Canada tourist visa requirements are easy to understand. The entire visa application process is online. Canada typically issues long-term multiple-entry visas valid for 5 to 10 years.
Even if you are not planning on traveling to Canada right away, getting a Canadian tourist visa can be useful for two reasons.
- Canada visitor visas are typically long-term visas (5 to 10 years). Apply for one now and you will have it for the next 10 years.
- Quite a few countries including Mexico, Costa Rica and Panama EXEMPT visa for those with a Canadian multiple entry visa.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Canada tourist visa requirements by nationality
- Canada eTA (Electronic Travel Authorization)
- Who needs Canada eTA
- Who does not need an eTA
- Is Canada eTA a visa
- Can you use ESTA to enter Canada
- Canada eTA validity
- How long can you stay in Canada with an eTA
- How many times can you enter Canada with an eTA
- eTA application process
- Documents required for eTA
- eTA fee
- eTA processing time
- eTA status
- Documents to carry when entering Canada on an eTA
- Canada Tourist Visa
- Tourist visa validity
- When to apply for tourist visa
- How long can you stay in Canada on a tourist visa
- How many times can you enter Canada on a tourist visa
- Tourist visa application process
- Documents required for tourist visa
- What is CAN+ visa program
- Tourist visa fee
- Biometric procedure
- Visa processing time
- Visa application status tracking
- Priority visa service
- Passport submission
- Customer support
- Application withdrawal
- Entering and leaving Canada
- Frequently asked questions
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CANADA TOURIST VISA REQUIREMENTS BY NATIONALITY
Minimum passport validity to enter Canada as a tourist
Passport must be valid for the entire stay in Canada
Example: If you will be entering Canada on Feb 10 and will be leaving Canada on Feb 25, your passport must be valid till Feb 25.
Visa EXEMPT nationalities (eTA not required)
- United States
Visa EXEMPT nationalities (eTA required)
- Must apply for Canada eTA prior to arrival in Canada by air
- Canada eTA is not required if traveling by land from the US
- Antigua and Barbuda
- British Virgin Islands
- Cayman Islands
- Czech Republic
- Falkland Islands
- Hong Kong
- New Zealand
- Papua New Guinea
- San Marino
- Solomon Islands
- St. Helena
- South Korea
- Turks and Caicos Islands
- United Kingdom
- Vatican City
Visa REQUIRED nationalities
- Burkina Faso
- Cape Verde
- Central African Republic
- Congo (Democratic Republic of)
- Congo (Republic of)
- Costa Rica
- Dominican Republic
- El Salvador
- Equatorial Guinea
- Ivory Coast
- Marshall Islands
- North Korea
- Sao Tome and Principe
- Saudi Arabia
- Sierra Leone
- South Africa
- South Sudan
- Sri Lanka
- St. Lucia
- St. Vincent and the Grenadines
- St. Kitts and Nevis
- Trinidad and Tobago
- United Arab Emirates
Visa EXEMPT with US Green card
- Must hold a valid US Green card
- Must apply for Canada eTA prior to arrival in Canada by air
- Canada eTA is NOT REQUIRED if traveling by land from the US
- All nationalities
Visa EXEMPT with US visa or expired Canada tourist visa
- Must hold a valid used/unused multiple-entry US non-immigrant visa (B1, B2, B1/B2, F1, J1, H1, L1) (OR) an expired Canadian visitor visa (TRV) held in the past 10 years
- Must apply for Canada eTA prior to arrival in Canada
- Applicable to air travel only
CANADA eTA (ELECTRONIC TRAVEL AUTHORIZATION)
Canada eTA is a travel authorization that needs to be obtained online prior to traveling to Canada.
Canada eTA is MANDATORY for all visa EXEMPT nationalities.
Who needs Canada eTA?
Canada eTA is REQUIRED for all visa EXEMPT nationalities entering Canada for tourism or transit. If you are visa EXEMPT, you DO NOT NEED a visa but you REQUIRE an eTA to enter Canada.
Who does not need an eTA?
The following does not need an eTA to enter Canada.
- Canadian dual citizens
- Canadian permanent residents
- United States passport holders
- Passport holders with a valid Canadian visa (tourist, student, work, etc)
Is Canada eTA a visa?
No. Canada eTA is NOT a visa. It’s just an online authorization that you would need to obtain prior to your trip to Canada.
Can you use ESTA to enter Canada?
You CANNOT use ESTA (United States Electronic System for Travel Authorization) to enter Canada. ESTA is a travel authorization to enter the US. It cannot be used for Canada. Even if you hold a valid ESTA, you would still need to apply for eTA to travel to Canada.
Canada eTA validity
Canada eTA is valid for 5 years or until the expiry of your current passport, whichever is earlier. eTA is also linked to a specific passport, so if you get a new passport for any reason, you must apply for a new eTA.
How long can you stay in Canada with an eTA?
You can stay up to 6 months in Canada with an eTA.
How many times can you enter Canada with an eTA?
Canada eTA is multiple-entry and valid for 5 years. Once you obtain your eTA, you can travel to Canada as many times as you want within that 5 years period.
Canada eTA application process
You can apply for Canada eTA online at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website.
Flight tickets and hotel bookings are not required for eTA. Apply for eTA before you purchase your flight tickets or book any hotels.
Documents required for Canada eTA
- Credit/debit card
Canada eTA fee
Canada eTA fee is $7 CAD. The fee must be paid using a credit or debit card in CAD only. Since the fee is in CAD, your bank may charge a foreign transaction fee.
Canada eTA processing time
Canada eTA processing takes only a few minutes. In rare cases, it can take several days if additional documentation or an interview is required. IRCC will contact you with instructions in such cases.
Canada eTA status
You can check your Canada eTA status on eTA Status Tool provided by IRCC. After your eTA is approved, you can use this tool to check the validity and print a copy if needed.
If it has been over 72 hours since you applied and there has been no status update, you can contact customer service using the IRCC Webform.
Documents to carry when entering Canada on an eTA
- Original passport
- Return or onward flight ticket
Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months from the day of arrival in Canada.
A copy of your approved eTA is not required to carry. Canadian immigration officers and airline staff will have access to the Canada eTA system and they can verify your eTA using your passport number.
CANADA TOURIST VISA (TRV)
A Canada tourist visa or visitor visa is formally known as Canada Temporary Resident Visa (Canada TRV). You need a Canada TRV if you are from a visa REQUIRED nationality.
Canada tourist visas can be applied either ONLINE or mailing a PAPER application to the consulate.
I highly recommend applying ONLINE. This guide focuses on the online application only. There are several advantages to applying online. It’s fast. It ensures everything is complete and correct. You only need to send your passport after your visa is approved.
Validity of Canada tourist visa
Canada tourist visas are usually issued for 10 years or until expiration of your current passport.
- Your passport expiry: Nov 14, 2029
- Applied for your Canada visa online: Feb 01, 2020
- Given your biometrics: Feb 04, 2020
- Received a notification that your visa is approved: Mar 01, 2020
- Submitted your passport to your nearest VAC: Mar 07, 2020
- Picked up your passport with visa sticker: Mar 20, 2020
Your visa will be valid from Mar 01, 2020 to Nov 14, 2029.
Date of issue: Mar 01, 2020
Date of expiry: Nov 14, 2029
If your passport is expiring soon, renew your passport first. And then apply for your Canada tourist visa, that way you can get the tourist visa for 10 years.
When to apply for Canada tourist visa
You can apply for Canada tourist visa up to 3 months in advance.
Example: If you plan to visit the UK on April 15, you can apply for your Canada visa on or after January 16.
Canada visa process can take up to 30 calendar days or even longer in some cases. I strongly recommend applying for your Canada visa at least 2 months in advance.
How long can you stay in Canada on a tourist visa
You can stay in Canada up to 6 months or until your passport expiry, whichever comes first. Occasionally, the immigration officers at the airport write an exit date on your entry stamp. This exit date can be less than 6 months. You must exit Canada within the exit date.
How many times can you enter Canada on a tourist visa?
Canada tourist visas are usually multiple-entry, valid for 10 years or until your passport expires. You can travel to Canada as many times as you like within the expiry of your tourist visa.
Canada tourist visa application process
The first step in Canada visitor visa application is to create a Government of Canada (GC) login called GCKey.
Once you have created your GCKey and signed in, you can start your visitor visa application. You can save an incomplete application and come back later to complete it.
Here are the steps to complete Canada tourist visa application.
- Create a GCKey and sign in to the CIC website
- Select visitor visa
- Fill in the mandatory details and save
- Download all Canada visa application forms
- Fill and electronic sign the application forms
- Upload filled and signed applications forms
- Upload supporting documents
- Pay the visa fee
- Pay biometrics fee
- Submit the application
- Give your biometrics are your nearest VAC
- Check the status of your application
- On approval, submit or mail your passport to your nearest VAC
- Receive or pick up your passport with Canada visa
Documents required for Canada tourist visa
The following documents are required for Canada tourist visa.
- Completed and signed Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) Application “Form IMM5257”
- Completed family information “Form IMM5645”
- Proof of financial support (last 4 months bank statements or payslips or employment letter)
- Copy of your passport (first and last page)
- Purpose of travel (round trip flight tickets and hotel bookings)
- Travel history (all pages with visas/stamps from your old and new passport in the last 10 years)
- Completed “Schedule 1 Form 5257”
- Letter of explanation of your trip (optional, a cover letter explaining your purpose of travel to Canada)
All forms can be downloaded from your application page.
Provide all pages of your old and new passport that have stamps or visas. This will ensure you have a considerable travel history.
If you have traveled to Canada in the last 10 years or hold a valid US non-immigrant visa, your application may be processed in 2 to 5 working days under the CAN+ program.
What is CAN+ visa program?
Canada Immigration and Citizenship (CIC) has started asking applicants for visas, stamps and travel history for the last 10 years.
Applicants who have traveled to Canada in the last 10 years or hold a valid US non-immigrant visa are considered for CAN+ expedited program. If qualified, some additional documentation is not required and the application is processed within 2-5 working days.
At the beginning of your application, you will be asked questions specific to previous travel to Canada and US visa to determine your eligibility. You will be asked to upload fewer documentation if you are determined as eligible.
Even though you qualify for the CAN+ expedited program, your application may take several days to process. There are many factors involved. So do not count on the CAN+ program. Instead, follow the current processing times and apply for Canada visitor visa well in advance.
Canada tourist visa fee
Canada tourist visa fee is $100 CAD. The fee must be paid using a credit or debit card in CAD only. Since the fee is in CAD, your bank may charge a foreign transaction fee.
Biometrics are mandatory for all Canada tourist visa applicants. Your fingerprints are scanned and your photograph is taken during the biometric appointment.
Biometrics are valid for 10 years. If you have given your biometrics in the last 10 years a part of a Canada visitor, work or study visa, you are NOT REQUIRED to give your biometrics again.
You can use the Biometric Validity Tool on the IRCC website to check if your biometrics are still valid.
If your biometrics are still valid, you do not need to pay the biometric fee and do not need to give biometrics.
The following are the steps for biometrics.
STEP 1: Pay your biometric fee
The biometric fee for Canada tourist visa is $85 CAD. The fee must be paid using credit or debit card in CAD only.
You can pay the biometric fee when you submit your visa application or at a later time. It’s highly recommended to pay your biometric fee when you submit your visa application. Paying later will delay your biometrics and eventually your visa process.
STEP 2: Receive biometric instruction letter within 24 hours
If you have paid your biometric fee when submitting your visa application, you will receive your biometric instruction letter within 24 hours of application submission.
STEP 3: Schedule biometric appointment at your nearest VAC
After you receive your biometric instruction letter, you will have 30 days to give your biometrics. Failing to give biometrics within 30 days will result in visa refusal.
Follow the instructions in your biometric instruction letter and schedule a biometric appointment at your nearest Visa Application Center (VAC) or Application Support Center (ASC).
Once you schedule your biometric appointment, you will receive a biometric appointment confirmation letter from VAC or ASC.
If you have temporary injuries on your fingers and/or your face, you must wait to give your biometrics. You should contact IRCC customer support to request additional time for your biometrics appointment.
If you have permanent injuries on your fingers and/or face, you can continue with your biometrics appointment. The staff at VAC can scan as many fingers as possible and take your photograph.
STEP 4: Gather documents for biometric appointment
Print your biometric instruction letter and biometric appointment confirmation. Some VACs require a consent form. If your VAC requires one, you will see instructions about it in your biometric appointment confirmation.
STEP 4: Appear in-person at the VAC on your appointment day
On your appointment day, carry the following documents
- Original passport
- Biometric instruction letter
- Biometric appointment confirmation
- Consent form (if required)
Your fingerprints will be scanned and your photo will be taken. To avoid any issues with your fingerprint or photo, following the below instructions.
- Make sure your 10 fingers are free of any temporary injuries, cuts and cracks
- Make sure your 10 fingers are free of paint, oil, grease, etc.
- Make sure your face is free of any temporary injuries, sunglasses, hats, etc.
- Wear bright color shirt or T-shirt
Visa processing time
Canada tourist visa processing can take up to 30 calendar days. Processing times vary by country, check the current processing times before applying.
Follow the below steps to check the current visa processing times in your location.
- Goto CIC Check processing times page
- For question “Select an application type:”, select “Temporary residence (visiting, studying, working)”
- For the question “Which temporary residence application?”, select “Visitor visa (from outside Canada)”
- For the question “Where are you applying from?”, select the country where you have applied from
- Click on “Get processing time”
Visa application status tracking
You can check the status of your visa application by signing into your IRCC account. When there is a change in the status, you will receive an email alert. Then you can sign in to your IRCC account and check the status.
If your application has been pending for too long, you can contact CIC using their IRCC Webform. Follow the below steps to contact CIC.
- Go to IRCC Web Form
- Click on “Tell us more”.
- For question “Have you submitted an application for”, select option “Yes”
- For the question “Is your application being processed by an office OUTSIDE Canada”, select “Yes”
- For question “Choose the visa office processing your application.”, select the country and city where you have applied
- Click on “Go to Web form”
- Then fill in the details and submit.
Priority visa service
There is no priority visa service for Canada tourist visa. Check current processing times and apply well in advance. You can apply for Canada tourist visa up to 3 months in advance.
If you traveled to Canada in the last 10 years or hold a valid US non-immigrant visa, your application MAY BE expedited under CAN+ program where your application will be processed in just a few days.
Processing your application in CAN+ expedited program is at the discretion of CIC. So, do not completely rely on that. Instead, follow the timeline and apply for Canada visitor visa at least 3 months before your travel.
When your Canada tourist visa application is approved, you will be notified via email. You must submit or mail your original passport to your nearest VAC or ASC. The VAC or ASC will then send your passport to the Consulate of Canada for the visa sticker.
There is no dedicated customer service. You can track your application status online. If you have to contact CIC for any reason, use the IRCC Web Form. For other inquiries, you can contact your nearest VAC.
There is no formal procedure to withdraw your Canada tourist visa application. You can just abandon it. If you do not send your passport within 30 days of application approval, your application will be void anyway.
ENTERING AND LEAVING CANADA
Entering Canada by air
At your first airport in Canada, the immigration officers may ask you a few questions about your purpose of travel and the number of days you will stay in Canada.
You may be asked to show your return/onward ticket and your hotel booking. If you are traveling on a one-way ticket, make sure to get proof of onward ticket.
Leaving Canada by air
There is no exit procedure for Canada. After the security procedure, you can head straight to the departure gate
The US has set up its Customs and Immigration in some of the Canadian airports. So, if you will be traveling to the US from Canada, you may have to go through US immigration at the departure airport in Canada.
When you land in the US, you will just walk out as if it was a domestic flight.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is GCKey on CIC website?
The Government of Canada Key (GCKey) is needed to access any of the Government of Canada’s online services, including Canada Immigration and Citizenship (CIC) website. Therefore, you need a GCKey to sign into CIC website to apply for Canada tourist visa. GCKey is basically a username and password.
Why is my application is not being processed in CAN+ expedited program
Even though you qualify for CAN+ expedited program, your application may take several days to process. Application process took more than 30 days for some readers with travel history to Canada and/or hold US visas. There are many factors involved and ultimately it’s at the discretion of CIC whether to process your application quickly.
My advice is to just follow the regular processing time line. Check the current processing times and apply well in advance.
How relevant is travel history for Canada visa?
Travel history will improve your chances of visa approval. It can also speed up the process. If you have traveled to Canada in the last 10 years or hold a valid US visa, your application may be processed quickly under CAN+ expedited program.
Canada’s incredible geography attracts millions of tourists every year. Canada tourist visa requirements are clear and easy to understand. The application process is online. Canada typically issues long-term multiple entry visas for 5 to 10 years.
WRITTEN BY THIRUMAL MOTATI
Thirumal Motati is a world traveler and digital nomad from India. He is on a mission to travel to every country in the world on his Indian passport. He believes that his weak passport cannot stop him from traveling the world. Through this blog, he inspires many to take up the life of travel despite their weak passports. His guidance has helped many secure their visas and fulfill their travel dreams.
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