Visitor Information

Visiting Canada

Information from the Canadian Government Website for Citizenship and Immigration Canada

This information is not a legal document and is provided for convenience only. For official information please contact the nearest Canadian Embassy or Canadian Immigration Processing Mission Abroad.

OVERVIEW

Visitors come to Canada for a temporary stay. They include tourists, people visiting family in Canada, business travelers, students, and temporary workers. Visitors bring important economic, social and cultural benefits to Canada, contribute to global trade and cooperation, and promote international understanding.

In 1998, nearly 41 million foreign travelers visited Canada (Statistics Canada). Almost 90% of these visitors were citizens or residents of the United States.

PLANNING TO VISIT CANADA?

Most visitors need a valid passport, and many require visitor’s visas. Different requirements exist for citizens or permanent residents of the United States, St. Pierre and Miquelon and Greenland.

Visitors to Canada must satisfy an immigration officer that:

  • they intend to return to their home country and will not try to stay in Canada;
  • they are in good health (some visitors may be asked to undergo a medical examination at their own expense);
  • they do not have a criminal record or are a security risk;
  • they have sufficient funds to cover travel costs and support themselves in Canada;

If you do not meet these criteria, you may be denied admission to Canada.

Usually visitors may stay for six months. If they wish to stay longer, they must apply for a visitor extension. Generally visitors are not allowed to work or study while in Canada without authorization.

Visitors to Canada are not eligible for provincial health coverage and are advised to obtain medical insurance for the period of their stay.

VISITORS VISAS

Nationals of more than 130 countries need visitor visas to enter Canada. Nationals of 60 countries are exempt from the requirement for a visitor visa. In 1997, more than 650,000 visitor visas were issued. A visitor visa must be obtained at a Canadian Mission Abroad before coming to Canada. Nationals from Germany, Austria and Switzerland do not need Visas.

Cost-recovery fees are charged to process applications for visitor visas, employment authorizations, student authorizations and so on. These processing fees are not refundable if an application is refused.

Applications must be submitted to the visa office, along with the appropriate fee and required documents, by mail or in person or dropped off. It is important to complete all the questions and indicate whether a single entry or multiple entry visa is required.

Visa officials may ask applicants to provide further documentation or to come for an interview.

For more information on visiting Canada and applying for a visitor visa, please see Applying for a Visitor Visa. The application form may be downloaded in Adobe® Acrobat format.

VISITOR VISA EXEMPTIONS

Many people do not require a visa to visit Canada. These include:

  • citizens of Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Botswana, Brunei, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel (National Passport holders only), Italy, Japan, Korea (Republic of), Latvia (Republic of), Lithuania (until December 31, 2008), Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Poland (until December 31, 2008), Portugal, St. Kitts and Nevis, St.  Lucia, St. Vincent, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Solomon Islands, Spain, Swaziland, Sweden, Slovenia, Switzerland, United States, and Western Samoa;
  • 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;
  • British citizens and British Overseas Citizens who are re-admissible to the United Kingdom;
  • citizens of British dependent territories who derive their citizenship through birth, descent, registration or naturalization in one of the British dependent territories of Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Pitcairn, St. Helena or the Turks and Caicos Islands;
  • persons holding a British National (Overseas) Passport issued by the Government of the United Kingdom to persons born, naturalized or registered in Hong Kong;
  • persons holding a valid and subsisting Special Administrative Region passport issued by the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China;
  • persons holding passports or travel documents issued by the Holy See.

CANPASS

Are you arriving in a remote area? If you are a Canadian or U.S. citizen, you may qualify for the CANPASS — Remote Area Border Crossing (RABC) permit. This joint initiative of Citizenship and Immigration Canada and Revenue Canada allows the bearer to cross into Canada in certain remote areas without reporting to a port of entry.

TRADE AGREEMENTS

Some business visitors may enter Canada more easily under the provisions of trade agreements signed by Canada.

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