Travelling to Canada as a Dual Citizen

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Last Updated on May 10, 2022 by Allard John Keeley

Are you a dual citizen in Canada? As of November 10, 2016 you may find yourself prevented from boarding a flight to Canada if you do not have the right documents. Why will this happen? It’s because of the new eTA. There’s a few things you need to know.

Updated for 2019

Dual Citizens Now Need Passports

No Entry by Luigi Rosa via

by Luigi Rosa / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

I have no time to get a passport!

Are you a dual citizen in Canada (meaning you have Canadian citizenship and another citizenship)? As of November 10, 2016 you are now prevented from boarding a flight to Canada if you do not have the right documents. Why has this happened? It’s because of the new eTA. There’s a few things you need to know:

  • If your non-Canadian citizenship is with a country for which Canada requires a visa and you are still travelling with your non-Canadian passport, you really need to get your Canadian passport. Why become a Canadian citizen and live and work in Canada and not use your right to a Canadian passport?
  • Even if your non-Canadian citizenship is with a visa-exempt country, you CANNOT apply for an eTA ( Electronic Travel Authorization) if you are a citizen of Canada in addition to a citizen of the visa-exempt country. The eTA is designed to screen for foreign travellers and as a Canadian citizen – even though you are a dual citizen –you are not required to be screened and therefore cannot apply.
  • If you are a Canadian-American citizen, however, then you must have either a valid US passport or valid Canadian travel documentation as explained below.
  • All Canadians returning on a flight to Canada, as of November 10, 2016, must have one of the following travel documents:
    • Valid Canadian passport OR
    • Canadian temporary passport OR
    • Canadian emergency travel document

Please note: Canadian temporary passports and emergency travel documents are rarely issued and only on a case by case basis. Get your Canadian passport already!

Special Authorization to Enter Canada

If you have already booked your flight, it’s leaving in days (or hours) and you do not have time to get a Canadian passport, there is one option you have: special authorization to enter Canada.

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Special Authorization to Enter Canada was supposed to a temporary measure to help Canadian citizens abroad who did not become aware of the changes to Canada’s travel and entry regulations. To qualify you must:

  • be travelling by plane in less than 10 days
  • have a valid passport from a visa-exempt country
  • AND
  • have received a Canadian citizenship certificate (or card) some time in the past OR
  • have been issued a Canadian passport in the past OR
  • you naturalized as a Canadian citizen.

Update: Immigroup has recently learned that this temporary measure has been extended indefinitely. We first wrote about these changes 2 years ago and last updated this post in February of 2017, when this measure was still supposed to be temporary.

Please note that the Special Authorization is valid for a period of 4 days only.

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What Should I Do to Prepare?

The safest bet (unless you are a Canadian-American dual citizen and have a valid US passport) is to get your Canadian passport renewed as soon as possible, if it is expired, or is to expire within the next year.

If you have been travelling on your non-Canadian passport and do not have a valid Canadian passport yet, you will have to apply for your first Canadian passport which is generally more time consuming than renewing a passport. Here’s how to do both:


Applying for a First Passport

To be eligible to renew your passport, the following conditions must apply:

  1. First you will need to provide proof of your Canadian citizenship. If you were born outside of Canada, any of the following documents issued by IRCC, or previous Canadian authorities, are considered valid proof:
    • Canadian Certificate of Citizenship: issued by the Canadian government since January 1, 1947. They are generally issued to new Canadians or to Canadians born abroad to a Canadian parent.
    • Canadian Certificate of Naturalization: issued before January 1, 1947 by provincial and territorial courts in Canada, under British legislation.
    • Certificate of Retention of Canadian Citizenship: issued to people born outside Canada to a Canadian responsible parent who made a Declaration of Retention.
    • Certificate of Registration of Birth Abroad: issued to children born outside Canada between January 1, 1947 and February 14, 1977 to a Canadian responsible parent with the birth having been registered with the Canadian government during that period.
  2. Then you will need to provide a valid identity document. These must show your photograph and give your name, sex, and date of birth. They must also include your signature and be valid. Examples are:
    • Provincial/Territorial driver’s license
    • Other provincial/territorial license
    • Military ID
    • Certificate of Indian Status
    • Federal/Provincial/Territorial ID card
    • Canadian passport (if you are renewing)
  3. You will need 2 identical passport photographs taken to official specifications
  4. Any valid Canadian travel document that has been issued in your name
  5. You will need a guarantor and 2 references
  6. You will need to submit the completed form and pay the fee
  7. Go here for further information.


Renew your Passport

To be eligible to renew your passport, the following conditions must apply:

  • Your current passport must be valid, or have been expired for 1 year or LESS. If not, you will have to apply for a new passport as if it was your first time applying.
  • All your identity documents must list the SAME:
    • Name
    • Sex
    • Date of Birth
    • Place of Birth

    As you would like to appear on your renewed passport.

  • Your passport must have been valid for 5 or 10 years, not some other time period (that means you cannot renew an emergency or temporary passport).
  • Your passport must not be damaged.
  • Your passport must not have been reported lost or stolen.
  • Your passport must have been issued to you when you were 16 years of age or older.

To renew your passport you should:

  1. Download and complete Form PPTC 054 – Adult Simplified Renewal Passport Application. Go here to download it and for general instructions. Remember to print and sign the application form.
  2. Include your previous passport.
  3. If your current passport has a valid visa in it, be sure to notify Passport Canada in Section 2 of Form PPC 054 that you want your previous passport returned to you, or else it will be destroyed and your visa will not be retrievable.
  4. Include 2 identical passport photographs. Go here for instructions on the specifications that your passport photos must adhere to. If they do not, your application to renew your passport will be rejected. Go to the linked page and print out the specifications by clicking on the icon on the upper right hand side of the webpage, and then take the printout with you to your photographer. Wear nice clothes.
  5. You will need to find 2 references who have known you for at least 2 years.
  6. Submit your application.
    • If applying by mail send to:

      Government of Canada
      Passport Program
      Gatineau, Quebec K1A 0G3

    • If applying by courier send to:

      Government of Canada
      Passport Program
      22 de Varennes Street
      Gatineau, Quebec J8T 8R1

    • If applying in person, go here to find the nearest passport office or Service Canada office nearest you.
  7. Pay your fees.



Passport Fee
10-year Adult Passport (16 years of age or older) CAD$160
5-year Adult Passport (16 years of age or older) CAD$120
Child’s Passport (0-15 years of age) CAD$57


Additional Fees

These fees are in addition to the fees above. They are for additional services that you may not require.

Expedited Service Cost
Urgent Pick Up (Next Business Day) CAD$110
Express Pick Up (2-9 Business Days) CAD$50
Standard Pick Up (10+ Business Days) CAD$20
Other Services Cost
Replacing a lost or stolen passport CAD$45
Certified True Copy of your passport (maximum 3 copies) CAD$45
File Transfer to Another Passport Canada Office CAD$45


How to pay your fees:

  • In person:
    • Credit Card or Pre-paid card (Visa, Master Card, American Express)
    • Debit Card (Interac)
    • Certified cheque in Canadian funds payable to “Receiver General for Canada”
    • Bank Money Order in Canadian funds payable to “Receiver General for Canada”
    • Postal Money Order in Canadian funds payable to “Receiver General for Canada”
    • Passport Offices do NOT accept Cash
    • Service Canada offices and Canada Post branches do accept Cash, but only exact change.
  • By Mail (Canada Post or Courier): you must fill out the payment section in your application form and specify how you are paying. The following options are valid:
    • Credit Cards or pre-paid cards (Visa, Master Card, American Express)
    • Certified cheque in Canadian funds – specify exact fees
    • Bank Money Order in Canadian funds payable to “Receiver General for Canada”
    • Postal Money Order in Canadian funds payable to “Receiver General for Canada”
    • Cash or personal cheques are NOT accepted.

Remember, as a Canadian citizen you have a right to a Canadian passport, which happens to be one of the best travel documents available internationally. Exercise your rights. Get your passport now.


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Riley Haas has been a leading expert since 2011 on immigration matters, with hundreds of publications online. Published author of three books about political philosophy, the Beatles and the Toronto Maple Leafs, respectively. BA from Bishop’s University, MA from McMaster University. You follow Riley on Substack

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