If this is your first time traveling to Canada it is important to know some of the procedures you will encounter when you arrive at the airport. The first and most important consideration is applying for an electronic travel authorization (eTA) online before your trip. If you’re a citizen of a country that can visit Canada without a visa it is mandatory that you apply for an eTA from March 15, 2016 although you can already do so from August 1, 2016.
The first procedure after your eTA will be to fill out a Declaration Card. The Declaration Card is usually given to you when you check-in for your flight to Canada or onboard the plane. The form requires you to provide information about yourself, your recent travel and what items you are bringing with you. You should fill out the form before arriving in Canada and keep it next to your passport as you will be asked to show it when you get off the plane and before arriving at passport control.
The second step will be to procede to passport control or Canada Border Services Agency checkpoint. When you proceed to the desk an immigration officer will review your Declaration Card and ask you questions about your trip to Canada and what items you are bringing into the country. The immigration officer is interested to know whether you plan to visit Canada temporarily or stay without authorization and will ask you several questions about your employment, residence, etc. You should answer all questions truthfully. If the immigration officer is satisfied that you fulfill all requirements to enter Canada he/she will admit you into the country. If they require further information or further clarifications you will be directed to a secondary inspection area.
After you are admitted to the country the next step is to collect your luggage and proceed to the second Canada Border Services Agency and hand the Declaration Card to the customs officer. If the customs officer is satisfied with your declaration and at your answers to his/her questions you will be able to exit and be on your way to your final destination. If the customs officer is not satisfied with your answers or believes a further information is required, you will be sent to a secondary inspection area. In this area your bags and you are subject to a complete search.
Officers of the Canada Border Services Agency are trained professionals and the questions they ask or the treatment you receive is standard for all arriving passengers. You are responsible for complying with an officer’s request including opening your bags and being inspected. Always remember that acting in a polite and respectful manner with immigration and customs officer will make the entry process in Canada better for all parties involved.