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13 more countries now eligible for visa- free travel to Canada

If you're thinking of traveling to Canada this summer, you must have your travel documents in place. For citizens of many countries, this means their passport and a Canadian visa. However, on June 6, 2023, passport holders of 13 countries could celebrate, as Canada announced the expansion of its electronic travel authorization (eTA) program to include them.



The result of this expansion is that eligible passport holders of these countries can now travel to Canada without a visa, if they currently hold a US non-immigrant visa, or, if they have held a Canadian visa in the last 10 years. These countries are Antigua and Barbuda, Costa Rica, Uruguay, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Morocco, Panama, St. Kitts and Nevis, Trinidad and Tobago, Phillipines, Argentina, Seychelles, St. Lucia and Thailand.



What is an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA)?

The Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) is a mandatory entry requirement for visa-exempt foreign nationals traveling to Canada by air. This electronic authorization is directly linked to the traveler's passport and is valid for up to five years, or until the passport expires, whichever comes first. It allows multiple entries into Canada for short stays, typically up to six months per visit. It is crucial to note that an eTA is not required for travel within Canada.



Eligibility requirements for an eTA:

The eTA requirement varies depending on the type of traveler. There are four different types of travelers:

1. Travelers who need an eTA:

  • Visa-exempt foreign nationals must obtain an eTA when flying to or transiting through a Canadian airport. However, if they arrive in Canada by car, bus, train, or boat, including cruise ships, an eTA is not necessary.



2. Travelers who may be eligible to apply for an eTA:

  • Citizens from select visa-required countries may be eligible to apply for an eTA instead of a traditional visa when traveling to Canada by air. However, if they enter Canada by car, bus, train, or boat, they must possess a visitor visa.


3. Travelers who cannot apply for an eTA and need other identification:

  • Canadian citizens, including dual citizens, must possess a valid Canadian passport for travel. American-Canadians can use either a valid Canadian or U.S. passport.

  • Canadian permanent residents require a valid permanent resident card or permanent resident travel document.



4. Travelers exempt from the eTA requirement:

  • U.S. citizens are exempt from the eTA requirement but must carry proper identification, such as a valid U.S. passport.

  • Lawful permanent residents of the United States, with valid status, are also exempt from the eTA requirement. They must carry official proof of status and a valid passport from their country of nationality.



Most applicants receive eTA approval within minutes via email. However, in some cases, additional processing time may be required should additional supporting documents be requested. Travelers are therefore advised to first obtain their eTA before booking their flight to Canada.



Important Considerations:

While applying for an eTA, it is essential to avoid common mistakes that may hinder your travel plans. The most important detail to double-check is the accuracy of your passport number. Incorrectly entering the passport number on the eTA form can result in complications when flying to Canada.



The advantages of Visa- free travel:

The expansion of the eTA program brings several advantages for both travelers and Canada. It simplifies the travel process, making it faster, easier, and more affordable for thousands of visitors. By facilitating visa-free air travel, Canada expects to witness a boost in tourism, international business, and travel-related economic benefits. Strengthening bonds with these 13 countries while ensuring the safety of Canadian citizens remains a priority.



Anticipated increase in tourism:

Canada anticipates an increase of 200,000 visitors from the 13 newly included countries by 2024. The expectationis that this influx of visitors will cause an additional $160 million increase in tourism revenue within a decade. This expansion aligns with Canada's Indo-Pacific Strategy, showcasing the nation's commitment to engaging with the region and fostering stronger ties.



If you need help applying for an eTA, contact Yanique Russell Law by scheduling a consultation here.



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