Visa policy of Canada
A foreign national wishing to enter Canada must obtain a temporary resident visa unless he or she is a citizen of one of the 51 eligible visa exempt countries. Every year, more than 35 million people visit Canada.
Visa policy map
Citizens of the majority of countries need a temporary resident visa to visit Canada. They need to apply at one of the consular offices of Canada or at one of the Canadian Visa application centres (run by VFS Global). There is no separate application for business visitors. The temporary resident visa covers all visitors, including those in Canada on business. Some visitors are eligible to apply entirely online.
Citizens of the following 29 countries, as of September and December 2013, also must provide biometrics (fingerprints and photograph): Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Haiti, Iran, Iraq, Jamaica, Jordan, Laos, Lebanon, Libya, Myanmar, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestinian Authority, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Vietnam and Yemen.
Parents and grandparents of Canadian citizens and permanent residents can apply for the parent and grandparent super visa which allows them to stay for up to two years in Canada without renewing their status.
The citizens of the following countries and territories are able to visit or transit through Canada with a valid passport and without obtaining a visa for a period of up to six months. Visitors are eligible if they are in good health, can convince an immigration officer that they have ties (job, home, financial assets or family) that will take them back to their home country and have enough money for their stay. In some cases a medical exam and letter of invitation may be required.
1 – excluding Bulgaria and Romania.
2 – including British nationals holding Guernsey passport, Manx passport, Jersey passport, British Overseas Territories citizen passports — Anguillan passport, Bermudian passport, British Virgin Islands passport, Caymanian passport, Gibraltar passport, Montserratian passport, Pitcairn Islands passport, Saint Helena passport, Turks and Caicos Islands passport, British National (Overseas) passport and if having the right of abode — British Overseas Citizen passport and British Subject passport.
3 – holders of biometric Lithuanian passport and Polish passport only.
4 – visa free travel for holders of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region passports only.
5 – holders of national Israeli passports only.
6 – visa free travel only for holders of the ordinary passport issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Taiwan that includes their personal identification number.
7 – Including persons lawfully admitted to the United States for permanent residence who are in possession of their alien registration card (Green card) or can provide other evidence of permanent residence.
On entry, Canada Border Services Officer (BSO) stamp passports or travel documents and record the date by which a traveller must leave Canada. Visitors wishing to extend their status date must apply 30 days before it expires.
Transit without a visa
In addition to visa exempt nationals, the Transit Without Visa (TWOV) program and the China Transit Program (CTP) allow certain foreign nationals to transit through Canada on their way to and from the United States without a Canadian transit visa. They also must hold a valid US visa, travel on an approved airline (either Air Canada, Air China, Cathay Pacific, China Airlines, Philippine Airlines, Jazz Air, Sky Regional Airlines, and Air Georgian) and transit through a participating Canadian international airport (either Vancouver International Airport or Toronto Pearson International Airport, Terminal 1 only).
For Transit Without Visa those are the citizens of the following countries:
Changes to the list of visa-exempt countries and territories
On 5 September 2002, visa restrictions were reintroduced for Saudi Arabian citizens travelling to Canada because 'Saudi Arabia has not demonstrated the necessary will nor that it possesses the infrastructure to deny the use of its passports to terrorists, criminals or other inadmissible persons'.
On 11 May 2004, visa restrictions were reintroduced for Costa Rican citizens travelling to Canada because the 'number of Costa Rican nationals travelling to Canada to claim refugee protection or to enter the United States illegally, using Canada as a transit point, continues to grow' and also because there is 'a growing incidence of Costa Rican document abuse by nationals of neighbouring countries'.
On 26 March 2009, visa requirements were lifted for Croatian citizens travelling to Canada because 'immigration violation and visa application refusal rates for Croatian nationals have steadily decreased over the past five years, while the number of refugee claims and removals has remained low'.
On 13 July 2009, visa restrictions were reintroduced for Mexican citizens travelling to Canada because of three main factors: the number of refugee claims for Mexican nationals has substantially increased from less than 3 500 in 2005 to almost 9 500 in 2008, the immigration violation rate has steadily increased over the past three years and the risks related to travel documents, organised crime and corruption.
Canadian citizens enjoy visa-free access to the Schengen Area, which includes the Czech Republic. When the Czech Republic joined the European Union with 9 other countries in 2004, the European Union started a dialogue with the Canadian government to lift visa requirements for citizens of these countries to receive visa reciprocity between the all Schengen countries and Canada. The result was the lifting of visa requirements for Czech citizens in October 2007. However, on 16 July 2009, Canada reintroduced visa requirements for Czech citizens as the overstay percentage was very high because many Roma filed for asylum. The EU urged Canada that "This highly regrettable situation should be brought to an end as soon as possible." As of November 14, 2013 visa requirements have been lifted.
Starting from 22 November 2010, holders of an ordinary Taiwan passport with a personal identification number were able to enter Canada without a visa because 'TRV refusal rates and the number of immigration violations, removals, and asylum claims by Taiwan passport holders are low'.
On 13 September 2012, Botswana, Namibia, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Swaziland were removed from the list of exempted nations. As a result, citizens of these five countries were required to obtain visas in advance to travel to or transit through Canada. Botswana, Namibia, and Swaziland were removed primarily due to concerns relating to human trafficking (especially of minors) and the use of fraudulent documents. Also, Namibia had the highest immigration violation rate, with 81% of its citizens in Canada committing immigration violations, and 71% of Namibian travellers made asylum claims in 2011 in Canada. Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines were removed mainly because of unreliable travel documents, in particular because 'criminals from these countries can legally change their names and acquire new passports'. In certain cases, citizens of these two countries 'who were removed from Canada as security risks later returned using different passports'. In addition, the removal of Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines was prompted by the 'unacceptably high number of asylum claims from St. Lucia and St. Vincent, with about one and a half percent and three percent of the population of these countries making asylum claims in Canada over the past five years'.
In October 2013, following the successful asylum system reform, Canada announced an imminent removal of visa requirements for Czech citizens. The bigger problem was a wave of fake asylum claims coming from Hungary. Concerns about the introduction of visas for Hungarian citizens were cleared as it was revealed that the new system helped reduce number of asylum claims by 98 per cent. Canada lifted visa requirement for Czech citizens effective immediately on November 14, 2013.
- Explore Canada
- Visit as a tourist
- Determine your eligibility – Visit on business
- Getting Started
- Find out if you need to give biometrics
- Visit your children or grandchildren
- Countries and territories whose citizens do not need a visa (visa exemptions). Citizenship and Immigration Canada
- Find out if you need a medical exam
- Determine your eligibility–Visit Canada as a tourist
- Information for British Passport Holders
- Extend your stay – Visit Canada
- Determine your eligibility – Transit without a visa
- Determine your eligibility – China Transit Program
- "Canada Gazette". Gazette.gc.ca. 2010-09-29. Retrieved 2013-01-05.
- "Canada Gazette". Canada Gazette. 2010-09-29. Retrieved 2013-01-05.
- "Canada imposes visa requirements on Malaysians". Malaysiakini. 2002-09-23. Retrieved 2013-01-05.
- "Canada Gazette". Gazette.gc.ca. 2010-07-08. Retrieved 2013-01-05.
- "ARCHIVED — Canada Gazette – Regulations Amending the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (temporary resident visa exemption for nationals of Croatia)". Gazette.gc.ca. 2012-11-09. Retrieved 2013-01-05.
- [dead link]
- Fourth Visa reciprocity report European Union
- "News Release – Canada imposes a visa on the Czech Republic". Cic.gc.ca. Retrieved 2013-01-05.
- MEPs ask Canada to lift visa requirements for all EU citizen Euractive.com
- Fifth visa reciprocity report European Union
- "ARCHIVED — Canada Gazette – Regulations; Parliament; Law; Instruments; Media; Regulation; Governor General; Cabinet; Information". Gazette.gc.ca. 2012-11-09. Retrieved 2013-01-05.
- "Citizenship and Immigration Canada: News Release — Canada imposes visas on St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Namibia, Botswana and Swaziland". Cic.gc.ca. Retrieved 2013-01-05.
- Minister Jason Kenney says movement on Czech visas on the horizon, Calgary Herald, October 17, 2013
- Canada to lift visa requirements for Czechs
- Canada lifts visa requirement for the Czech Republic