As of November 10th 2016, visa-exempt foreign nationals who fly to or transit through Canada will require an Electronic Travel Authorization, or “ETA”. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada introduced the new ETA requirement in March 2016. Up until November 9th 2016, travelers without an ETC can still board their flight as long as they have a valid travel documents. As of November 10th an ETA will be mandatory for some travelers to Canada. The Electronic Travel Authorization is electronically liked to your passport. It is valid for five years, or until the expiry date of your passport, whichever comes first.
Who Needs an ETA?
With the exception of United States citizens, all foreign nationals from visa-exempt countries will now require an ETA when travelling to Canada by air. Note that an ETA is only required for foreign nationals who are flying to Canada. If you are entering by land or sea, you do not require this authorization. You can view the full list of visa-exempt countries on the IRCC website.
Applying for an ETA
You should apply for an ETA online through the IRCC website prior to boarding your flight. The application fee is $7.00 CAD. You will need a credit card, valid email address and valid passport to complete the application.
Most applicants receive an approval by email within minutes of applying. However, if you have a criminal record, a serious medical condition, or a complicated immigration record, your ETA application could be delayed or even refused. If this applies to you, you may be asked to upload additional documents in support of your application, and processing will be delayed. If your application is refused, you may require a Temporary Resident Permit in order to enter Canada. Consult an immigration lawyer who can advise you on your admissibility.
Once your ETA is approved, you do not need to apply again for five years, or until you obtain a new passport. You will need to present the passport your ETA is linked to ever time you board a flight to Canada.
Canadian Dual Citizens and Permanent Residents
If you are a dual citizen of both Canada and a visa-exempt country, you are not eligible to apply for an ETA on your non-Canadian passport. As of November 10th dual citizens will require proof of Canadian citizenship in order to travel to Canada by air. Proof of citizenship can include a valid Canadian passport, temporary Canadian passport, or emergency travel document. Note that this does not apply to dual American and Canadian citizens, who may still enter Canada with a valid U.S. passport and proper identification.
If you are a Permanent Resident of Canada, you cannot apply for an ETA. If you are returning to Canada by air as a Permanent Resident, you will be asked to provide your Permanent Resident card or permanent resident travel document.