Canadian Law Group

Travelling to Canada? Be sure to carry the right documents

 Travelling to Canada

If you are NOT a Canadian citizen nor Permanent Resident of Canada, you are a “foreigner” for Canada and will generally need a permission from the Canadian Government (Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada, or “IRCC”) to enter the country. The permission can be either a Visitor Visa, Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) or a Transit Visa.

Which pre-authorization will you need? This depends on a variety of factors such as: which country issued your passport, how long you plan to stay, how will you be travelling to Canada (air, boat, car) and your purpose for visiting Canada.

Types of Permissions to Travel

 

eTA

Visitor Visa

Transit Visa

Work visa

Canadian Citizens

No

No

No

No

U.S. Citizens

No

No

No

Yes

U.S. Green Card holders

Yes, with a Valid Green Card and Passport

No

No

Yes

Other

Yes, if you are from a visa-exempt country and are flying into Canada

Yes, if you are from a visa required country and visiting Canada OR your transit through Canada is more than 48 hours

Yes, if you are from a visa required country and your transit through Canada is less than 48 hours

Yes

 

Apart from United States citizens, foreigners generally require either an eTA or a visa to travel to Canada. For nationals of countries which require an eTA, there are some exceptions to the rule when traveling to Canada by car or boat. Citizens of most Asian, African, Eastern European and Latin American countries require a visa to enter Canada, even if they are only passing through the country.

The purpose for your visit to or through Canada will determine what type of pre-authorization you need. If you are from a visa required country and you are transiting thorough Canada, you may need either a visitor visa or a transit visa depending on the length of your layover in Canada.

Transit Visa

If you have less than 48 hours between flights and you are just transiting, you will need a Transit Visa. A Transit Visa lets you travel through a Canadian airport if your flight is making a stop in Canada (for less than 48 hours) on its way to another country and you do not plan on leaving the airport. A Transit Visa is free and can be applied for online.

Visitor Visa (or Temporary Resident Visa)

If you have more than 48 hours between flights or if you decide to visit Canada during your layover, you need a Visitor Visa. The processing times for a Visitor Visa application vary by country and you may be required to do Biometrics, which adds further processing times to your visa application.

Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA)

If you are from a country which does not require a visa to enter Canada, AND you are travelling to Canada by air, you must get an eTA. If you are a US citizen and you are traveling to Canada by car, bus, train, or boat, you will generally NOT need to apply for an eTA or visa. Canadian citizens, dual citizens (Canada and another country), and Canadian permanent residents cannot apply for an eTA. There a select number of eTA exemptions, contact us to find out if any of these exceptions apply to you.

eTA application process

Application for an eTA is simple and you can usually get approved within minutes. However, sometimes applicants experience wait times up to a few days or longer for approval. Be prepared and apply before you book your flight to Canada and well in advance of your intended travel date. The issuance of an eTA can be further delayed if you have inadmissibility issues, such as a criminal record or high medical needs.   

The rules for the type of travel authorization you need differ greatly based on your country of citizenship and your purpose for travelling to Canada. If you are the citizen of multiple countries, the requirements will vary depending on which passport you choose to travel with.

To find out if you need a Visitor Visa, an eTA, or a Transit Visa to enter Canada, contact us at vmalka@ckrlaw.com