Canada has introduced visa-free travel for travellers from 13 new countries, including five in the Caribbean.
Immigration Minister Sean Fraser on Tuesday opened the countries to the Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) program.
To qualify, travellers from the 13 countries must have either held a Canadian visa in the last 10 years or who currently hold a valid United States non-immigrant visa when travelling to Canada by air.
The 13 countries are:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- Costa Rica
- St. Kitts and Nevis
- St. Lucia
- St. Vincent and the Grenadines
- Trinidad and Tobago
The decision allows travellers from the countries to visit Canada for up to six months for either business or leisure without needing a visa.
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It will also divert thousands of applications from Canada’s visa caseload. Canada is currently battling a huge backload of Temporary Resident Visa applications.
Those from the 13 countries who already have a valid visa can continue to use it to travel to Canada. Those not eligible, or who are travelling by transport other than air, will still need a visit visa.
“This expansion not only enhances convenience for travellers, it will also increase travel, tourism and economic benefits, as well as strengthen global bonds with these 13 countries,” Fraser said.
What is an Electronic Travel Authorization?
Foreign nationals from visa-exempt countries arriving in Canada by air are required to obtain an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) prior to their trip. This is a requirement whether they want to visit the country or only to pass through in transit.
Do I need an Electronic Travel Authorization?
You need an eTA if you are travelling to Canada by air from a visa-exempt country.
The following are exempt from requiring an eTA:
- Those who have already obtained a valid visa to enter Canada.
- Anyone entering by land or sea.
- Armed Forces visiting Canada on official duty.
- Flight crew, civil aviation inspectors, accident investigators.
- French citizens who live in and are travelling from St. Pierre and Miquelon.
- Persons entering from the United States or St. Pierre and Miquelon, while holding valid status in Canada (visitor, student or worker).
- Accredited diplomats.
- Canadian citizens and dual citizens (provided you are travelling on a Canadian passport)
- Canadian permanent residents (you need your PR card or point of entry documentation)
- US citizens and permanent residents.
How do I get an Electronic Travel Authorization?
You can apply for an eTA through the Canadian federal government website.
Before you apply, you will need:
- Valid passport
- Valid email address
- Credit card to pay the $7 fee
When should I apply for Electronic Travel Authorization?
The Canadian government advises you to apply as soon as you know your travel itinerary.
However, an eTA can be obtained at the last minute via a smartphone. All you need is an internet connection. The email authorization often only takes a few minutes to come through. However, some requests can take several days to process if supporting documents are requested.
There is no requirement to print an eTA. It is electronically linked to your passport or travel document.
How long is an Electronic Travel Authorization valid for?
An eTA is valid for five years or until your passport or travel document expires, whichever comes first.
There is no limit on the number of entries to Canada, as long as the eTA is valid.