The border control programme will come into full effect on September 29. International visitors, including those from the UK, will be refused access if they don’t possess the document.
Airlines flying to Canada will now require an Electronic Travel Authorisation (eTA) in order for customers to complete the check-in process. Those doing so online will not be able to print their boarding pass if an eTA is not recognised.
Applications for an eTA can be completed through the government of Canada’s website. Processing time can be as little as five minutes with the cost currently at £3.40.
An eTA will remain valid for five years.
The border control scheme acts similarly to the US’ Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) programme, with basic biographical information and medical history required. Criminal history will also need to be declared. Visitors must apply at least 72 hours before travel or risk being refused entry.
Individuals with serious health risks or past criminal convictions will not be valid for the documentation.
A spokesperson for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada said: “We encourage people to start applying now if they plan to travel to Canada. We don’t want to discourage people with the eTA programme. The leniency period that we are currently going through was put in place to avoid confusion and stress during the busy summer months. The scheme has not affected UK visitor numbers.”
From March 15 to September 29 eTA was not a compulsory requirement if passengers presented documentation such as a valid passport. Between those dates travellers were checked at immigration instead of pre-flight. Visitors who didn’t have an eTA were presented with a leaflet of information regarding changes in immigration policy.