The UK and Canada go back a long way in history sharing a strong, healthy relationship with the same language and similar culture, which might be a clear reason why almost 600,000 tourists from the UK get gravitated towards Canada year after year. Although the UK is one of the 55 countries that are visa-exempt, its citizens traveling to Canada are still required to apply online for an eTA(Electronic Travel Authorization) to enter the country, since March 2016. Luckily, it is quite straightforward and easy to obtain an eTA that remains valid for years, and through the following FAQs, we will attempt to elucidate the process.
What is Canada’s Visa-exemption History?
Canada has had a visa policy for several years that has exempted several countries from the requirement to apply for a visa before visiting the country. The country performs in-depth analysis into its visitors and cautiously studies the rates of visa-overstay, security issues, asylum seekers and other factors to decide upon the countries that can remain on the visa exempt list or not.
Which are the Visa-exempt Countries for Canada?
Citizens from the following 55 countries could travel to Canada visa-exempt before March 2016:
- British citizen
- British National (Overseas)
- British overseas citizen (re-admissible to the United Kingdom)
- British overseas territory citizen with citizenship through birth, descent, naturalization or registration in one of the British overseas territories of:
- The British Virgin Islands
- Cayman Islands
- Falkland Islands (Malvinas)
- Pitcairn Island
- Saint Helena
- Turks and Caicos Islands
- British Subject with a right of abode in the United Kingdom
- Brunei Darussalam
- Czech Republic
- Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China must have a passport issued by Hong Kong SAR.
- Israel must have an Israeli national passport
- Republic of Korea
- New Zealand
- Papua New Guinea
- San Marino
- Solomon Islands
- United Arab Emirates
- United States
- Vatican City State
What is an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA)?
An eTA or an Electronic Travel Authorization is official permission granted by the Canadian Government, for citizens from visa-exempt countries, to travel to Canada by air. This Travel Authorization is electronically linked to a traveler's passport. An eTA is valid for multiple entries up to five years(with each stay not exceeding beyond 6 months) or until the passport expiry date, whichever occurs first. The eTA program was brought in in 2016 to screen overseas travelers as a response to the upsurge in global terrorism.
What is the cost of a Canadian eTA?
The cost of an eTA is a nominal fee, and the government says most permissions will be granted within a few minutes of applying. Applicants will need to input biographic, passport, and other personal information via the website.
How long am I welcome in Canada as a visitor from the UK?
UK citizens can make multiple trips to Canada for five years with a valid eTA, with each stay not exceeding six months(180 days). If your passport expires before your eTA, you will need to apply for a new one for the new passport.
What would happen if I exceed my 6-month limit on a stay?
If you stay longer than 6 months on an eTA and your stay has not been extended by Citizenship and Immigration Canada, you will lose your travel authorization and not be able to use the eTA for future trips to Canada.
How do I apply for an eTA?
You can find the Canada eTA application by visiting the Canadian government website. The eTA application is a simple online process that takes around 10-15 minutes to complete. You will need your passport, contact, employment, travel details, and a valid debit or credit card to pay the eTA application fees. An approved eTA will be valid for up to five years, or the date of passport expiry, whichever comes first. Eligible applicants are advised to apply for an eTA a few weeks before their departure to Canada, looking at the occasional processing delays.
Who needs an eTA to travel to Canada?
The following travelers are required to apply for an eTA to travel to Canada:
- Visa exempt foreign nationals require to possess an eTA to fly to or transit through Canada. These foreigners do not need an eTA when visiting Canada by a boat, a cruise ship, a train, a bus, or a car. eTA is also applicable for children traveling from a Visa-exempt country by air to Canada.
- Permanent Residents of the United States (with a valid Passport and a valid Green Card) also require an eTA to fly to or transit through Canada.
- Citizens from Brazil, Bulgaria, and Romania who have been in possession of a Canadian visitor visa in the last 10 years, or presently hold a valid US non-immigrant visa and who wish to fly to or transit through Canada or visit Canada for a brief stay, tourist activity or business(for up to six months), could apply for an eTA. However, these visitors need a visitor-visa when entering Canada by boat, cruise ship, train, bus, or car.
What are the other requirements to Apply for an eTA?
The requirements to apply for a Canadian eTA are:
- You must belong to one of the above 3 categories(refer to the FAQ – Who needs an eTA to travel to Canada?).
- You are visiting Canada for tourism, business, medical or transit, and your trip is for 180 days or less.
- You are traveling by air.
- You have an e-passport that is machine readable.
- You must not have any criminal convictions or immigration violations.
- You must have ties to your home country such as employment, home, or financial instruments.
- You must be over 18 to apply for an eTA otherwise require a parent/guardian.
- You have to convince an immigration officer that you plan to return to your country after your visit to Canada.
Who is exempt from the eTA requirement to travel to Canada?
The following travelers are exempt from the eTA requirement to travel to Canada:
- Visitors with an authentic Canadian visa or the ones with a valid status in the Canadian province (e.g. that of a student, a visitor or a worker) who re-visit Canada after merely visiting the US or St. Pierre and Miquelon.
- Citizens of France who reside in St. Pierre and Miquelon and are traveling(by air) straight from St. Pierre and Miquelon to Canada.
- Foreigners who are flying to, or from, the US on an aircraft that halts in Canada only to refuel and who have all the valid requisite documents to enter the US, or were legitimately allowed entry into the US.
- Foreign tourists on an aircraft making an unscheduled halt in a Canadian airport.
- Foreign tourists who transit through Canada under the “Transit Without Visa Program” (TWOV) or “China Transit Program” (CTP).
- Accident Investigators, crew members of a flight, and inspectors of Civil Aviation, who would be working as long as in Canada.
- Armed Forces Representatives from a country designated under the “Visiting Forces Act” who come to Canada to accomplish official duties.
- Diplomats recognized and authorized by the Canadian government.
What are the possible eTA application outcomes?
The 3 possible outcomes of an eTA application are “Authorization Approved”, “Travel not Authorized”(in this case, you should contact your nearest Canadian embassy or consulate to apply for a regular visitor visa) and “Authorization Pending” (meaning that an additional review is required before a determination can be made).
What could be the reason for my eTA getting denied?
The following circumstances might bring about an eTA rejection:
- A previous visa denial
- A previous denial of entry to Canada
- Providing a passport number that was reported lost or stolen
- Having overstayed in Canada on a previous visit
- Connections with criminal or terrorist organizations
- Engaging in unauthorized work on a previous visit
- An immigration officer is not convinced of the reasons for your visit to Canada
Is my eTA still valid if my passport has expired/changed?
If you get a new passport, the eTA you received with your old passport is no longer valid. Any time a passport is changed, you must reapply for travel authorization using the eTA process with your new passport details. It is strongly advisable to make sure that your passport is valid for at least six months prior to your entry into Canada.
Finally, do British citizens need a visa to go to Canada?
Visitors belonging to the following categories do not need a visa to visit Canada, but still, need an eTA:
- British Citizens and British Overseas Citizens
A British citizen or a British overseas citizen who is re-admissible to the UK.
- Citizens of British Overseas Territories
A citizen of a British overseas territory whose citizenship is acquired by way of naturalization, registration, birth or descent in one of the British Overseas Territories of the Turks and Caicos Islands, Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Pitcairn, or St. Helena.
- An Overseas British National
Visitors in possession of a British National (Overseas) passport issued by the UK to those naturalized, registered or born in Hong Kong.
- British Subjects
Visitors in possession of a British Subject passport issued by the UK that comprises of the observation that the visitor has the right of abode in the UK.
Therefore, British Citizens must obtain an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) before traveling to Canada.