What is the change? Canada’s electronic travel authorization program becomes mandatory in two weeks.

What does the change mean? Beginning March 15, visa-waived nationals traveling by air to Canada will not be allowed to board their flight without an electronic travel authorization (eTA). U.S. citizens are exempt.

  • Implementation time frame: March 15.
  • Visas/permits affected: Electronic travel authorization.
  • Who is affected: Nationals who are visa-waived, i.e. who are currently waived from having to obtain a visitor visa (“temporary resident visa”) to Canada must obtain an eTA.
  • Impact on processing times: Travelers apply online and should receive their eTAs the same day, but they should not wait until the last minute, taking into consideration possible delays or technical difficulties.
  • Business impact: Business travelers will benefit as the eTA is valid for five years and reduces repeat screening procedures at every entry.
  • Next steps: All affected travelers should apply for their eTA immediately.

Background: The eTA system is currently available to visa-waived nationals and becomes mandatory March 15. Modeled after the U.S.’s Electronic System for Travel Authorization, travelers are pre-screened through an online application and issued an electronic travel authorization.

The eTA is mandatory for visa-waived nationals, except U.S. citizens and other designated categories. U.S. green card holders will be required to have an eTA if flying to Canada. The eTA only applies to air travelers, not to those entering Canada by land or sea. The full list of nationals requiring an eTA and travelers who are exempt is published here.

BAL Analysis: Frequent travelers to Canada and those planning air travel on or after March 15 should apply for their eTA immediately.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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