When planning a business trip abroad, one important thing that always has to be taken into account is whether you require a visa to enter the destination country and perhaps more importantly, which visa is necessary. But for a business trip to Canada, a visa might not be necessary at all. Instead, an eTA Canada can be applied for.
Do I Need a Visa to Travel to Canada?
In short, yes. All British travellers, regardless of their travel purpose, need some form of travel authorization to go to Canada. The only people exempt from this requirement are US and Canadian nationals. All other nationalities require either a visa or an eTA to board any plane to Canada.
The eTA for Canada
eTA stands for “electronic Travel Authority”. As the name suggests, it is an electronic substitute for the standard visa. Rather than needing to visit the local embassy or consulate, the eTA can be applied for online. The application form is not long. Generally it takes five to ten minutes to fill it in, after which the required payment has to be made. An eTA is quite a bit cheaper than a visa for Canada, and the approval times are a fair bit less as well. eTA’s can be approved in a matter of days, while visa applications can often taken weeks or even months to go through.
Once approved, you will not “receive” an eTA. The only thing you receive in your e-mail is a confirmation of approval. This is not the actual eTA. Instead, the eTA is electronically linked to your passport. Your passport number is now listed in the databases of the Canadian immigration service as well as those of the airlines. Therefore, all you need to do to board the plane is have your passport scanned at the gate.
eTA Suitable for Business Trips
Most people think that any business-related trip to Canada requires a specific work visa or work permit. However, an eTA also allows you to go on business trips to Canada. With an eTA you can, for example, attend training courses, go to a business meeting or conference, negotiate deals with (potential) business partners and even purchase or sell products. As a rule of thumb, the only type of work not allowed with an eTA is manual labour. Likewise, you cannot be employed by a Canadian employer or try to set up your own company in Canada.
It is advised carrying a letter of invitation from the person or company you plan to visit on your business trip to Canada. While not mandatory, you may be selected for a random check on arrival in Canada. Having a business letter which contains all of the important information regarding your visit can save you a lot of time.
When Do I Need a Visa?
An eTA does not suffice for all business-related trips to Canada. As mentioned above, you are not allowed to perform manual labour or enter into employment under a Canadian employer. Additionally, in the unlikely event that you plan to stay in Canada for longer than six months (the validity period of the eTA), you also need a visa. Generally, however, an eTA suffices in most cases.