Planning to have friends or family from abroad visit Canada this spring and summer? If so, they need to know that effective March 15, 2016, they will need to obtain an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) along with their passport before they will be allowed to board their flight. This measure will apply to all non-U.S. foreign nationals from specified visa-exempt countries who are arriving by air and are either visiting Canada for up to six months or transiting through a Canadian airport to another country.
Generally, these are nations whose citizens do not ordinarily require visas to enter Canada, e.g., Britain, France, Germany, Australia, and most of the countries of eastern and central Europe and the Caribbean. U.S. citizens and residents of St. Pierre and Miquelon are exempted from this rule, although they will still have to show valid passports or other acceptable identification. Also exempted from this rule are citizens of countries that normally require visas—and that includes the rest of the world. Click the following link to see all the countries whose citizens will require eTAs for travel to Canada, and those who will continue to require visas: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/visas-all.asp#visa .
Holders of U.S. Green Cards (non-citizen permanent residents) will also require eTAs as well as passports.
The eTAs, which travellers can apply for online and cost $7 CAD, will be required for each individual traveller and are valid for up to five years or the life-term of the passport to which it’s linked. If the passport expires before the five years, a new eTA will be required. Application will require a valid passport, credit card, and email address.
The eTA program is similar to the ESTA plan instituted by the U.S. several years ago for citizens of visa-waiver countries, most of them in Europe, but also including Australia, Chile, Japan, and Taiwan. For a full list of the 38 U.S. visa-waiver countries, go to http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/visit/visa-waiver-program.html .
The Canadian Government advises all prospective visitors to apply well in advance of their trip (even before booking their flight), although most applications may be completed and granted within a few moments. It also advises applicants to have proper documentation when travelling with minors who are not their own children and to have adequate supplemental health insurance, since the government will not pay medical expenses for visitors.
Prospective Canadian hosts anticipating visits from foreign friends or family should also be aware that visitors’ health insurance, which is widely available from Canadian vendors, is best purchased well ahead of time with an effective date that coincides with the arrival date. Waiting to purchase insurance only after arrival is risky because there is normally a short waiting period, perhaps 48 hours, before coverage becomes effective. If the traveller is stricken with illness or has an accident during that waiting period, coverage is void. More information on the benefits and exclusions of Visitors to Canada travel insurance is available on this site.
Don’t let your visitors entertain the myth that Canada’s health care is free for everyone. A routine inpatient admission to a downtown Toronto hospital is going to cost well over $5,000 per day for the uninsured. And cash or credit card payment will be expected on the spot. Get into intensive care, and you will see why Canada’s health care costs rank within the top six most expensive in the world…
See that your visitors are prepared.