Canada: Leniency period extended for Electronic Travel Authorization

Canadian authorities have extended the leniency period for the Electronic Travel Authorization requirement.

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What does the change mean? Canada was expected to require an eTA for visa-waived nationals, excluding U.S. citizens, beginning Sept. 30. The extended leniency period will allow visa-waived nationals to continue traveling to Canada without an eTA through Nov. 9.

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

Background: The extension of the leniency period Tuesday marks the second time Canadian officials have pushed back the eTA deadline after the program was originally scheduled to become mandatory in March.

“In consultation with airline partners, we’re taking further steps to minimize any travel disruptions,” John McCallum, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship said in a statement Tuesday. “We are extending the leniency period and doing another major information blitz in Canada and abroad to encourage affected travellers, including dual Canadian citizens, to plan ahead and get the necessary travel documents before they book a flight to Canada.”

Visa-waived nationals may continue applying for eTAs, even though they will not be required until Nov. 10. Visa required nationals must obtain a visa to travel to Canada, not an eTA. Canadian citizens, including dual citizens, must have a valid Canadian passport in order to board a flight for Canada or will face the possibility of significant travel delays.

BAL Analysis: While the mandatory use of eTAs has been postponed, visa-waived nationals planning travel to Canada are nevertheless 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 through Nov. 9.

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

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