Ask the Expert: Do I now need a visa to visit Canada?
Travel tips & advice
Published 10/03/2016 | 02:30
It hasn't been mentioned much in the media, but yes, you will need a little more paperwork if you want to travel to Canada this year.
Up to now, many countries, including Ireland, worked on a visa waiver system, so all you had to do was present a valid passport for travelling.
But from March 15 next, Irish passport holders will need to apply online to gain entry to the country by getting an electronic travel authorisation (eTA).
The process, costing $7 dollars Canadian (just under a fiver), takes around 72 hours to process, but will last you five years, or as long as your passport is valid.
So if your passport expires next year, you'll have to reapply then if you want to travel, the friendly spokeswoman in the Canadian Embassy here informed me.
If you're travelling as a family, each member has to fill in the paperwork, so you might have to go through the process a number of times, and you'll need a valid credit card and email address.
It's similar to the US Esta and, like that, there are websites online touting for your business.
Avoid them as you'll pay more for that pleasure, so only use the following link: www.cic.gc.ca and go down to the 'visit' section if you're travelling on a holiday.
Remember, if you're a transit passenger, i.e. travelling via Canada to the likes of the United States or Caribbean, you'll still need an eTA.
If you've got dual nationality or a US passport holder, you won't need an eTA, but check on the Canadian Embassy website in Dublin, particularly if you're from a non-EU country.
And also note that you don't need an eTA if you're visiting Canada by road from the United States, or travelling to the country by ship (on the likes of a cruise itinerary).
So if you're travelling to Canada this year, apply as soon as possible, or risk your airline not allowing you to board your flight.