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Canada

If you’re travelling to Canada, our travel advice and updates give you practical tips and useful information. 

Get travel and medical insurance

Before travelling, the Department strongly recommends that you obtain comprehensive travel insurance which will cover all overseas medical costs, including medical repatriation/evacuation, repatriation of remains and legal costs. You should check any exclusions and, in particular, that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.

Overview and travel updates

Security status

We advise Irish citizens in Canada to take normal precautions.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: NEW REQUIREMENT FOR VISA-EXEMPT FOREIGN NATIONALS TRAVELLING TO CANADA BY AIR

Canada has introduced an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) entry requirement for visa-exempt foreign nationals flying to or transiting through Canada. As of March 15, 2016, travellers who do not require a visa to fly to Canada need to apply for an eTA.  This includes passengers travelling on an Irish passport.

Applying for an eTA is a simple, inexpensive ($7 Canadian) online process that takes minutes to complete. To apply, travellers must have a valid passport, a credit card, and an e-mail address. An eTA is electronically linked to a passenger’s passport and once approved, it is valid for 5 years or until passport expiry.

To ensure there are no travel disruptions while travellers learn about the eTA requirement, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has introduced a transition period (leniency period). During this period, border services officers are able to admit travellers arriving in Canada without an eTA, provided they are not otherwise inadmissible. This leniency period will be in place until September 29, 2016. 

As of September 30, 2016, passengers who arrive at the airport without an eTA should expect to experience delays in their travels. For this reason, travellers should apply for their eTA before booking your flight to Canada.

For more information or to apply for an eTA, visit Canada.ca/eTA .

Irish-Canadian dual citizens please note carefully:

Dual citizens, who hold Canadian citizenship and citizenship from a visa-exempt country such as Ireland, cannot apply for an eTA because eTA was set up to screen foreign visitors for admissibility to enter Canada.

If you are a dual Irish-Canadian citizen you cannot apply for an eTA on your Irish passport and must enter Canada on a valid Canadian passport. You may be denied boarding if you attempt to travel using your Irish passport. 

To prepare for these changes, dual citizens are strongly encouraged to apply for a Canadian passport. This will prevent delays during travel and help ensure dual Canadian citizens are treated according to the rules that apply to Canadian citizens. 

Note:  As it can take time to get a Canadian passport, IRCC encourages Canadian citizens, including dual citizens, to renew or obtain these documents as soon as they can and before leniency period ends. Find out more about travel documents for dual Canadian citizens flying to Canada.  

Irish citizens who are permanent residents (PRs) of Canada please note carefully:

Permanent residents (PRs) of Canada are not eligible to apply for an eTA. Canadian PRs must carry and present their valid PR card or Permanent Resident Travel Document (PRTD) when boarding a flight to Canada or travelling to Canada on any other commercial carrier.

If your PR card expires, it does not mean you have lost permanent resident status, however it is your responsibility to apply for a new PR card when your current card expires. If you need to replace or renew your permanent resident card, make sure to plan ahead and check the processing times.

If you have lived outside of Canada for many years and are not sure whether you are still a Canadian permanent resident, see “How long must I stay in Canada to keep my permanent resident status” to review the residency requirement details.  

Emergency Assistance     

The best help is often close at hand so if you have problems, start by talking to your local contacts, tour operator representative or hotel management.

Our emergency assistance guidelines give useful information.

Our tips for safe travels

  • Purchase comprehensive travel insurance which covers all your intended activities
  • Add an alert for your destination within the Travelwise App.
  • Register your details with us so that we can contact you quickly in an emergency, such as a natural disaster or a family emergency
  • Follow us on twitter @dfatravelwise for the latest travel updates 
  • Read our Topical ‘Know Before You Go’ guide

Safety and security

Terrorism

Although the threat from terrorism in Canada is low, there is still a global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, which could be against civilian targets, including places frequented by tourists and expatriates.

Crime

  • Crime remains relatively low in Canada but you should take sensible precautions:
  • Don’t carry your credit card, travel tickets and money together - leave spare cash and valuables in a safe place.
  • Don’t carry your passport unless absolutely necessary and leave a copy of your passport (and travel and insurance documents) with family or friends at home.
  • Avoid showing large sums of money in public and don’t use ATMs after dark, especially if you’re alone. Check no one has followed you after conducting your business.
  • Avoid dark and unlit streets and stairways, and arrange to be picked up or dropped off as close to your hotel or apartment entrance as possible.
  • Keep a close eye on your personal belongings and hold on to them in public places such as internet cafés, train and bus stations.

Petty theft

As with any country, crimes such as mugging, bag-snatching and pickpocketing are not uncommon in Canadian cities and towns. However, most visits to Canada are trouble-free.

Reporting crime

If you’re a victim of a crime while in Canada, report it to the local police immediately and get a police report. You’ll need this if you’re applying for areplacement passport or making an insurance claim. You can contact us at the Irish Embassy in Ottawa if you need help.

Driving

If you’re planning to drive in Canada, be aware that cars drive on the right side of the road but otherwise road safety conditions are fairly similar to Ireland.

If you want to drive:

  • Bring your full Irish driving license and make sure you have adequate and appropriate insurance
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is against the law and you risk being detained, fined or banned from driving if caught
  • Keep your vehicle doors locked and your bags kept out of sight to prevent opportunistic bag-snatching if you’re stopped at traffic lights

Vehicle hire

If you’re hiring a vehicle, we advise you not to hand over your passport as a form of security. If you’re allowing your passport to be photocopied, keep it in your sight at all times.

Check that you have adequate insurance and read the small print of the vehicle hire contract (particularly any waiver that will come into effect if the vehicle is damaged).

Local laws and customs

Remember, the local laws apply to you as a visitor and it is your responsibility to follow them. Be sensitive to local customs, traditions and practices as your behaviour may be seen as improper, hostile or may even be illegal.

Illegal drugs

Illegal drug use (no matter what the drug) carries stiff penalties, including fines and long prison terms.

Additional Information

Entry requirements (visa/passport)

If you are unsure of what the entry requirements for Canada are, including visa and other immigration information, ask your travel agent or contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Canada.

You can also check with them how long your passport must be valid for.

Health

Check with your doctor well in advance of travelling to see if you need any vaccinations for Canada.

Natural disasters and climate

Thunderstorms

Summer thunderstorms are fairly frequent in most parts of Canada, with some becoming severe and potentially life threatening.

Tornadoes

May to September are the prime tornado months with the peak season in June and early July. Listen to local weather bulletins and check the National Hurricane Centre, Environment Canada and The Weather Network websites. This is especially important if camping or travelling by recreational vehicle.

Forest fires

Forest fires can break out at any time, regardless of the season. Please heed local warnings and monitor news bulletins for latest details on local outbreaks. For more information visit the Environment Canada website.

Snow Storms

During the winter, highways can be closed because of snow storms and avalanches. Even when roads remain open, winter driving conditions may still be treacherous. Listen to local weather bulletins and check the Weather Network website. Always comply with avalanche advisories and don’t enter closed trails. For more information and avalanche bulletins check the Canadian Avalanche Foundation.