Sarah McInnes
Sarah McInnes, Lawyer, McInnes Cooper
Meghan Felt
Meghan Felt, Lawyer, McInnes Cooper

Does your business involve international travel by clients, employees or others to you in Canada? Starting March 15, 2016, visa-exempt foreign nationals, including those who have a work permit but are visa exempt, will need an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) to travel both through and to Canada. A traveller who needs but doesn’t have one risks being turned away at the border or an extremely difficult time with a border official – and a delayed ETA either way.

The eTA is electronically linked to the traveller’s passport and is valid for five years or until the passport expires (whichever comes first) and allows Canadian immigration officials to screen travellers before they arrive. Only U.S. citizens and foreign nationals with a valid temporary resident visa won’t require one. Between March 15, 2016 and Fall 2016, travellers who require but don’t have an eTA can still board their flight if they have appropriate travel documents and will be allowed to enter Canada if they meet the other requirements to do so. But it’s a hassle for a traveller to demonstrate that she meets all of these basic requirements (which include a medical check, a criminal background check, proof the traveller will return home after her visit to Canada, and demonstrating she has sufficient funds for the duration of her visit).

Travellers without an eTA or who can’t meet the requirements to get in without one during the grace period will either be turned away at the border, or have an extremely difficult time with a border official. So travellers should apply for the eTA and have it in hand for any travel after March 15: it eliminates the hassle and risks, is simple, costs only $7, and the applicant will receive it shortly after applying. Here are three simple steps to apply:

1. Website. Go to the website at; an applicant needs a valid passport, a credit card and a valid email address.

2. Prompt. The applicant is prompted to complete an application if she answers “yes” to any of the following (if you indicate yes before March 15, the system will say the applicant doesn’t need an eTA but the applicant can still apply for one):

  • A visitor entering Canada by land or sea.
  • A citizen of France residing in and travelling from St. Pierre and Miquelon.
  • A student with a valid study permit for Canada obtained on or after August 1, 2015.
  • A foreign worker with a valid work permit for Canada obtained on or after August 1, 2015.
  • A person holding a valid work or study permit in Canada and entering Canada from the US or St. Pierre and Miquelon.
  • A member of Visiting Forces visiting Canada on official duties/orders.
  • A member of a flight crew, a civil aviation inspector or an accident investigator.
  • An accredited diplomat.

3. Apply. The application form is relatively brief and asks for personal details, such as name and date of birth, previous entry to Canada, funds available for travel, passport details, contact details and residential address. An applicant must also consent to information being collected by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) to determine admissibility to Canada.

Please contact your McInnes Cooper lawyer or any member of our McInnes Cooper Immigration Team to discuss this topic or any other legal issue.  You can read more of McInnes Cooper’s Legal Publications at

McInnes Cooper prepared this article for information; it is not legal advice.  Consult McInnes Cooper before acting on it. McInnes Cooper excludes all liability for anything contained in or any use of this article. © McInnes Cooper, 2016.  All rights reserved.

About the authors:

Sarah McInnes is a Lawyer at McInnes Cooper practicing Immigration and Corporate and Business law. She assists a wide range of clients with a variety of Canadian immigration issues, including advising corporations seeking labour market impact assessments and work permits to hire foreign workers. You can reach Sarah at

Meghan Felt is a Labour and Employment lawyer at McInnes Cooper. With a particular focus on Immigration law, Meghan has represented and advised countless clients with Canadian immigration issues, including corporations seeking labour market opinions and work permits to hire foreign workers. You can reach Meghan at