New entry requirements to Canada are now in effect

What you need to know about eTAs or Electronic Travel Authorization

By Sera Madrigrano

The leniency period that allowed travellers to board their flight to Canada without an electronic travel authorization, visa or valid Canadian passport ended in Nov. 2016.

The leniency period that allowed travellers to board their flight to Canada without an electronic travel authorization, visa or valid Canadian passport ended in Nov. 2016.

As of this past November, all returning Canadian citizens will need a valid Canadian passport to board their flight to Canada. A valid Canadian passport is the only reliable and universally accepted travel document. It provides proof that you are a citizen and have the right to enter Canada without being subjected to immigration screening. Travellers should ensure that the expiry date of the passport is well beyond their planned return date. Canadian citizens will not need an electronic travel authorization, or eTA; however, many other travellers will.

Dual Canadian citizens used to returning to or transiting through Canada by air with their non-Canadian passport are no longer able to do so. You will now need a valid Canadian passport to board your flight. If your country needs you to enter and exit their country using a passport issued by its government, you will now need to carry both passports when you travel, as you will need a valid Canadian passport to board your flight back to Canada.

As always, if you are a permanent resident of Canada and a citizen of a visa-exempt country, you need to travel with your Canadian permanent resident (PR) card or permanent resident travel document when flying to Canada. Otherwise, you may not be able to board your flight to Canada. You do not require an eTA.

If you have a valid Canadian Refugee Travel document, you are exempt from both the visa and eTA requirements.

Most other travellers need a valid entry document such as an electronic travel authorization or a visa to visit Canada. This will depend on your citizenship or your situation. Visa-exempt foreign nationals need an eTA to fly to or transit through Canada. A visa-exempt foreign national is a person who is not a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident, and who does not normally need a visa to enter Canada. Travellers exempt from the eTA requirement include U.S. citizens and those with a valid Canadian visa, Canadian citizens, including dual citizens, and Canadian permanent residents. American citizens, including American-Canadian citizens, must carry proper identification and meet the basic requirements to enter Canada. You do not need a Canadian passport, a Canadian visa or an eTA to enter Canada if you are travelling with a valid U.S. passport.

What is an eTA?

An eTA is an entry requirement for visa-exempt foreign nationals travelling to or transiting through Canada by air. This electronic document allows Canada to screen foreigners for their admissibility to enter Canada.

Travellers that require an eTA will now need to apply for it before booking their flight to Canada. All eTA-required travellers, regardless of their age, will need an eTA when they fly to Canada. If you decide to travel to Canada while your application is still being assessed, you may experience delays or be prevented from entering the country. If your application was refused, you should not plan or undertake any travel to Canada.

Easy application format

You can apply for an eTA using any device with an internet connection, including a mobile phone. It takes just a few minutes to complete the form. All you need to apply is a passport, a credit card and an email address.  You cannot use debit.

In most cases, the eTA will be granted within minutes of applying and will be electronically linked to your passport. However, some applications can take several days to process. Once approved, an eTA is valid for five years, or until your passport expires, whichever comes first. You can make multiple visits to Canada with a valid eTA.

The eTA application form is only available in English and French; however, to assist with eTA applications, descriptions of each field in the form are available in several languages, visit cic.gc.ca/english/visit/eta-start.asp for more information.

Transport companies, such as airlines, must make sure all travellers have proper, valid travel documents. If you do not have the proper documents, you may be delayed or unable to board the plane.

To find out what else you may need to know before you come to Canada, see Arriving in Canada at travel.gc.ca.

Fake websites

The Government of Canada website is the official place to apply for an eTA.

Travellers who wish to apply for an eTA are advised to be cautious in all dealings with companies that claim to offer help in getting an eTA. These companies are NOT operating on behalf of the Government of Canada. Many have established websites that charge a fee to provide information and submit eTA applications.

Information gathered from the government of Canada website canada.ca.