Canada entry rules change for dual citizens

Dubai: Dual citizen Canadians must show a Canadian passport to enter the country under tightened entry rules effective September 30.

An estimated 40,000 Canadians live and work in the UAE with many returning home for annual holidays or work-related matters.

In years past, the government said that dual citizens often entered Canada using their foreign passports backed up by a citizenship card or a provincial driver’s licence to confirm they were Canadian citizens. Now, this practice will end for dual citizens flying into Canada.

Without a proper Canadian passport, Canadian citizens will not be allowed to enter the country as part of a new electronic travel authorisation system.

In a new advisory, the Canadian government warned that “Canadian citizens will need to have appropriate documents to travel to Canada before they can board their flight. A valid Canadian passport is the only reliable and universally accepted travel document that provides proof that you are a citizen and have the right to enter Canada without being subjected to immigration screening. Make sure that the expiry date of the passport is well beyond your planned return date”.

Travellers were advised that the only valid documents to enter the country are “a valid Canadian passport, a Canadian temporary passport, or a Canadian emergency travel document”.

The government also noted that although the electronic travel authorisation system was put into effect earlier in 2016, it hasn’t been fully strictly enforced until now,

Visa-exempt foreign nationals, meanwhile, travelling to Canada have been shown leniency until the new system is fully online.

“A new entry requirement, known as an Electronic Travel Authorisation (eTA), is now in effect for visa-exempt foreign nationals travelling to or transiting through Canada by air. To make sure travelling to Canada stays easy and stress-free, leniency will be shown to travellers who are caught unawares until September 29, 2016.”

American-Canadian travellers will be exempt from the Canadian-passport-only rule and can enter Canada with a United States passport.

“American citizens, including American-Canadian citizens, must carry proper identification and meet the basic requirements to enter Canada. You do not need a Canadian passport, a Canadian visa or an eTA to fly to Canada if you are travelling with a valid US passport.”

Darrin Wright, a 38-year-old Canadian expat who hails from Nova Scotia, has a European Union passport and his Canadian passport.

“I don’t see the point to the new deadline, I always use my Canadian passport when I go home anyway. Why would I use my EU passport to enter Canada?” said Wright, a Dubai resident who works in the communications sector. “Using the EU passport would present a bigger hassle at Customs, so why would I?”

A Canadian expat living in Dubai, Grace Fish, 36, was born in the Philippines but is a naturalised Canadian citizen who only uses her adopted country’s official travel document.

“What’s the point of using a Philippines passport if I have a Canadian passport? If I am going home, I am going to use my Canadian passport,” Fish told Gulf News.

Commenting on the issue, Emmanuel Kamarianakis, Consul General  of Canada, said: “Every Canadian citizen has the right to enter ‎Canada and travelling with a valid Canadian passport proves that you are a citizen.” 

He said that the Canadian citizens who are also citizens from visa-exempt countries and use their non-Canadian passport to fly to Canada cannot apply for an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA). This is because eTA is intended to screen foreigners for admissibility to  enter Canada.

He said that those who need to apply for a Canadian passport, should contact the Consulate General of Canada in Dubai or its Embassy in Abu Dhabi.

How to renew your Canadian passport

  • To renew your Canadian passport, your current passport must:
  • Be valid or expired for no more than one year maximum,
  • Have the same name, sex, date of birth and place of birth that you would like to appear on your new passport,
  • Have been issued with a 5-year or 10-year validity,
  • Not be damaged,
  • Not have been reported lost or stolen, and
  • Have been issued when you were at least 16 years of age.


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