What a traveler needs to enter Canada depends on a number of factors including the traveler’s nationality, means of transport, and the reason and duration of the trip.
Due to the covid-19 pandemic, the Canadian government has imposed restrictions on the entry of foreign nationals, effectively suspending the eTA program: entry into Canada is allowed only to Canadian citizens and permanent residents, as well as their close family members (common-law spouse or partner; minor children; parents). It is good to inquire about the status of these restrictions before planning any trip to Canada.
All you need to go to Canada
Citizens of some states, can do without a visa if they enter Canadian territory by plane as long as their stay on the same territory does not exceed six months: in this case, they are simply required a valid passport and the eTA Canada (which is much simpler and less expensive to obtain than a real visa).
You can apply for an eTA if you want to go to Canada for vacation, for study or work reasons (with some exceptions that we will see), to visit family or friends, and as a transit to another final destination.
Minors must also have their own eTA.
The Canadian and US citizen do not need the eTA and the same applies to those entering Canadian territory by means other than air (e.g. car, train, cruise ship).
One document that you do not have to have to enter Canada, but that could certainly facilitate your entry is the invitation letter which is exclusively about business travel.
You may, in fact, happen to be selected by an agent of the CBSA (Canada Border Service Agency) for a sample check in which case having an invitation letter with you from your business partner could save you a lot of time.
It is recommended that the letter include: your complete information, that of your employer and that of your business partner, the address and website of the company you need to visit, the purpose and duration of the visit, the relationship between your employer and the business partner, where you will reside during your stay on Canadian territory.
What is an eTA Canada?
The eTA Canada (Electronic Travel Authorization) is an entry requirement for foreigners flying to Canada if they are visa-free.
Each request is evaluated by the Canadian Government’s Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship and, in the absence of reasons for concern for national security, is promptly approved.
At check-in, the airline checks that your passport is associated with an eTA.
As we have seen, you can apply for an eTA, instead of a work permit, for a business trip, but with some limitations.
The business traveler who has entered Canadian territory with eTA is only allowed to carry out certain activities including: meeting a customer or supplier, attending a trade show or conference, organizing an event, buying or selling a product.
Only the journalist, the referee, the athlete, the coach, the speaker (if the event does not last more than five days), the university professor (exclusively to examine a project or research) and the company trainer (for training at the Canadian branch of the company where he is employed) can exercise their profession even beyond those specific activities.
You are not allowed to use eTA to do manual or physical work unless this work is done at a university or management level (in which case you are only allowed to do it once for up to 15 days within a six-month period or 30 days within a year).
You can apply for an eTA, instead of a Study Permit, for a study trip but only if your study program does not exceed six months.
How to apply for eTA Canada
The procedure for requesting and obtaining the eTA is entirely digital, simple, fast, and cheap, especially by comparing it with the visa.
The first step is to fill out the eTA form for Canada – you can do it on your computer, tablet, or smartphone.
When you have completed the form, you are asked to pay € 19.95 for each passenger: to pay, you can use Visa, Mastercard, Nexi, American Express, Postepay, and Paypal (payment is absolutely safe).
The average approval time for eTA Canada is three days with a maximum of five days (a more in-depth sample check may occur, which leads to a lengthening of the times); if you have an urgent need to travel to Canada, we recommend that you submit an urgent request.
The average time to approve urgent requests is only 18 minutes. The cost of urgent requests is an additional € 37.45 on request.
Once your eTA has been approved, you will receive an email and a confirmation text message: at this point, you can already check in your flight to Canada.
You do not need to print this confirmation: in fact, airline agents can see if you have an eTA simply from your passport number.
How long does the eTA Canada last
ETA Canada has a duration of five years starting from its approval.
Even if the eTA program is, in fact, temporarily suspended due to the Covid 19 pandemic, nothing prevents you from already applying for an eTA precisely by virtue of its five-year duration.
During the five years, you can make as many trips to Canada as you want as long as each does not exceed the duration of six months and provided, of course, they fall within the cases of visa exemption (we have seen that, for example, only certain trips of business is).
Guide to filling in eTA Canada
You can fill out the Canada eTA form not only for yourself but also for another traveler (e.g. your child); It is very important that you have your passport number and that of all other passengers for which you are applying for an eTA available at the time of filling out.
Filling out the eTA application is very simple and fast (generally it takes about ten minutes per traveler) and it is not necessary to know a foreign language since the form is in English (the traveler can choose his own language).
The Canada eTA form includes these parts:
- contact details;
- travel data;
- passport data, general information;
- information about the employer;
- eligibility questions;
- declaration of consent.
The upper part of the form concerns the contact details, yours or of the traveler (or travelers if there are more than one) for whom you are completing the form: it is not necessary that all travelers live at the same address, but they must live in the same country.
As for the data concerning the trip, you do not have to indicate the purpose of the trip, but you must provide the date of arrival (which can be indicated if you have not yet booked).
Always be very careful when entering your passport (or passport) details: as we have seen, the airline agent is able to see if you have an eTA based on your passport number and, therefore, may not allow you to leave if you have written the number wrong.
In the section relating to general data, you must indicate the marital status and any second citizenship of the traveler; you must also clarify whether the traveler has ever resided in Canada or has ever been a citizen of it.
The part concerning the information on the employer must be completed only in the case of adult travelers.
The eligibility questions are used to verify whether the traveler may pose a security risk: if you answer “Yes” to one of the questions, you cannot apply for an eTA but you can always try a visa.
The part at the bottom of the form is for your statement of consent.