What is the change? Canada’s Electronic Travel Authorization system for visa-waived nationals who fly to Canada will become mandatory March 15.

What does the change mean? Visa-waived nationals are strongly encouraged to apply before the system becomes mandatory to avoid any unexpected delays in the application process. Visa-waived nationals traveling to Canada by air on or after March 15 must have an eTA before boarding their flight. U.S. citizens are exempt and will be able to enter Canada with proof of citizenship.

  • Implementation time frame: March 15.
  • Visas/permits affected: Electronic Travel Authorization.
  • Who is affected: Foreign nationals who are waived from having to obtain a visitor visa (“temporary resident visa”) and who plan to travel to Canada by air.
  • Impact on processing times: Travelers must apply online and may receive their eTA the same day.
  • Business impact: The system should streamline business travel as the eTA is valid for five years and reduces the need to undergo screening procedures at every entry.

Background: The eTA system will replace the visa-waiver system March 15. Foreigners who are currently visa-waived must apply online and be pre-screened before obtaining their electronic authorization.

The eTA only applies to air travelers, not to those entering Canada by land or sea. U.S. citizens and others are exempt from having to obtain an eTA, but U.S. permanent residents will be required to have an eTA if flying to Canada. The list of nationals requiring an eTA and the list of exempt categories may be viewed here.

BAL Analysis: Although visa-exempt nationals can continue to rely on visa-waived status until March 15, they should not wait until the last minute to apply for an eTA and are advised to apply as soon as possible.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in Canada. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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