Canada visa requirements are quite easy to understand. The entire application process is online. Canada usually issues long term multiple entry visas for 5 or 10 years.
Even if you are not planning on traveling to Canada right away, getting a Canadian visa can be useful for two reasons
- Canadian visas are typically long term visas (5 or 10 years). You apply it one time now and you will have it for the next 10 years.
- Countries such as Mexico, Costa Rica and Panama exempt visa for those with a Canadian multiple entry visa.
Canada Visa Requirements
Antigua and Barbuda
British Virgin Islands
Papua New Guinea
Turks and Caicos Islands
Vatican City (Holy See)
Central African Republic
Congo (Dem. Rep. of)
Congo (Republic of)
Sao Tome and Principe
St. Vincent and the Grenadines
St. Kitts and Nevis
Trinidad and Tobago
United Arab Emirates
Note: The above visa REQUIRED passport holders are visa EXEMPT if they are permanent residents (Green card holders) in the United States. Canadian eTA is still REQUIRED if traveling by air.
Check if you need a visitor/tourist visa to travel to Canada in the “Visa Requirements” section above.
Alternatively, you can check your visa eligibility and requirements at the Canada Immigration and Citizenship (CIC) website.
Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA)
If you have a visa EXEMPT passport and you need Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA), you must apply for eTA online before your travel to Canada.
Note: You cannot use ESTA (United States Electronic System for Travel Authorization) to enter Canada. Even if you have ESTA, you would still need to apply for Canadian eTA.
Who does not need an eTA?
- Canadian duel citizens
- Canadian permanent residents
- United States passport holders
- Passport holders with a valid Canadian visa (tourist, student, work, etc)
Where to apply for eTA?
Apply for eTA online at Canada Immigration and Citizenship (CIC) website. Fee for eTA is currently $7 CAD. The application might take a few minutes but some times it can take a few days for approval.
Flight tickets and hotel bookings are not required for eTA. Therefore, apply for eTA before you purchase your flight tickets.
You must first create a Government of Canada (GC) login called GCKey. Once you have created your login, you will be shown options to apply for different visas in the system. Choose visitor visa. You can save an incomplete application and come back later to complete.
Steps to complete the application
- Create a GCKey
- Choose visitor visa
- Fill the details and save
- Download all application forms
- Fill and electronic sign the application forms
- Upload filled and signed applications forms
- Upload supporting documents
- Pay the visa fee
- Submit the application
- Check status of your application
- On approval, mail your passport (dropbox and in person facilities available at your nearest Visa Application Center VAC)
You will need the following documentation
- Application for visitor visa (Temporary Resident Visa – Form IMM5257)
- Proof of means of financial support (Last 4 months bank statements or pay stubs or employment letter, etc)
- Copy of passport (First, last pages along with pages that has stamps/visas)
- Purpose of travel (Round trip flight tickets and hotel bookings)
- Family information (Form IMM5645)
- Travel history (Old and new passport in the last 10 years with visas/stamps)
- Digital photo (In JPG format around 240KB)
- Schedule 1 (Form 5257)
- Letter of explanation (Optional, explaining your purpose of travel to Canada)
All forms can be downloaded from your application page. Provide all pages of your passport that has stamps/visas. This will ensure you have a considerable travel history.
Note: Applicable to Indian applicants. If you have a visa from the US and/or a previous visa from Canada, your application might be processed much quicker (2 to 5 days) under CAN+ program.
What is CAN+ visa program?
Canada Immigration and Citizenship (CIC) has started asking applicants from India for travel history for the last 10 years.
Applications from Indian nationals who have travelled to Canada or the US within the last 10 years are processed under the new CAN+ expedited program. Under this program, additional documentation is not required and the application is processed within 2-5 days.
Here is a note from Chris Alexander, Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister on July 07, 2014.
Our government is committed to facilitating trade and travel for genuine visitors and business people from India who contribute positively to the Canadian economy. We are pleased to officially launch the CAN+ program in India, making it faster and easier for Indians to come to Canada to do business, visit family and friends, or to bolster Canada’s tourism industry. We value our strong relationship with India and this initiative will further enhance our economic and cultural ties.
Visa fee for Canadian visitor visa is $100 CAD. You can pay this fee with a credit card online during the submission of your application.
Passport holders of the below countries need to give biometrics (fingerprints and photo) at the nearest Visa Application Center (VAC) when applying for the visa.
You will be given instructions on where and how to give the biometrics on your application submission.
Apply in person
You can only apply for Canadian visitor visa online. You can also go to your nearest Visa Application Center (VAC) for assistance. They usually assist you in filling the applications and submitting online.
Apply by mail
You can only apply for Canadian visitor visa online. Check with your nearest Visa Application Center (VAC).
Apply through visa/travel agency
You cannot apply for Canadian visa via visa/travel agency. You can only apply online and if you need assistance with submitting your applicant, contact you nearest Visa Application Center (VAC).
Priority visa service
There is no priority visa service. Check processing times and apply in advance. You can apply up to 3 months in advance.
If you hold an Indian passport and have a US visa and/or a previous Canadian visa with considerable travel history, your application might be expedited under CAN+ program where your application will be processed in just a few days.
Expediting your application depends on CIC and their work load, holidays, etc. So, make sure to follow the time line and apply at least 3 months before your travel.
You must mail your original passport to your nearest VAC on your visa approval. VAC will then send your passport to the nearest Consulate of Canada for visa.
Alternatively, you can also submit your original passport at your nearest VAC in person.
There is no dedicated customer service. You can track your application status online. If you have to contact CIC for some reason, use their Web Form. For other inquiries, you can contact your nearest VAC.
There is no formal procedure to withdraw an application. You can just abandon it. If you do not send your passport within 30 days of application approval, your application will be void anyways.
Immigration and Customs
Most airlines do not let you check-in online if you need a visa to travel to the destination country.
If you check-in online or at the airport, either way make sure to arrive at the gate a bit early and see the airline staff. They sometimes have to go through the visa requirements again, verify the documents and put a “Docs Ok” stamp on your boarding pass.
Make sure your passport is valid for at least 6 months from the day of travel.
At your first port of entry in Canada, you have to go through the Customs and Immigration. You will be asked about your purpose of travel and the number of days you will be staying in Canada.
As always, carry a copy of your return ticket and hotel/hostel/airbnb booking for just in case.
Nothing needs to be done on exit. Just make sure to stop by the gate to check with the staff if you they need to verify your documents.
The United States has set up it’s Customs and Immigration in some of the Canadian airports. If you are traveling to the United States from Canada, depending on the airport you may go through the United States Customs and Immigration.
When you land in the US, you will just walk out as if it was a domestic flight.
You may have to go through immigration and customs on your return at your home country or the country you are flying back to. If you are flying back on a Airbus A330/A340/A380 or Boeing 747/777, expect long lines at the immigration and customs.
Canada’s incredible geography attracts millions of tourists every year. Canada visa requirements are clear and easy to understand. Application process is online. Canada typically issues long term multiple entry visas for 5 to 10 years.