Visa – Entry to Canada (eTA application) & to the USA (ESTA application)

Categories: Travel reports, North America, Canada

After spending 7 wonderful days with A-ROSA in France, our journey went even further 🙂 Our next destination was Vancouver in Canada. From here we started our week-long Alaska cruise with Princess Cruises to Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay National Park up to Whittier (Anchorage).

Our flight from Paris to Vancouver with Air Canada

Via A-ROSA we had booked a transfer, which took us early in the morning from the ship in Saint Denis in just under 20 minutes to the airport Paris-Charles de Gaulle. Luckily, our flight from Paris to Vancouver with Air Canada departed on time at 9.25am.

The flight time was about 10 hours and thanks to the time difference we landed on time at just after 10 o’clock in the morning at the airport in Vancouver. You fly almost half the day and arrive at your destination only an hour later 😉 A delay would also have been problematic for us today, as we had to check in at 4.30 p.m. on our cruise ship – the Royal Princess. So all this was planned relatively tightly, but could not be realized otherwise. Otherwise we would have liked to have spent another 1 or 2 nights before the cruise in Vancouver.

Our flight with a Boeing 787-8 from Air Canada was very quiet and pleasant, so we can definitely recommend the airline.

Flight Air Canada Paris Vancouver

Our Air Canada flight from Paris to Vancouver

Entry requirements for Canada

In order to enter Canada, it is usually necessary to apply for an eTA electronic travel permit or visa in advance. Exactly what the difference is, how you can apply for your entry permit online and which entry you do not need at all, we explain in the following sections.

eTA Application Canada Passport, German Passport, Travel Report

General information (eTA and visa)

Anyone flying to Canada by plane as a German citizen for a holiday or business trip does not need a visa. Instead of a visa, it is sufficient to apply for an electronic travel authorisation (eTA). This also applies if you make a stopover in Canada (transit) on a flight. The eTA is valid for a maximum of five years or until the expiry date of the passport. With the travel permit, you are allowed to enter Canada indefinitely – but not more than six months at a time. In addition to Germany, citizens of the following countries (“Visa-exempt” countries) may also apply for an eTA: Andorra, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Great Britain, Ireland, Iceland, Italy, Croatia, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Sweden, Switzerland, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain, Czech Republic and Hungary.

Travellers from the above countries who arrive to Canada by land (car, bus, train) or by boat (cruise) do not require a visa or an eTA to enter the country.

You must apply for a visa if you want to stay in Canada for more than six months, if you are in employment with a Canadian employer, if you have the nationality of a country that is not a “visa-exempt” country, or if you had to answer “yes” to one of the background questions in the eTA application. As for the United States, Canada has different types of visas, depending on the reason for travel: Study Permit, Tourist Visa, Transit Visa, Parent and Grandparent Super Visa, Work Permit, Working Holiday Program or the Federal Skilled Worker Program – each with its own requirements and obligations. In principle, a distinction is made between a temporary residence visa (Termporary Resident Visa) and a permanent resident visa. A visa application requires a valid passport, a completed application form,as well as a number of documents (e.g. sufficient financial resources) or evidence (e.g. medical examinations, certificate of leadership or a valid health insurance).

Apply for electronic travel authorisation (eTA) online

In 2015, the Canadian government introduced eTA (Electronic Travel Authorisation). The eTA is much easier, faster and cheaper to apply for than a visa. It can be requested online on the official website of the Canadian government. In most cases, confirmation of the issue of an eTA will be sent within a few minutes. The application costs USD 7 (CAD) and can be paid by credit card, UnionPay, JCB Card or Interac. It is important to have received the confirmation for the eTA before checking in for the flight to Canada.

If you are unsure when completing the eTA application or need special assistance with some details, you can also use the service of a visa agency. For example, the eTA application from is simple and clear. We have described in more detail the advantages of using a visa agency below.

Video about the application for the eTA

The following video briefly explains how to apply for eTA for Canada from

Immigration for the USA at Vancouver’s Cruise Ship Terminal

The special thing about an Alaska Cruise with start in Vancouver is that you already have to enterthe USA in the Cruise Ship Terminal. After we had done the official check-in at Princess and received our boarding passes, we went on to “Security & U.S. Customs and Border Protection”. Before you board the ship, you have to enter the USA directly.

Entry requirements for the USA

In order to enter the United States, it is important to apply for an ESTA or a visa in advance. Exactly what the difference is and how you can apply for your entry permit online, we will explain in the following sections.

ESTA Application USA Passport, Travel Report, German Passport

General information

In general, each traveler needs a travel permit or visa to enter the United States, which must be applied for in advance. Both require a valid passport, which must meet some criteria:

Since April 2016, only a machine-readable biometric passport (ePass) is accepted for entry for adults, which must be valid for the entire duration of the trip and at least up to and including the day of re-departure. In the past, the rule was that the passport must be valid for at least 6 months after entry. However, since Germany was included in the so-called “6-Month-Club”, this is no longer necessary. The biometric passport, which has been available in Germany since November 2005, contains, among other things, a memory chip on which the biometric data of the passport holder is stored. A biometric passport can be identified by a symbolon the front. A temporary passport, children’s passport or identity card is not valid to enter the United States.

What is the difference between ESTA and a VISUM?

First of all, it is important to understand that there is a difference between ESTA and a visawhen entering the USA.

The ESTA stands for “Electronic System for Travel Authorisation” and is part of the Visa Waiver Program. This program is valid for citizens of 38 countries such as Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Germany, Italy, Spain or Switzerland and entitles them to travel to the USA without a visa. The ESTA cannot therefore be requested automatically by every traveller from each country.

ESTA is therefore not a classic visa, although it is often referred to as such. A successful ESTA application means that the owner will receive a two-year entry permit to the United States for business or private reasons, including Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.” The entry permit is valid for an unlimited number of journeys within the two-year validity period, but each visit may not last more than 90 days.

It is important to note that you must submit an ESTA application at least 72 hours before departure to the United States. Until now, registration could be made shortly before check-in at the airport, but this is no longer possible, according to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website! If you have received a new passport in the meantime or if the last name has changed, you must apply for a new electronic entry permit via ESTA.

A visa is a legal permit to stay in the United States and is required depending on the specific purpose of the trip and the desired duration of the stay, e.g. for a study or work permit or vacation travel that lasts longer than 90 days. Applicants for a U.S. visa must register online on the GCI Federal page, select the type of visa they need to stay, fill out the forms, and then appear in person for an interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Since 31 May 2019, it is mandatory to provide information about your own social media accounts when applying for a visa – but not for the ESTA. A visa for the USA costs between 150 and 250 EUR, depending on the type.

Difference ESTA Visa USA, Entry Requirements, Residence Permit, Travel Report, United States, Immigration

What is the difference between an ESTA and a visa to enter the United States?

Apply for electronic travel authorisation (ESTA) online

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security charges a fee of USD 14 for an online application via the official website. You can pay the fee by credit card (MasterCard, VISA, American Express, Discover) or PayPal. However, the ESTA is not a guarantee that you will be granted entry to the United States of America – but it is the requirement to be allowed to travel at all. The decision as to whether to enter the United States is ultimately up to the relevant US border officials (Security & U.S. Customs and Border Protection).

If you are unsure when completing the ESTA application or need special assistance with some information, you can also use the service of a visa agency. For example, the ESTA application form from is simple and clear. We have described in more detail the advantages of using a visa agency below.

Video of the application for the ESTA

The following video briefly explains how to apply for the ESTA for the USA with

Who is worth using a visa agency for?

In general, most entry permits can now be applied for online on your own via the official websites of the countries, such as on the website of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Since not all websites or forms are always available on German, so you may be unsure what to enter where and where, where, there are agencies that help you apply for entry permits and visa applications. This will cost a little more, but you will get a lot of additional services. is one of the largest visa agencies where you can apply for different visa applications for Turkey, USA, Canada, India, Egypt, Australia, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Myanmar and Cambodia quickly and easily online. You will receive expert and German-language support by e-mail and telephone and an automatic check of all completed application forms for common errors. Customer service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If there are possible errors or incompleteness in the entered data, staff will immediately contact one to ensure that the request is processed quickly and correctly. If an application is still rejected despite the support and control, the full amount for the visa will be refunded.

Attention: Since the conditions for entry may change in the short term, it is advisable to always take a look at the pages of the Foreign Office (only for German people). Here is all the latest information incl. Travel and security instructions, entry and customs regulations for all countries of the world.