Photo: Jeff Nelson.
Travelers flying to Canada starting Sept. 30 will experience a raft of new documentation requirements depending on their citizenship.
The rules are part of Canada’s Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA), established in 2011 to facilitate travel between the U.S. and Canada. A result of the eTA was an effort to more closely scrutinize foreign nationals from visa-exempt countries.
Up until the eTA, some countries authorized citizens to travel to Canada with only a passport, and without having to obtain a visa. As a result, foreigners from these countries were not subject to any screening until they arrived at an airport in Canada.
These foreigners will now have to obtain an eTA in their passport before they can board a plane flying to Canada. There is a (C)$7 application fee for the eTA, which is valid for up to five years. A traveler’s application can be rejected for a number of reasons, including certain prior criminal convictions, some serious medical conditions, past immigration refusals, or other security concerns.
U.S. citizens and travelers with a valid Canadian visa are exempt from the rules.
Beginning Sept. 30, Canadian citizens will no longer be allowed to board a flight to Canada using their foreign passport in combination with a citizenship card or a provincial driver’s license to confirm Canadian citizenship.
“A valid Canadian passport is the only reliable and universally accepted travel document that provides proof that you are a citizen and have the right to enter Canada without being subjected to immigration screening,” the Canadian government says, also reminding dual citizens that they ensure their passport doesn’t expire until “well beyond your planned return date.”
Canadians can renew their Canadian passport if their current passport is valid or expired for no more than one year, reflects the same name, sex, date of birth and place of birth that you would like to appear on your new passport, was issued to be valid for 5 or 10 years, has not been reported lost or stolen, and was issued when the traveler was at least 16 years of age.
In addition, permanent residents of Canada are required to obtain a valid Permanent Resident Card, or a Travel Document, as well as their passport, in order to board a plane to Canada.
Travel industry observers have been concerned this year that the implementation of the eTA has not been communicated broadly enough, and that as a result, many foreign nationals will find their travel plans to Canada are disrupted.
An eTA can be applied for online through Canada’s Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s website. Travelers denied an eTA because they are found to be inadmissible may be able to apply for a Temporary Resident Permit in order to enter Canada.
Travel agents can help clients determine what kind of travel documents are required by the eTA by visiting http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/visas.asp.