Visa exempt travellers need new electronic authorisation for Canada from March

by Ray Clancy on February 4, 2016

Officials in Canada have issued a reminder that from March 2016 visa-exempt foreign nationals who fly to or transit through Canada will need an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA).

There are exceptions including citizens of the United States and travellers with a valid visa, but those who will need an eTA are urged to make sure they know about the requirements and not to leave it until the last minute.

The eTA has been introduced to avoid people being turned back when they arrive in Canada as they are effectively screened before they arrive. In 2012/2013, the most up to date figures available, the total number of visa exempt foreign nationals who arrived in Canada and were deemed inadmissible for entry at air ports of entry was 7,055.

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“This resulted in significant expense, delay and inconvenience for these foreign nationals, other travellers, the airlines and the Canadian government. Reasons for refusal can include membership in terrorist organizations, espionage, participation in war crimes or crimes against humanity, international human rights violations, membership in organized crime groups, criminality, or issues endangering public health, such as tuberculosis,” said a spokesman for Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC).

Students and temporary workers from eTA required countries who received their student or work permit before August 2015 and intend to travel from and return to Canada by air will need an eTA. However, those who applied after that date do not need an eTA as it will have been automatically granted and linked electronically to their passport when the work permit was issued.

The eTA is electronically linked to a passport and is valid for five years or until a passport expires, whichever comes first. It can be applied for online and costs $7 and it will be obligatory from 15 March 2016.

“Most applicants can expect to get an email response within minutes of applying. You should get your eTA as soon as you begin to plan your trip to visit Canada,” said the CIC spokesman.

“Last minute applications can be made on any device with an internet connection, including mobile phones. Applying for an eTA is a simple online process. To apply you must have a valid passport, credit card, and email address,” the spokesman added.

The full list of nationalities that require an eTA and exemptions can be found on the CIC website and it includes most countries including the UK, Australia and France. CIC has indicated that ësoon after March 2016í citizens from Brazil, Bulgaria, Mexico and Romania may be eligible to apply for an eTA when travelling to Canada by air.

To be eligible for an eTA they would need to show that they have held a Canadian visa in the last 10 years or hold a valid US non-immigration visa.

The number of visa exempt foreign nationals travelling to Canada on a temporary basis per year is significantly larger than the number of visa required travellers. For example, visa exempt foreign nationals, excluding US citizens, represent approximately 74% of foreign nationals who arrive by air in Canada.

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