Generally, eTAs are processed quickly by the country you are looking to enter, taking only minutes, hours, or a couple of days.

Occasionally, eTA processing times can take longer, which can understandably lead to frustration and uncertainty, especially if you applied for the eTA at the last minute.

If your eTA is taking a long time, it’s going to almost always be down to one of these six reasons.

6 Reasons for eTA Processing Delays

1. High Volume of Applications

During peak travel seasons or otherwise busy periods, there are inevitably a greater number of people applying for eTAs.

This surge in eTA applications results in delays in processing, as immigration authorities have to review and verify many more applications than usual.

2. Additional Security Screening

Immigration authorities have rigorous security measures in place to ensure the safety and integrity of their country’s immigration system, so sometimes your eTA application may have to undergo additional security screening.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that your eTA application will be denied, but if your application raises any security concerns or matches certain criteria for further scrutiny, it may require additional time to process.

3. Incomplete or Inaccurate Application

If you submit an incomplete or inaccurate eTA application, you can expect delays as immigration authorities may need to reach out to you to clarify certain information or request additional documentation.

Naturally, this back-and-forth communication can prolong the time it takes to process your application.

4. Background Checks and Verifications

Your eTA application may involve background checks and verifications to confirm your eligibility and admissibility into the country.

Your travel history, criminal records, and immigration violations, among other factors, may all be checked.

If any discrepancies or issues are found during these checks, your application will take longer to process.

5. Unforeseen Circumstances

Sometimes, unforeseen circumstances beyond your control, such as natural disasters, pandemics, or political events, can affect the time it will take to process your application.

There’s not much you can do about this other than to hang tight.

6. Technical Issues or System Updates

Another factor completely outside your control that can affect the time it takes to process your eTA are technical issues or system updates within the country’s eTA processing system.

This has previously happened to travelers who attempted to submit their ESTA application for entry into the USA.

Generally, these issues will quickly be fixed, but can still lead to temporary delays.

What You Can Do if Your eTA is Taking Longer Than Expected

If your eTA is taking longer than you expected, there are a few things you can do.

1. Check Your Application Status

Sometimes your application may have been approved, but you were not notified through email or other means.

So, it’s a good idea to visit the official government website or the online platform where you submitted your eTA application to check its status.

Sometimes, you may see updates or notifications regarding processing times and delays, too.

2. Contact Immigration Authorities

If a long amount of time has passed, and you still haven’t heard any word about your application, consider contacting the immigration authorities.

They will be able to personally check and provide insights into the status of your application and what reasons there might be for the delay.

3. Be Patient and Plan Ahead

Sometimes there isn’t much else you can do other than sit and wait it out as you come to terms that eTA processing times can vary, and delays may occur for various reasons outside your control.

Just remember that next time you apply for an eTA, make sure to submit your application well in advance of your planned travel dates to allow time for stress-free processing.

Ella Dunham, a Freelance Travel Journalist and Marketing Manager, boasts an impressive career spanning eight years in the travel and tourism sectors.

Honored as one of "30 Under 30" by TTG Media (the world’s very first weekly travel trade newspaper), a "Tour Operator Travel Guru" and "Legend Award" winner, Ella is also a Fellow of the Institute of Travel, a Member of the Association of Women Travel Executives, has completed over 250 travel modules, and hosts travel-focused segments on national radio shows where she provides insights on travel regulations and destinations.

Ella has visited over 40 countries (with 10 more planned this year).