Updated: Nov 15, 2023
Before delving into the financial utilization, it's important to understand the Canada eTA. The eTA is a mandatory travel authorization that visa-exempt foreign nationals must obtain when traveling to or transiting through Canada by air. Introduced in 2016, the eTA is electronically linked to a traveler's passport and is valid for up to five years or until the passport expires.
The cost of applying for a Canada eTA is CAD $7. This fee is charged directly to the applicant upon submission of the online eTA application form. Despite its relatively low cost, the program has accumulated significant funds due to the volume of travelers who need to use it.
While the Canadian government has not released specific information on the exact breakdown of how the funds from the eTA program are used, the revenue generated generally goes into the country's Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF). The CRF is the account where the government deposits taxes and other revenues, and from which funds are withdrawn to pay for government programs and services.
A portion of the funds derived from the eTA program goes toward the operation of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), the federal department responsible for managing Canada's immigration system. The IRCC uses this funding to process applications, provide services to immigrants, and carry out other administrative functions.
The costs associated with these services can be extensive, including staffing, equipment, technology upgrades for processing applications, maintaining the security of personal data, and implementing measures to combat immigration fraud.
Some of the eTA revenue is allocated to agencies tasked with border security, such as the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). This includes supporting the infrastructure, technology, and personnel required to maintain secure borders. This funding aids in carrying out duties like passport and customs checks, conducting security screenings, and ensuring overall enforcement of immigration laws.
The remaining funds from the eTA program, like other government revenue, are used to support a wide range of government programs and services. This can include health care, education, infrastructure development, social services, and more. The specific allocation of these funds is determined as part of the federal government's budgeting process, based on the priorities and needs identified by the government.
Since its introduction on August 1, 2015, the eTA program has issued nearly 20.9 million eTAs. In order to apply for an eTA, individuals only require a valid passport, a means of payment such as a credit card, an email address, and access to the internet.
The eTA program first broadened its reach in April 2017 to include citizens from Brazil, Bulgaria, and Romania. Later that same year, Canada removed the visa requirements for all Bulgarian and Romanian citizens. At present, qualified Brazilian nationals still benefit from visa-free air travel to Canada.
Canada anticipates a surge of 200,000 (or 20%) additional visitors from these 13 countries within the upcoming year. Over the next ten years, it's expected that increased travel from these nations will generate over $160 million in extra tourism revenue
While the Canadian government has not disclosed the exact breakdown of how funds from the Canada eTA program are utilized, it's clear that this revenue plays a crucial role in supporting immigration services, enhancing border security, and funding other key government services and programs. The eTA, while a small fee for individual travelers, represents a significant source of funding that supports the functioning of Canada's immigration system and broader governmental functions.