What is the change? Canadian authorities have announced that visa-waived nationals (excluding U.S. citizens) will be allowed to travel without an electronic travel authorization until Sept. 29, 2016.

What does the change mean? The initial eTA cutoff date was March 15. Canadian authorities announced in March that travelers would be able to board flights without an eTA “until fall 2016,” but did not provide a precise date for when the grace period would end.

  • Implementation time frame: Ongoing.
  • Visas/permits affected: Electronic Travel Authorization.
  • Who is affected: Visa-waived nationals traveling to Canada (excluding U.S. citizens).
  • Business impact: The grace period allows business travelers with urgent travel needs to travel to Canada without an eTA. In the long term, travelers will benefit from the eTA program because eTAs are valid for five years and reduce repeat screening procedures.

Background: The eTA program was modeled on the U.S.’s Electronic System for Travel Authorization and requires travelers to be prescreened before entering Canada. The program was expected to become mandatory March 15, but authorities announced in early March that they would continue allowing visa-waived nationals to travel without an eTA until the fall. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada has since clarified on its website that the grace period will last until Sept. 29, 2016.

BAL Analysis: Visa-waived nationals (excluding U.S. citizens) traveling to Canada by air are advised to obtain an eTA as soon as possible in order to avoid future delays. Those with urgent travel needs, however, will be able to travel to Canada without an eTA until Sept. 29, 2016.

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

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