Canada again delays new travel permits that will apply to Hongkongers

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 21 September, 2016, 9:08am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 September, 2016, 9:21pm

For the second time in six months, Ottawa delayed Tuesday the implementation of new rules requiring visa-exempt foreign nationals who fly or transit through Canada to obtain an electronic travel authorization (eTA).

Holders of Hong Kong and British National Overseas passports are among those to whom the new rules apply.

A leniency period had been in effect since mid-March, when the new regulations were rolled out, due to technical glitches.

That was scheduled to end on September 30, but the government announced an extension to November 10 in order “to give travellers and airlines more time to prepare for changes,” said a statement.

Canada rule change means some Hongkongers will need to apply for permit before travel

Thereafter, officials are supposed to begin strictly enforcing the rules.

Immigration Minister John McCallum said the new delay aimed “to minimisze any travel disruptions.”

A large part of the problem was a lack of public knowledge about the new rules, McCallum said, pledging “another major information blitz in Canada and abroad to encourage affected travellers... to plan ahead and get the necessary travel documents before they book a flight to Canada.”

US citizens are exempted.

Other foreign nationals, including those passing through on a stopover, must fill out an online eTA in advance of their trip, and pay an administrative fee of C$7 (US$5.29).

After completing the online form, permission to travel to Canada will be sent by email and will remain in effect for five years.

“Most applicants get approved within minutes,” the ministry said on its website. “However, some applications can take several days to process so don’t wait until the last minute.”

The measure is similar to one set up by the United States in 2008, and will affect more than three million travellers per year from more than 50 countries.

Chinese passport holders must obtain a visa before travelling to Canada.