Last Updated on April 6, 2017
January 9, 2017 – From foreign travellers to dual citizens and even Canada’s own border agents: It seems everyone could do with clear guidance on exactly who requires an electronic travel authorization (eTA).
The holiday period saw frequent stories of people not being able to travel because they were without an eTA.
A leniency period ended on November 10, 2016, after which all travellers from visa-exempt countries needed the authorization to enter Canada by air.
For more on the Electronic Travel Authorization, click here.
Perhaps the most concerning story was one couple being told they needed the document by the Canada Border Services Agency even though they were permanent residents, and had the documentation to prove it.
Others were tripped by the dual citizenship issue, which means those with two passports need their Canadian document to fly here, and cannot use their foreign passport with an eTA.
There is a temporary measure in place for dual citizens. Until January 31, 2017, dual citizens can apply for special authorization to travel on their non-Canadian passport.
This authorization lasts for four days and can only be applied for if you are flying in the next 10 days.
Special Authorization: Conditions
To apply for special authorization, you must:
- have a flight to Canada that leaves in less than 10 days,
- have a valid passport from a visa-exempt country,
- have previously received a certificate of Canadian citizenship, or
- held a Canadian passport in the past, or
- you were granted Canadian citizenship after having been a permanent resident of Canada.
You can apply for special authorization here.
Critics put the problems down to a lack of communication that meant it was often airline staff left to deliver the bad news to passengers who had never heard of the eTA.
The Tourism Industry of Canada says it is impossible to overcommunicate such a change, which potentially impacts the travel of millions of people all over the world.
The organisation says the federal government simply did not have a big enough budget for communication.
Do I need an Electronic Travel Authorization?
You need an eTA if you are travelling to Canada by air from a visa-exempt country. A full list of visa-exempt countries is available here.
The requirement came into effect as of March 15, 2016, although the Canadian government introduced a period of leniency until November 9, 2016.
Anyone requiring an eTA flying on November 10 or later will not be allowed to board the plane without one.
The following are exempt from requiring an eTA:
- Those who have already obtained a valid visa to enter Canada.
- Anyone entering by land or sea.
- Armed Forces visiting Canada on official duty.
- Students who have a valid Canadian study permit dated on or after August 1, 2015 (see below).
- Flight crew, civil aviation inspectors, accident investigators.
- Temporary Foreign Workers who have a valid Canadian work permit date on or after August 1, 2015.
- French citizens who live in and are travelling from St. Pierre and Miquelon.
- Persons entering from the United States or St. Pierre and Miquelon, while holding valid status in Canada.
- Accredited diplomats.
- Canadian citizens and dual citizens (you must travel on a Canadian passport, unless you have special authorization).
- Canadian permanent residents (you need your PR card or point of entry documentation)
- US citizens (US permanent residents, or green card holders, DO require an eTA when travelling by air).
Special Case: Mexican Nationals
Mexicans were recently granted the right to travel to Canada without a visa. This rule change was implemented from December 1. Therefore, the following applies:
- Mexican nationals required a visa to enter Canada until November 30, 2016;
- After November 30, Mexicans required an eTA;
- Mexicans with a visa still valid from before November 30 do not require an eTA.
Special Case: International Students
- If you received your study or work permit on or before July 31, 2015, you will need to apply for an eTA if you wish to enter or return to Canada by air.
- If you received your study or work permit on or after August 1, 2015, you were automatically issued an eTA with your study or work permit. No further action is required; however, please ensure that you travel to Canada using the same passport you used to apply for your study or work permit.
How do I get an Electronic Travel Authorization?
You can apply for an eTA through the Canadian federal government website.
Before you apply, you will need:
- Valid passport
- As a US, permanent resident, you can apply with:
- Valid US refugee travel document (I-571)
- Valid permit to re-enter the US (I-327)
- Credit card to pay the $7 fee
- Valid email address
To apply for an eTA click here.
When should I apply for an Electronic Travel Authorization?
The Canadian government advises you to apply as soon as you know you travel itinerary.
However, an eTA can be obtained at the last minute via a smartphone. All you need is an internet connection. The email authorization often only takes a few minutes to come through.
There is no requirement to print an eTA. It is electronically linked to your passport or travel document.
How long is an Electronic Travel Authorization valid for?
An eTA can be valid for five years, or until your passport or travel document expires.
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