Most foreign nationals who want to visit Canada require a valid visitor visa to enter the country. However, citizens of some countries are visa exempt. In 2016, Canada introduced electronic travel authorizations (eTA) as a new entry requirement for visa exempt foreign nationals travelling to or through Canada by air. Most foreign nationals who are exempt from requiring a Canadian visitor visa require an eTA if they are travelling to or transiting through Canada by air. A notable exception to the eTA requirement is U.S. citizens, who can continue to travel to Canada using their valid U.S. passport.
U.S. citizens are exempt from the eTA requirement. U.S. citizens can enter Canada on their valid U.S. passport, whether they are travelling by air, land, or sea. Lawful permanent residents of the United States, or Green Card holders, are visa exempt regardless of their country of citizenship. However, when travelling to Canada by air, they require an eTA, a valid Green Card, and a valid passport. Individuals with dual Canadian American citizenship can enter Canada while travelling on either their Canadian or American passport. Individuals with dual citizenship with any country other than the United States are required to use their Canadian passport when they travel to Canada by air. There are some exceptional cases in which travellers may not be required to obtain an eTA. Such cases include:
- French citizens who live in Saint Pierre and Miquelon and are flying directly to Canada from St. Pierre and Miquelon;
- Diplomats accredited by the Government of Canada, and;
- Foreign nationals who transit through a Canadian airport under the Transit Without Visa or China Transit programs.
To apply for an eTA, you will need internet access and your personal information such as address and passport. A form must be completed online and pay a $7 government fee by credit card. If approved, the eTA will remain valid for five years or until your passport expires, whichever comes first. If you have more than one passport, you must travel with the passport that your eTA is linked to. Approval time ranges between minutes and days, so it is best to apply before travelling.