New travel regulation for Dual Citizens

by Anshul
a collage of different colored passport pages

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While the political benefits (or lack thereof) for dual citizens are often debated, travelers have always seen it as an advantage. For most, dual citizenship allows a choice of passport one can travel with, to meet immigration requirements. Currently, Canadians with dual citizenship can use the passport of other country, along with proof of Canadian residency, to gain entry into Canada. This is about to change.

New Regulation for Dual Citizens

Starting September 30th 2016,  Canadians with dual citizenship must use their Canadian passport when entering Canada by air. This regulation does not apply to those arriving by land or sea. It also does not apply to Canadian-US citizens with a valid US passport.

On their website, Citizenship and Immigration Canada explains what this means for dual Canadian citizens –  “If you are a Canadian citizen and a citizen of a visa-exempt country (dual Canadian citizen) who currently uses your non-Canadian passport to fly to Canada, you cannot apply for an eTA. This is because eTA was set up to screen foreigners for admissibility to enter Canada on a temporary basis.”

The new regulation is catching many by surprise, ones that don’t have a Canadian passport and ones that didn’t bother renewing, given they could use the ‘other passport’. Many see this policy change as a cash grab since it mandates all dual citizens to keep a valid Canadian passport. A 5-year Adult passport costs $120 while a 10 year passport costs $160.

Simply put:

  • Canadian citizen traveling with ‘other passport’, now, must carry a valid Canadian passport for re-entry into Canada.
  • Canadian dual citizens living abroad who wish to visit Canada, must present a valid Canadian passport for entry.

2011 National Household Survey indicates that almost a million people are citizens of Canada and at least one other country.


Take away

If you are a Canadian dual citizen, make sure your Canadian passports are valid and you carry them along for entry. Airlines can deny boarding if a valid Canadian passport is not presented at the time of check-in.  The new regulation is detailed here.


Nick Knight August 16, 2017 - 12:28 pm

That’s the policy for most since forever

BatSheva September 11, 2016 - 6:48 am

Israel has had such a policy for many years. Dual Israeli-other nationality citizens can only leave and enter Israel with an Israeli passport.

Stavros September 9, 2016 - 6:52 am

You should explain the context of this new requirement (and no, it’s not an attempt to mint $ by forcing more people to take out Canadian passports).

The story is that starting September 30, Canada is enforcing a requirement for visitors from visa-excempt countries to buy an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) in advance of boarding a plane to Canada. This is similar to the US ESTA program – and indeed Canada only introduced it at the behest of the United States, which will get all the relevant data about Canada-bound foreigners.

Canadians, including dual citizens, are excempt from the ETA requirement. In fact, they cannot obtain one. This means that if you are a dual citizen of say, France and Canada, then if you used your French passport you’d need an ETA. But because you are also a Canadian citizen you cannot get an ETA. Consequently, you must use a Canadian passport to board a plane to Canada.

Bling September 9, 2016 - 7:04 am

Thanks for explaining it further with an example. I didnt want to go that route since I am neither an immigration official nor a consultant. But I agree, will add a snippet from the CIC website to provide larger context. Cheers!

That Airline Guy September 9, 2016 - 6:40 am

Interesting. Do you know if this is going to become a more widespread policy in other countries? I currently have dual citizenship, and live in the UK without a UK passport. It’s beginning to look like a good move post-Brexit

Bling September 9, 2016 - 7:11 am

I am assuming Canada was getting a strong nudge from US to get this implemented. Given how things are shaping up post Brexit, I wouldn’t be surprised if something like this rolls along. On another note, Canada and EU visa spat has been an ongoing saga as well –


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