Thursday, 7 April 2016

Visitors to Canada Beware - You might need a "not-a-visa" eTA

Formerly, Brits, like my wife, travelling to Canada for a visit needed only their passport and no visa. That has changed, as from March 15, 2016 (with an interim grace period till the fall of this year) she and other foreign nationals, except US citizens, will need an Electronic Travel Authorization to enter Canada by air. The eTA is not formally a visa but it sure feels like one to my wife, since after the grace period, without it you don't get to board the plane.

Some key things facts I discovered digging through the website and phoning a Canadian consulate:
  • you can apply in advance, even before you make a booking or plan a trip
  • the eTA is good for five years, but ...
  • if you need to renew your passport before then, you need to buy ($7 now) a new eTA because the eTA is linked to your passport number
  • the eTA is stored in the Canadian government's vast databases so that you do not need any piece of paper to prove you bought one (of course, it's gonna be your problem if you say you bought one and may even have the printout but for some reason the database says no, you don't)
  • it supposedly takes "minutes" to apply online and receive an email confirmation i.e. make sure you know where your airport internet access is or your phone has access just in case
Welcome to the new world of travel to Canada!

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