In a recent bulletin, we advised readers that starting March 15, 2016, visa-exempt foreign nationals who fly to or transit through Canada are expected to have an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) before they travel to Canada by air. However, from March 15, 2016 until the fall of 2016, travellers who do not have an eTA will be allowed to board their flight to Canada as long as they have appropriate travel documents, such as a valid passport. During this period of leniency, border services officers can allow travellers arriving to Canada without an eTA into the country as long as they meet the other requirements to enter Canada.

Despite the period of leniency, visa-exempt foreign nationals are strongly encouraged to apply for and obtain an eTA before boarding a flight bound for Canada. Entry to Canada without an eTA during the period of leniency is at the discretion of the border services officer. It is also worth noting than an eTA does not guarantee entry into Canada. As always that determination is left to the examining border service officer at the port of entry.

A list of visa-exempt countries whose citizens require an eTA is located at this link on the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website. A list of persons who are exempt from the eTA is located at this link on the IRCC website. Notably, citizens of the United States, dual citizens, Canadian permanent residents, and travelers with a valid Canadian study permit or work permit obtained on or after August 1, 2015 do not require an eTA.

It is also worth noting that visa-exempt foreign nationals who submit an application for a Canadian work permit or a Canadian study permit will automatically be considered for an eTA. Such persons are not required to file an application for an eTA separate and apart for their applications for either a Canadian work permit or a Canadian study permit.

An eTA is valid for five years from the day on which it is issued or until the traveller's passport (or other travel document) expires, whichever comes first. An eTA may be cancelled by an appropriate officer sooner if the officer determines that the traveller is inadmissible to Canada.

Applying for an eTA is a simple online process that takes just a few minutes. An applicant must have a valid passport or accepted travel document, credit card, and email address. To confirm the requirements and to apply for an eTA, a traveler can use the link on the IRCC website.

Travellers can only apply for one eTA at a time. For example, for a family of three people, travellers will need to complete and submit the online application form and pay the $7.00 processing fee three times (once for each traveler).