Canada Expands Visa-Free Travel: 13 More Countries Qualify for Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA)
In an effort to enhance its immigration programs and make them more accessible to people worldwide, Canada has announced the inclusion of 13 additional countries in its electronic travel authorization (eTA) program. The Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, unveiled the expansion, which aims to streamline the travel process and promote Canada as a preferred destination for business, leisure, and family reunions.
Effective immediately, travellers from the following countries can apply for an eTA instead of a visa if they have held a Canadian visa within the past 10 years or currently possess a valid United States non-immigrant visa:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- Costa Rica
- St. Kitts and Nevis
- St. Lucia
- St. Vincent and the Grenadines
- Trinidad and Tobago
The introduction of visa-free air travel will significantly expedite and simplify the process for thousands of visitors wishing to explore Canada for up to six months, whether for leisure or business purposes. This initiative is expected to boost Canada’s economy by promoting travel, tourism, and international business collaborations while fostering stronger bilateral relationships with the 13 newly included countries.
Additionally, diverting a considerable number of applications from Canada’s visa caseload will enable more efficient processing and benefit all visa applicants.
Travellers who already possess a valid visa can continue to use it for their travels to Canada. However, those who are ineligible for an eTA or intend to travel to Canada by means other than air (such as car, bus, train, boat, including cruise ships) will still require a visitor visa. To determine eTA eligibility and apply for one, travellers can visit Canada.ca/eTA.
The Honourable Sean Fraser expressed enthusiasm about this development, stating, “This expansion not only enhances convenience for travellers, it will also increase travel, tourism, economic benefits, and strengthen global bonds with these 13 countries.”
The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Foreign Affairs, highlighted the significance of expanding the eTA program to countries like the Philippines, emphasizing its alignment with Canada’s Indo-Pacific Strategy and its objective to deepen engagement, strengthen ties, and facilitate travel within the region.
The Honourable Randy Boissonnault, Minister of Tourism and Associate Minister of Finance, emphasized the positive impact of streamlining entry processes, stating, “This strategic move supports our visitor economy by injecting vitality into our local communities and creating countless job opportunities.”
Air Canada also expressed its support for the more user-friendly travel authorization process, acknowledging its benefits for both the airline and the wider travel and tourism industry in Canada.
Tamara Vrooman, President & CEO of Vancouver Airport Authority, emphasized the immediate opportunities for increased global connectivity and economic growth that visa-free air travel presents, particularly for key destinations in Latin America and Asia.
The eTA is a digital travel document required for most visa-exempt travellers entering or transiting through Canada by air. The application process involves a light-touch, pre-travel screening conducted by Canadian officials. The cost to apply for an eTA is $7, and most applications are approved automatically within minutes. To apply, travellers only need a valid passport, a credit card, an email address, and internet access.
Since the launch of the eTA program on August 1, 2015, nearly 20.9 million eTAs have been issued. This expansion builds upon the previous inclusion of eligible Brazilians, Bulgarians, and Romanians in April 2017, with visa requirements being lifted for citizens of Bulgaria and Romania later that year.
Canada anticipates receiving an additional 200,000 visitors from the newly included countries within the next year, resulting in approximately $160 million in additional tourism revenue over the next decade.