If the thought of visiting Canada for a vacation does not make you giddy with excitement, then we don’t know what will! The Great North is filled with so much natural beauty and historic sites that it may take a few trips to see all of the best tourist attractions. From canoeing on the sparkling turquoise waters of Lake Louise to experiencing the old-world charm of Montreal, there is something to do and see for every type of traveler.
Did you know that the majority of Canadian tourists hail from the USA, UK, China, France, and Germany? This may have something to do with the fact that most of the residents of these countries only need Electronic Travel Authorizations (eTA) to explore Canada, while other travelers need Canada tourist visas. Planning to visit Canada? We uncover everything you need to know to plan the ultimate Canadian holiday!
Canada's Tourist Visa VS Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA)
Planning a trip abroad is always fun and exciting apart from the tedious yet very important admin details like applying for a Canada tourist visa or an eTA. Most people need a tourist visa or an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) to travel to Canada. And if you are a citizen of the USA, you only need a valid passport to enter Canada. An eTA application is quicker and less expensive than a tourist visa application but the upside is that a tourist visa is valid for twice as long! This, of course, will come in handy when traveling in the second-largest country in the world! So, for which do you qualify?
Who is eligible for a Canada eTA?
If you are a citizen of a country that is visa-exempt in Canada, then you are eligible for an eTA and you will need one in order to get into the country. Those who are not visa-exempt will need to apply for tourist visas. The list of eTA eligible countries are listed in the table below:
Source: Canada eTA
How to Apply for a Canada Tourist Visa?
Most people apply for tourist visas to travel to Canada and explore the urban splendor and unspoiled wilderness of the country but you can also get a tourist visa to simply visit family or friends in Canada or attend business meetings, conferences, or trade shows. Whatever your reason to visit Canada, you will need to collect a few supporting documents to include in your visa application. These documents include the following:
|Documents Needed for a Tourist Visa Application|
|Type of Document||Description|
|Proof of genuine intention to visit Canada for the reasons you state in your application.||1) You can include a letter of invitation from your family in Canada or a business contact. 2) Proof of your travel history such as copies of previous visas. 3) Flight details, hotel reservations, or tickets to an event.|
|Proof of funds to pay for your travels during your stay.||You can include account statements, a letter from your employer, or a letter from the person or institution who will provide you with money.|
|Proof of your identity.||You can include your valid passport. If you are traveling with family or intend to visit family, you will need to show proof that you are related, like a marriage certificate.|
|Your history with the law.||You will need to report any criminal convictions in your application. The Canadian Government may ask you for a police certificate.|
|Health check.||You must provide proof of a negative laboratory molecular test result for COVID-19 to the airline before boarding international flights to Canada.|
How much does the Canadian tourist visa cost?
A Canadian tourist visa or otherwise known as a visitor visa or even a temporary resident visa costs CAD $100 and allows you to stay in Canada for up to 6 months but is valid for 10 years or until your passport expires. If it’s your first time applying for a Canadian visa then you need to include your biometrics (fingerprints and photos) at an additional cost of $85.
Who is eligible to travel to Canada during COVID-19?
The current travel restrictions in Canada may affect your plans of visiting the country as a tourist. Only eligible foreigners may enter Canada at this time. You can apply for a tourist visa if you are:
- an immediate family member of a Canadian citizen, a person registered under Canada’s Indian Act, or permanent resident who is staying in Canada for 15 days or more;
- an extended family member of a Canadian citizen, a person registered under Canada’s Indian Act, or permanent resident who is staying in Canada for 15 days or more;
- a person who is authorized by the Public Health Agency of Canada to travel to Canada for compassionate reasons; and
- traveling directly from the US for a non-discretionary purpose.
NEWS: For all you adventure-seekers, the good news is on the horizon. On December 1, 2020, the Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC) said that they are discussing and planning a restart and expressed that, “we can’t keep the visitor economy closed indefinitely.” TIAC would like to see the tourism industry open in time for Canada’s eventful summer months, starting in June - August 2021.
How to Apply for an eTA?
Applying for an eTA is a much simpler online process. All you need is a valid passport, email address as well as a credit or debit card to pay the CAD $7 application fee. Most applicants get their eTA approval within minutes via email. The process can take longer (several days) for some applicants than others when they are asked to submit supporting documents, similar to the ones for tourist visa applications. An eTA allows you to stay in Canada for up to 6 months but is valid for 5 years or until your passport expires. In addition, it’s best to get an eTA before you book your flight to Canada.
Top Tourist Destinations in Canada
A Canada tourist visa allows you to visit any of Canada’s incredible 13 provinces and territories. Whether you’re exploring Canada with a group tour or planning your own itinerary, here are some of the must-see sights in Canada.
Explore the Cabot Trail
The Cabot Trail is one of the Seven Wonders of Canada and is located in Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. With 26 hiking trails that range from easy strolls to challenging climbs - all leading to panoramic views of canyons, highlands, waterfalls, and coastlines, you have plenty of hiking adventures to plan in Cape Breton.
Ski at Whistler Blackcomb
Whistler Blackcomb is the largest ski resort in North America located in Whistler, British Columbia. Plan your ski trip from January to March right in time for fresh snowfall and the best skiing and/or snowboarding experience. The resort further offers sophisticated lounge-style restaurants and bars where you can feast with incredible views of Blackcomb Mountain.
Sightsee in Old Montreal
If hiking and action-packed snow activities do not tickle your fancy, you might enjoy exploring the quaint cobblestone streets and architecture from the 16th century in Montreal - Quebec’s largest-French speaking city. A visit to the city is not complete without a stop at the Notre-Dame Basilica and Habitat 67. And don’t forget to indulge your sweet tooth with a frozen maple syrup lollipop from Sugar Shack.
Take a Cruise to Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls are world-famous waterfalls situated in Ontario, Niagara Falls. It’s one of the top tourist destinations in Canada and for good reason. The thundering of 3,160 tons of water every second is enough to give any spectator goosebumps. You can choose how you want to experience this natural world wonder with many unique and exciting activities that can be pre-booked on Tripadvisor like a cruise that takes you as close as possible to the falls.
Canoe at Lake Louise
Inside Banff National Park you’d discover plenty of gems and one of these is Lake Louise. The famous crystal clear turquoise water makes it one of the most instragrammable lakes in the world. Canoeing is an iconic activity for travelers visiting Canada and for $105 you and three friends can hire a canoe for one hour to paddle across Lake Louise and take in incredible nature and spot small creatures in the park.
Chill at a Hip Gastown Bar in Van-City
Gastown is Vancouver's oldest neighborhood that seamlessly combines old style with contemporary elements. It’s home to the hottest restaurants and bars, making it a great pick for an incredible night out. You’ll also enjoy shopping at independent fashion boutiques and modern gift stores in the city while exploring the many art galleries that line the cobblestone streets.
Plan Your Trip to Canada, Hassle-Free
The last thing you want to do when planning a trip to Canada is worry about the admin to apply for your Canada tourist visa. And luckily, you don’t have to. We can handle the paperwork and visa application on your behalf so that you can enjoy quicker results.