Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) and What it Means to Visa Exempt Citizens Coming to (or through) Canada

Are you a citizen from a visa-exempt country?

Since September 30, 2016, obtaining an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) is mandatory for all visa-exempt citizens flying to or transiting through Canada. The eTA will act as a security measure for citizens from visa-exempt countries.

You need to be prepared and apply for an eTA prior to booking your flight to Canada.  Most applicants will receive the approval within minutes; however, some applications may take more time to process, and some applicants may be denied entry.  The requirements to enter Canada by land and sea have not changed. US citizens and travellers with a valid Canadian visa are exempt from obtaining an eTA.

It is most likely that the implementation of the eTA will catch many foreign nationals by surprise and might result in the disruption of their travel plans to Canada. Travellers won’t be informed that they require an eTA to board the airplane until they arrive at the airport (this happened with a lot of travellers bound for the US when the US visa waiver program was introduced several years ago).

An eTA application may be refused on the grounds of prior criminal issues, a serious medical condition, past immigration issues, or other potential security concerns.  Even a minor criminal issue that happened 20 years ago still remains an offence and may render an applicant inadmissible.

Plan your travel ahead of time to avoid any last-minute delays.  Contact us for assistance in order to avoid a surprise at the airport.

Also starting September 30, 2016, Canadian citizens who hold dual citizenship will need to enter Canada with their Canadian passport when travelling by air to Canada and will not be able to enter Canada using the passport of their second citizenship.  This is because Canadian citizens are not required to obtain an eTA and therefore are not in the position to obtain one for their other passports.

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