Regardless of whether one is traveling to Canada for business or as a tourist, overseas travellers will need to make sure that they are aware of the new Electronic Travel Authorization, also known as eTA, requirement.
This requirement, launched on March 15, 2016, will need visa-exempt foreign travellers to have an eTA, irrespective of whether they are flying to or transiting through Canada.
The eTA is like a pre-travel screening process which is completed online. When a traveller obtains it, the eTA serves as an entry authorization and is automatically linked electronically to that individual’s passport.
The Canadian government has launched it in accordance with the Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness Action Plan – a pact between Canada and the United States since February 2011. The idea was to create a common approach in order to screen visa-exempt foreign nationals for threats before they arrive within the North American boundary. The US has incorporated a similar programme since 2008.
The eTA is, however, not required by foreign travellers entering Canadian borders by land or sea. It is required by citizens of the Australia, Great Britain, Japan France, Ireland, Sweden, Spain, Switzerland and Republic of Korea. US citizens are exempted from possessing an eTA, besides permanent residents of Canada carrying their permanent resident card with them. On the other hand, permanent residents of US do need to have an eTA.
Other groups of people exempt from this requirement include individuals on a flight having an unscheduled stop in Canada owing to emergency or some unforeseen situation, crew members of certain transportation groups, diplomats, and armed forces personnel belonging to certain chosen countries.
The eTA can be obtained by completing an online application, which is available on the website of the Citizenship and Immigration of Canada. Once approved, it is valid for a period of five years or till the time the passport linked to it expires.
Indians travelling through or to Canada need to take cognizance of this important development in order to be adequately informed and prepared during their travels.