Canada has mandated registration in a new electronic travel authorization program (“eTA”) for many individuals who do not require visas to travel to Canada. Introduced in August 2015, the program becomes mandatory for many visa-exempt individuals traveling to Canada by air on or after March 15, 2016. Individuals traveling to Canada by land or sea are exempt from registering. Citizens of the United States are exempt from the eTA system regardless of whether they travel to Canada by air, land, or sea. 

Travelers Affected

Citizens of EU countries, US permanent residents, i.e. “green card” holders, and citizens of select other countries including Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Chile, Australia, and New Zealand, are amongst those affected by the new regulations. If traveling to Canada by air, citizens of these countries and/or US permanent residents will need to register with eTA before traveling. This is particularly important for our clients to keep in mind if flying to Canada to renew a US nonimmigrant visa. The complete list of affected nationalities can be found here.

Exempt Travelers

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) also published a complete list of those exempt from registering with the new eTA system, which includes US citizens no matter what the mode of transport. In case you are not a US citizen, but happen to be a member of the British royal family, “Her Majesty the Queen of Canada and any member of the Royal Family” are exempt from registering. Many individuals with valid US visas merely transiting through Canada are also exempt.

Applying for eTA

CIC is accepting applications for eTA. Applicants need a valid passport (with a few exceptions), a credit card, and a valid email address. Applications cost 7 CAD (Canadian dollars) and are valid for five years once approved. The application is done online here, via the CIC website. Additional information and instructions are available in ten different languages.