose a significant security or immigration risk.