Citizens of nearly 150 countries, as well as stateless individuals, need a visa to travel to Canada.
Most visitors — U.S. citizens and other visa-exempt travelers, as well as visa-holding foreign nationals — are permitted to remain in Canada for up to six months. If you want to stay longer than six months, you need to apply for an extension at least 30 days before you are due to leave.
Even if you don’t need a visa, you aren’t totally off the hook: visa-exempt foreign nationals (other than U.S. citizens or those who already have a valid Canadian visa) require an Electronic Travel Authorization, or eTA, to enter the country. This is a simple online form that can be filled out within minutes, and which costs $7 CAD. Regardless of their country of origin, U.S. green card holders do not need visitor visas to enter Canada, just an eTA.
Before 2008, U.S. citizens didn’t even need a passport to enter Canada. Though passports aren’t going away, Americans who travel frequently over the Canadian border can speed up their crossings by applying for a NEXUS Pass, a pre-screening process similar to the U.S.’s Global Entry Trusted Traveler Network or TSA Pre-Check. The application fee costs $50 USD online or $50 CAD by mail.
A Canadian visitor visa can be singly-entry or multiple-entry. The former allows visa holders to enter the country only once; after they leave Canada they need a new visa to return. The latter gives visa holders the freedom to cross the Canadian border at will for the duration of the visa. Parents and grandparents of Canadian citizens or permanent residents may also apply for a “super visa,” a multiple-entry visa that allows for continuous stays of up to two years, and the freedom to leave and enter Canada for up to ten years. To apply for any type of visa, visit the Immigration and Citizenship section of the Canadian government’s website.
Visitor visas cost $100 CAN per person or $500 CAN flat for a family of five or more members. The cost to extend a visitor visa is $100 CAN, and to restore visitor status costs $200 CAN.