UPDATE: The implementation deadline for this new law has been pushed to November 11, 2016. You can read our update here. Below is the original, unedited article from early September.

Effective September 30, 2016, Canadian citizens will only be permitted to enter the country if travelling on a valid Canadian passport.

Until relatively recently, Canadians were able to travel on some international flights with nothing more than proof of Canadian residency and acceptable photo ID.

However, for the last number of years, Canadian air travellers have been required to carry a valid passport. As there was no stipulation the passport had to be Canadian, it was perfectly acceptable for Canadians holding dual citizenship to use the passport of their other nationality, along with proof of Canadian citizenship (for example, their Canadian citizenship card) to return home.

At the end of this month, however, that will no longer be the case.

Many Canadians hold dual citizenship by birth or residency, or through parents or grandparents. Unlike some countries, Canada permits its citizens to hold more than one valid passport. Consequently, it is not uncommon for Canadians who live overseas to allow their Canadian passports to lapse and instead travel on the passport of their new home nation, or for new Canadians to continue to use their original non-Canadian passport until it expires before applying for their first Canadian passport.

In addition, some Canadians who travel frequently choose to hold both Canadian and other passports to avoid certain visa requirements, or to expedite entry into other countries.

The new regulation will force these and all other Canadian citizens who travel by air to immediately acquire Canadian passports.

who needs a visa to fly into canada

Vancouver airport at dusk. (Gord McKenna/Flickr/Creative Commons)

As of September 30, airlines will deny boarding to any homebound Canadian citizen who only holds the passport of another country and proof of Canadian citizenship.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada has advised that due to the surge in applications for new passports brought about by this change, applications can take as long as 40 days to be completed. Consequently, any Canadian citizen in need of a passport should apply well ahead of their anticipated travel date.

Here’s what’s changing on September 30:

Canadian Citizens:

No one holding Canadian citizenship will be permitted to enter Canada by air unless they are carrying a valid Canadian passport. A Canadian citizen travelling on a valid non-Canadian passport and proof of Canadian citizenship (for example, Canadian dual citizens) should expect to be denied boarding by the airline. Canadian citizens travelling by land or sea are currently not required to have a Canadian passport.

Canadian Permanent Residents:

Canadian permanent residents returning to Canada must carry a valid passport from the country of their citizenship as well as a valid Canadian permanent resident card, or a valid Canadian permanent resident travel document.

Visitors to Canada:

Most people travelling to Canada on vacation must hold a valid passport from their country of citizenship as well as a valid visa for Canada. Visas must be applied for and obtained in advance, either online or through their closest Canadian embassy or consulate.

Visitors to Canada from visa-exempt countries:

While it is true that citizens from a number of countries do not need visas to visit Canada, they are still required to obtain an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) online prior to arriving in Canada. Most eTAs are issued within minutes, although all visa-exempt visitors to Canada are recommended to apply for their eTA before they book their flights. Visitors from the United States are not required to obtain eTAs, while Canadian citizens, Canadian dual-citizens and Canadian permanent residents are ineligible to obtain eTAs.

As requirements may change, please consult Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada for the latest details before booking travel arrangements.

8 Responses

  1. David R Gildea

    Well, Trudeau senior screwed people over citizenship when he was in charge so why wouldn’t his offspring do the same thing, money grabs all over the place, guess he has too to recover part of the billions he is giving away overseas.

  2. David

    Person 1 and Person 2 intend to fly to Canada. Person 1 is a citizen of Country X. Person 2 is a dual-national and is a citizen of Country X and also a Canadian citizen. Both hold valid passports for Country X. Neither holds a valid Canadian passport. Person 1, being a foreign national, will be ALLOWED entry to Canada. Person 2 will be DENIED entry to Canada. The difference between these two is that Person 2 also happens to be a Canadian citizen.

    Let me say that again: Person 2 is DENIED entry to CANADA, because they happen to be CANADIAN.

    Wow. Only in Canada.

  3. Elizabeth Motsch

    One very important detail which is never mentioned is that Canadians must also respect visiting countries entrance laws. Passports are no longer valid for 5 years. I’m not a frequent traveller and imagine when I arrived in TO to board a plane and was refused because my passport was short 2 weeks validity for visiting country. My travel agent neglected to fully explain that requirement. I was not the only traveller facing the same predicament so obviously the system failed many of us. Our Canadian Passports are NOT valid for 5 years. This needs to be adequately stipulated at point of passport application. This is a MUST. I was never reimbursed for the additional travel expenses.

    • L. Mack

      Does this new passport law include Canadians, who are now US citizens, living permanently in the US and travelling to Canada on US passports?

      • Michael Fraiman

        If you’re still retain your Canadian citizenship, you’ll need a Canadian passport. If you gave up your Canadian citizenship for American, then you’re an American now and the rule doesn’t apply. Best of luck with your travels!

      • dobes

        The law requiring Canadian citizens who are dual citizens to enter Canada on their Canadian passport does not apply to those who are also US citizens. In other words, dual US-Canadian citizens may enter Canada on either passport. That is because these countries share a database of entries to their countries.

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