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New requirements for entering Canada


New requirements for entering Canada

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THE GOVERNMENT of Canada has advised that effective April 2015, all foreign nationals of visa exempt countries will be required to undergo prior screening for approval to enter that country.

Due to the Canadian Government’s limited capacity to identify and screen foreign nationals who do not require a temporary resident visa to travel to Canada, it will be introducing the new Electronic Travel Authorisation (eTA) which is a new electronic document requirement for visa exempt travellers entering by air.  The application fee for the eTA is CDN$7 (appox. BDS$12).

This new requirement is similar to the existing US Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) or Australian Electronic Travel Authority (eTA).

As a consequence, all persons with Barbadian passports are expected to have the eTA prior to their departure for Canada.  This includes all holders of diplomatic and official passports travelling to Canada on official or personal business. Only holders of diplomatic and official passports who are accredited to Canada will be exempt from this requirement.

Additionally, an application for a work or study permit would constitute an eTA application and therefore, a separate application would not be required.  Students in possession of the relevant student visa will be exempted.

The eTA programme was first announced by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in the Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness Action Plan in December, 2011.  The eTA programme, which is only applicable to visa exempt travellers arriving by air, will only require an online application.  The vast majority of eTA applications will be auto-granted by an electronic system, and will be valid for five years, or until the passport expires or whichever comes first.

All Barbadian travellers arriving in Canada and in possession of an eTA will still be interviewed by a Canada Border Service Agency (CBSA) official, who will determine final eligibility.  Persons transiting Canada are also required to have an eTA prior to travelling.

Although the programme will be rolled out in April, it will become mandatory in October 2015 when the CBSA’s Interactive Passenger Information System becomes operational.  During this six-month grace period, Barbadian travellers not in possession of an eTA will not be refused entry to Canada. (BGIS)