Planning on traveling to Canada? Don’t leave home without an eTA

Foreign nationals who come to Canada will require an eTA, or they may not be able to board their flight. iStock.
Foreign nationals who come to Canada will require an eTA, or they may not be able to board their flight. iStock.

Unless you’re the Queen of England, an American citizen or you hold a valid Canadian visa, you will soon need an Electronic Travel Authorization if you are a foreign national who is traveling to or through Canada.

Starting on March 15, 2016, foreign nationals who come to Canada or transit through our country will have to apply for an eTA prior to their arrival, or they may not be able to board their flight.

Only visa-exempt foreign nationals are expected to apply for an eTA before they come to or fly through Canada. However, Canadian citizens and permanent residents are not eligible to apply for an eTA, meaning they have to have a valid Canadian passport or a valid permanent resident card.

So, how do you apply for an eTA? Fill out an application, put in the information required, pay the fee $7 fee with a credit card and voila you’re ready to come to Canada.

If you forget to apply for an eTA however, you’re in luck. The Canadian government has decided to give travellers a six month grace period but you have to make sure you meet all other requirements.

The Canadian government made the eTA a requirement because it wanted to sync its entry requirements with those of the United States to strengthen borders and enhance security.

Needless to say, this new travel requirement has raised the hackles of some dual citizens as well as civil liberty groups.

Dual citizens are angry about not being able to apply for a relatively cheap eTA versus having to get an expensive Canadian passport, and civil liberty groups are worried that the eTA will make it a lot harder for refugees to come to Canada to make a claim.

Whatever the complaints may be, you would be well advised to do as the MasterCard commercial says and “don’t leave home without it.”
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