Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) is an online registration process that allows a national to enter a country to which he or she is exempt from a visa. For instance, French nationals are exempt from getting a visa to the USA; however, they must receive authorization to travel from the U.S.A.’s electronic travel authorization program before they can do so. The purpose of the ETA program is to prescreen travelers prior to their entry, since the traveler may be someone the country has an interest in excluding, even if he or she is visa exempt.
The ETA process is sometimes confused with the Evisa process. Evisa processes are used by those who need a visa for entry, and can apply for the visa electronically. The Evisa serves as both the ETA and the visa application process because it screens the applicant’s travel intent, and serves as a requirement check for visas. Typically, the online visa application is more extensive, requiring more background information from the applicant, a passport photo, heftier filing fees, as well as purpose and destination information. With this distinction, below are the ETA programs currently in operation in the world.
Argentina has an ETA program called Autorizacion de Viaje Electronica (AVE) in Spanish. It is reserved for certain nationalities already in possession of a U.S.A. tourist visa (B-2) or a valid Schengen visa for Europe. Those already in possession of these visas may register their visit instead of undergoing the full visa application procedure. Nationals from the following countries can take advantage of this ETA when traveling to Argentina: Albania, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Bahrain, Belize, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Bhutan, Cape Verde, Cambodia, Central African Republic, China, Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, India, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Kiribati, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Mauricio, Moldova, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nambia, Nauru, Nepal, Niger, Oman, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leon, Solomon Islands, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Tonga, Tuvalu, Uganda, Vanuatu, Vietnam, Zambia, Zimbabwe. Nationals of these countries may apply for ETA for entry for a period of up to 90 days here: http://www.migraciones.gov.ar/ave/index.htm.
Australia has an ETA program for which certain visa exempt nationals may apply online, through the airlines, or travel agencies. ETA eligible passports include: Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, UK, UK overseas, United States, and Vatican City. However, the online application is only available to those from Brunei, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea and the U.S.A. These nationals may apply for an ETA in advance of their travels here: https://www.eta.homeaffairs.gov.au/ETAS3/etas. Those who cannot personally apply for their ETA online may do so through their airline or travel agency.
Canada has an ETA for most visa-exempt travelers except U.S. Citizens, those in transit to the U.S., with a visa, or on official duties. When arriving by flight, nationals of the following countries will need to apply for their ETA prior to entry: Andorra, Australia, Austria, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, British Citizens (overseas nationals, overseas citizens, and overseas territories citizens, and British subjects), Brunei, Bulgaria, Chile, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Samoa, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates, USA (lawful permanent residents), and Vatican City. The ETA application form may be accessed online here: https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/visit-canada/eta/apply-passport-information.html.
Morocco implemented on November 1, 2018 an Electronic Travel Authorization process called l’Autorisation Electronique de Voyage (AVEM) for nationals of Mali, Guinea, and Republic of Congo. These countries are currently visa-exempt from Morrocco, but must nevertheless fill out the online AVEM form at least 96 hours before their date of departure to Morocco. Access to the online form may be found here: http://www.acces-maroc.ma.
United Kingdom has an ETA for only certain nationalities and some online visa processing, however, it involves an in-person appearance for biometrics, so the process for visa processing is not completely online. There is electronic visa waivers for Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, UAE, but not for other nationalities. The UK’s ETA site may be accessed here: https://www.evw.uk.
The USA’s ETA is called Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). Nationals of the following countries are visa-exempt, but they will need to register their visit on ESTA prior to traveling to the U.S.: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and Taiwan. Applications for the ESTA may be submitted here: https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/.
Honorable mention: New Zealand is expected to implement its own ETA in the second half of 2019. This ETA will apply to airline crew members and passengers who are currently visa exempt. The EU is expected to implement a similar program for nationals of countries currently exempt from visa requirements to the EU in 2021.