If you are a foreign national that is planning on traveling to or through Canada, be forewarned: from March 15, 2016 onwards, you will need to have an Electronic Travel authorization before boarding a plane to Canada.
What is an eTA?
It is an entry requirement for many foreign nationals that are coming to or travelling through Canada by air.
The new eTA requirement lets Canada screen travelers before they even enter the country. The authorization is electronically linked to your passport and is valid for five years or until your passport expires, whichever comes first.
How do I get an eTA?
You have to fill out an application for an eTA. The cost to apply in 2016 is $7.
You basically have to complete an online form with the following information:
- A valid passport from a visa-exempt country
- You cannot apply using a Refugee Travel Document, Emergency Travel Document, Organization of American States (OAS) Travel Document or a UN Laissez-Passer.
- If you are a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. and you do not have a passport, you can apply for an eTA with:
- A valid U.S. Refugee Travel Document
- A valid Permit to Re-Enter the United States;
- A credit card
- A Visa, MasterCard, American Express
- Prepaid credit cards are also accepted; and
- A valid email address.
You will also have to provide information such as: whether you have health issues, your marital status, whether you have a criminal record, and how much money you are traveling with.
It’s important to know that you can only apply one person at a time. If you are traveling with your family, then each family member will need their own eTA.
Who is exempt?
There are travellers who are exempt from having to apply for an eTA before coming to Canada, those include but are not limited to:
- American citizens;
- Those who hold a valid Canadian visa;
- Foreign nationals who are passengers on a flight stopping in Canada for the sole purpose of refuelling and
- Possess proper documents to enter the United States and their flight is bound for that country, or
- They were lawfully admitted to the United States and their flight originated in that country;
- Visitors, students and workers, who seek to re-enter Canada after solely visiting either the United States or St. Pierre and Miquelon, providing that they return to Canada by the end of the period initially authorized for their stay or any extension to it.
I am a Canadian citizen/dual Canadian citizen/permanent resident of Canada
No, when you are traveling and re-entering Canada, you will have to have a valid Canadian passport or a permanent resident card before being allowed to re-enter the country.
Canadian citizens, Canadian citizens who hold dual citizenship and permanent residents are not eligible for an eTA.
From March 15, 2016 to early fall of 2016, the Canadian government will allow foreign nationals who don’t have an eTA to enter Canada. However, these travellers must have appropriate travel documents and meet the basic requirements to enter Canada.
If you are unsure on whether you need an eTA before coming to Canada, you may want to give Immigration and Citizenship Canada a call and/or consult with a lawyer.
Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA)
What you need to visit Canada as a tourist