This year will see a fundamental change in the way Canada welcomes temporary visitors, with the full introduction of a new pre-screening system for visa-exempt individuals, known as electronic Travel Authorization (eTA). Travellers may be familiar with a similar system used in the United States, known as ESTA, which has been in operation for a number of years.
The government of Canada recently announced that, as of September 29, 2016, an eTA would be mandatory for visa-exempt travellers flying to or transiting through Canada by air. Exceptions include U.S. citizens and persons with a valid Canadian visa. Until September 29, 2016, visa-exempt travellers who do not have an eTA can board their flight as long as they have appropriate travel documents, such as a valid passport.
An initial date of March 15, 2016 had initially been set for full implementation of the eTA system. However, a leniency period was introduced before this came to pass. The leniency period will end on September 29.
What is an eTA?
The new eTA system aims to provide stress-free travel for visa-exempt individuals by requiring them to complete an online form before departure. Visa-exempt individuals seeking temporary entry to Canada are asked to complete a short online form, in which they provide some personal information and answer a few basic questions relating to criminality or medical issues.
To complete the online form, applicants need:
- a valid passport from a visa-exempt country;
- a credit card to pay the $7 CAD fee;
- a valid email address; and
- access to the internet and a few minutes of time.
A fee of CAD $7.00 is required for processing. In most cases, the eTA will be granted within minutes of applying and linked electronically to the applicant’s passport. The eTA is then valid for a period of five years from the day on which it is issued to the applicant or until the earliest of the following days, if they occur before the end of that period:
- the day on which the applicant’s passport or other travel document expires;
- the day on which the eTA is cancelled; or
- the day on which a new eTA is issued to the applicant.
The eTA includes the applicant’s name, date and place of birth, gender, address, nationality, and passport and/or travel document information. If the applicant is unable to make the application by means of the electronic system because of a physical or mental disability, it may be made by another means, including a paper application form.
To learn more about the eTA, please consult this comprehensive electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) FAQ sheet.
Who is visa-exempt, and who needs an eTA?
Unless otherwise exempt, citizens of the following countries must obtain an eTA in order to enter Canada as of September 29, 2016:
|Andorra||Anguilla||Antigua & Barbuda|
|Turks and Caicos||United Kingdom|
A number of exemptions from the requirement to obtain pre-approval to travel are in place, including:
- nationals of the United States;
- individuals already in possession of a Canadian temporary resident visa;
- certain foreign diplomats;
- commercial air crew;
- citizens of France who are residents of St. Pierre and Miquelon;
- individuals in possession of a visa to enter the United States on a flight bound for that country in transit through Canada, where the sole purpose of the flight stopping in Canada is for purpose of refuelling;
- individuals transiting through Canada as a passenger on a flight who are in possession of any visa required to enter the country of destination;
- individuals carrying out official duties as a member of the armed forces of a country that is a designated state for the purposes of the Visiting Forces Act;
- study or work permit holders re-entering Canada following a visit solely to the United States or St. Pierre and Miquelon; and
- Her Majesty in right of Canada and any member of the Royal Family.
Individuals who are not citizens of a visa-exempt country must obtain a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) before travelling to Canada. The TRV is a document issued by a Canadian Immigration Visa Office, showing that the holder has satisfied the requirements for admission to Canada as a visitor. In almost all cases, TRVs are granted for multiple entry, meaning that the bearer can leave and re-enter Canada on the same visa. Extensions may be applied for from within Canada.
How can future visitors to Canada determine what they need to do?
A new, easy-to-use tool has been developed by the team at CanadaVisa.com. The free and exclusive Visiting Canada Tool allows users to get information about the steps they need to take in order to make a smooth entry to Canada.
By answering a few basic questions about their country of citizenship, status in the United States (if applicable), and the intended method of transport that will be used to enter Canada, users are provided with a detailed explanation relating to their particular situation. Moreover, users are provided with additional resources, such as contact details for applicable legal services, on the page that explains the next steps. It takes less than one minute to complete the questionnaire.
To use the Visiting Canada Tool and determine what you need to do to visit Canada, click here.
If you have any questions or concerns about the process of obtaining an eTA and gaining entry to Canada, please send a detailed email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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