Last Updated on June 22, 2017
June 22, 2017 – The Canada Border Services Agency is rolling out facial recognition across Canada’s major airports in a move it hopes will boost security and reduce waiting times.
The process started at Ottawa International Airport in spring 2017, and will continue for the rest of the year and through 2018 until all primary hubs are covered.
The technology is part of new self-service kiosks being installed by the CBSA. The move is part of an all-around system upgrade.
Facial recognition is already part of airports all over the U.S., using similar kiosks. The technology was developed by U.S. Homeland Security.
Canada’s federal government will hope the roll-out is smoother than the introduction of the Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA).
Despite several grace periods before the full adoption of the eTA in November 2016, the system was beset with problems with many turning up to airports without knowing they needed one.
A major part of the issue related to Canadian dual citizens, as it was made mandatory to travel on their Canadian passports to enter the country by air. Many of them only had the passport of their other country of citizenship.
The government introduced a special authorization that allowed dual citizens to fly on their non-Canadian passport. The authorization lasts for four days and can only be applied for if you are flying in the next 10 days.
Also linked to the problems was alack of clarity on exactly who needed an eTA, with reports over the Christmas period of Canadian permanent residents being turned away from certain airports.
Canada eTA 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.
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 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.
- 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 (provided you are travelling on a Canadian passport)
- 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: Brazilian, Romanian and Bulgarian Nationals
As of May 1, 2017, Brazilians, Romanians and Bulgarians who have held a Canada visa in the last 10 years, or currently hold a US visa, do not require a visa to travel to Canada by air.
Citizens of all three countries do need an eTA to travel to Canada by air.
Citizens of all three countries still require a Canada visa to cross the border by car, bus, train or boat.
Special Case: Mexican Nationals
Mexicans were granted the right to travel to Canada without a visa as of December 1, 2016. They therefore require an eTA to travel by air.
Mexicans with a visa still valid from before December 1, 2016 do not require an eTA.
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 your 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.
Interested employers: Kindly contact us here to receive further information.
Interested candidates: Find out whether you qualify to Canada by completing our free on-line evaluation. We will provide you with our evaluation within 1-2 business days.
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