Beginning at the end of this month, Canadian dual citizens flying back to Canada will need to show a Canadian passport before they are allowed to board their plane, as the country tightens up its border controls.
The new rule comes as Canada brings in what it’s calling its Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) programme, an electronic screening system.
Those Canadians with American citizenship are exempt from the new rules.
In a statement on the government’s website, travellers are told that the new rules are in effect now, but that “leniency will be shown” to those caught unaware “until Sept 29”.
However, starting on Sept 30, “all air travellers, including Canadian citizens, will need to have appropriate documents to travel to Canada before they can board their flight. A valid Canadian passport is the only reliable and universally accepted travel document that provides proof that you are a citizen, and have the right to enter Canada without being subjected to immigration screening.”
Travellers are also warned to ensure that the expiry date on their passport is “well beyond” their planned date of return to Canada.
According to Canadian media reports, 2011 Census data shows that around 2.9% of Canadians – or around 944,700 people –have multiple citizenships, with the most frequently reported second passports being those of the US, the UK, France and Poland.
Already in force in US
In requiring Canadians with dual nationality to use their Canadian passports when returning, Canada is adopting a measure that has long been in force in the US – much to the occasional surprise and annoyance of the many American dual citizens who have been caught out over the years by the rule.
One of them was New York-born British politician and former London Mayor Boris Johnson, who, in 2006, was so incensed that immediately after he was barred from re-entering the country he was born in, that he fired off an essay on the subject in Britain’s Spectator magazine which began: “Right. That’s it. Entre nous c’est terminé. After 42 happy years, I am getting a divorce from America.”
At least one Canadian publication has found many Canadians are already expressing disappointment in the new regulation. MetroNew.ca, a Canadian news website, reports that the new passport rule “has caught many by surprise”, with some calling it “discriminatory” against dual citizens and “a money grab”.
“[It] is expected to create havoc, as travellers with dual Canadian citizenships may find out [about the requirement to have a Canadian passport with them] only at the last minute, when trying to board on a flight,” the publication noted.