New Canadian air travel scheme leniency period extended to November

by Ray Clancy on September 22, 2016

A leniency period for Canada’s new Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) scheme has been extended until 09 November, it has been announced.

The eTA was introduced in March for visa exempt foreign nationals travelling to Canada temporarily by air and was developed as part of an agreement with the United States to develop a common approach to pre-screening air travellers.

CanadaA six-month leniency period was put in place so that travellers who are unfamiliar with eTA could still board their flight to Canada and this was due to end on the 29 September.

This has now been extended, so eTA will not come fully into operation until 10 November when everyone arriving by air who does not need a visa to enter Canada must have an eTA. Canadian citizens and dual citizens will need a valid Canadian passport or they will experience delays while visa exempt travellers, except US citizens, will need the eTA.

The decision was taken when it was found that airlines and passengers are still not fully prepared for the new system and there was some confusion among travellers.

‘In consultation with airline partners, we’re taking further steps to minimize any travel disruptions,’ said John McCallum, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship.

‘We are extending the leniency period and doing another major information blitz in Canada and abroad to encourage affected travellers, including dual Canadian citizens, to plan ahead and get the necessary travel documents before they book a flight to Canada,’ he added.

Officials from Immigration Canada said that although eTA is a new requirement for travellers, applying for one is a simple online process that costs CAN$7.

‘It is best for travellers to apply for an eTA before booking a flight to Canada. As it can take time to get a Canadian passport, travellers should apply for one as soon as they can and plan travel accordingly,’ said a spokesman.

‘The eTA was implemented to improve the safety of Canadians by helping to identify those who are inadmissible and prevent them from travelling to Canada. They also help facilitate travellers’ entry into Canada, since they have already been pre-screened under the eTA process,’ he added.

Close to two million eTAs have been issued since the application went live in August 2015. The Government of Canada website, Canada.ca/eTA, is the only valid site where travellers can apply for an eTA.

An eTA is valid for five years or until the traveller’s passport expires, whichever comes first. Canadian citizens, including dual citizens, cannot apply for an eTA and will need a valid Canadian passport to board their flight, starting November 10, 2016. Travellers without a valid Canadian passport may experience delays.

Canadian permanent residents cannot apply for an eTA and, as usual, must show their valid permanent resident card when travelling to Canada.

US citizens are exempt from the eTA requirement, but US lawful permanent residents need an eTA and must present a valid US permanent resident card (Green Card) and a valid passport when they check-in for their flight to Canada.

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