Canada has made a surprising change to its travel rules, the National Law Review reports. Starting in March of next year, people who travel to Canada who are currently visa-exempt will need to first gain approval through a new electronic travel authorization system (ETA). This affects US citizens who are traveling to Canada, but not until March 15 of next year. Currently, US citizens don’t need a visa to visit Canada, but we are required to bring a valid passport. This new system will essentially mean that Americans do need an electronic visa starting next year.
Electronic travel authorization systems are becoming more popular around the world. The US uses one for visa exempt visitors to the United States. Our system is called the Electronic System for Travel Authorization, and it is essentially a way to pre-screen visitors without requiring a complicated visa process.
Canada will be doing basically the same thing. People will need to pay a $7 Canadian processing fee in order to obtain an electronic travel authorization. Once obtained, that authorization will be valid for five years or until the applicant’s passport expires. The travel authorization can also be canceled by Canada if they so choose. In order to obtain a Canadian ETA, applicants will need to provide their name, date of birth, place of birth, gender, address, nationality, and their passport information.
This change will make it slightly more difficult for US citizens to visit Canada, but only slightly. We are very hopeful that the Canadian ETA system will be simple to use and effective at taking payments. Some countries’ ETA systems have the tendency to be buggy and unable to accept payments via credit card. We don’t see any reason why that should be the case with Canada’s new system.
It is a bit annoying that this extra step will be necessary for US citizens to visit Canada. Apparently, the goal of this extra step is to enhance safety and security at the Canadian border. We will provide you with new information as it becomes available. For now, it is expected that the Canadian ETA system will open up on August 1, 2015, but ETA pre-screening won’t be required until March 15, 2016.
If you have any questions about Canada visas — or visas anywhere else in the world – contact us today. The Swift team is available around the clock to answer your questions and help you obtain passports and visas as quickly as you need them.
Rob Lee is co-founder of Swift Passport and Visa Services. Originally from Michigan, Rob is an avid fisherman and SCUBA diver who enjoys adventure travel.